June 25, 2012

Classic Comebacks: 1970 Backyard Brawl

Filed under: Football,History — Chas @ 4:29 pm

While not as disastrous as the Dave Hart era of Pitt football, the Carl DePasqua period that came right before Johnny Majors I was hardly stellar. A 13-29 record over 4 years and only one season at .500. Pitt under DePasqua effectively peaked halfway through the second season. Pitt had reached 5-1, before riding a 4 game losing streak to 5-5. Those were followed up with 3-8 and 1-10 seasons and Pitt’s 3d coach in 7 years.

Still, if there is one thing that lingers — and vaguely redeems — from the DePasqua era, it is the 1970 Backyard Brawl which also served as Pitt’s homecoming. A game that saw Pitt come back from 35-8 to win 36-35 (hat tip to EDSBS).

In two parts. Part One:

Here’s Part 2

You may notice, Pitt had no decal on the helmets. The cheerleaders just had a block P on their sweaters. The script was still a few years away.

One final note on the Backyard Brawl. Todd Graham goes down as the first Pitt coach to face and not beat WVU at least once since Fred Crolius coached one year in 1902. Even Paul Hackett did it once.

the WVU coach that blew the lead was Bobby Bowden

Comment by wbb 06.25.12 @ 4:32 pm

I sat in the press box with Bobby during a spring game during the Hart years. Whodathunk….

Es-posit-o? Wasn’t it Es-poseet-o?

Thanks, Chas…great stuff.

Comment by steve1 06.25.12 @ 4:41 pm

For all of you who still have your head in the sand, Chryst just lost his own nephew to Purdue.

Comment by Mike 06.25.12 @ 4:48 pm

Pitt went for two after every score. Just like my strategy on Madden.

Comment by JW 06.25.12 @ 5:51 pm

@Wbb as in THE bobby bowden!? Isn’t he like the second most winningest coach in FBS history, only behind JoePa…THAT Bobby Bowden!?

…Wow…I am honestly in awe of this (mind you, for me, Pitt history begins when I was 8, or the 1991 😛 cause that’s the oldest I can remember being and watching Pitt FB for the first time.)

Comment by Lou Gagliardi 06.25.12 @ 5:52 pm

Losing this rivalry is the only downside of the move to the ACC.

Comment by HbgFrank 06.25.12 @ 7:10 pm

Facts are important. Was his nephew worth having? Because as per the protocol, you can’t diss Chryst if the nephew is a 2 star or below.
Give us all the facts please.
Name, rank and serial number please.

Comment by SFPitt 06.25.12 @ 7:21 pm

I did the research for Mike. 3 star recruit from Illinois. Came down to Pitt and Purdue. Worse than Wanny losing Rickets and the son of the tennis coach? You guys decide.
Me…I would have a hard time choosing a program with our recent history, but having 4 head coaches in 13 months can happen to anyone.

Comment by SFPitt 06.25.12 @ 8:36 pm

I was at that game. What an exciting comeback. Looked like DePasqua had turned the corner. Of course it was downhill from there.
I got Strauser as NR from ESPN and 2 star from So maybe not a big loss.

Comment by Houston Panther 06.25.12 @ 9:23 pm

I was also at the game sitting in the WVU section that was across from the press box. My WVU friend got the tickets. At half time I feared for my life. At game end we were alone in an empty section. WVU fans were pounding on the WVU locker for Bowden’s head. I still have the sunday sports section.

Comment by Frank 06.25.12 @ 9:32 pm

It’s always enjoyable watching highlights of Pitt beating the hoopies.

Comment by Annie 06.25.12 @ 9:40 pm

Dave Havern was the pride of Theta Chi. I was at this damned game and it was the most exciting sporting event I have ever attended. What a stud Dave was. He never gave up.

Comment by The Hagen 06.25.12 @ 9:57 pm

Holy Crap!

Just came home from the Steve Adams show in Greentree tonight. Legit, legit, legit, legit, legit. The kid was amazing tonight. And the best part, he made it look easy.

He totally dominated Jakim Donaldson, the former edinboro star who plays professionally in europe now. He was the MVP of the league last summer. He was the one who used his quickness and guile to get the best of an admittedly rusty Dejuan Blair last year. Donalson could do nothing tonight against Adams. Adams caught at least two of his shots and blocked a couple more.

Talib Zanna fared no better. Like Donaldson, he called for the ball in the post only to kick it back out when he realized there was no where to go.

Adams had a nice pick and roll dunk. Had a nice offensive rebound dunk. Blocked a ton of shots and altered two for every one he blocked. He grabbed a bunch of boards and tipped/kept alive a bunch more. He showed a nice (aleit goofy looking) jump hook. He has a nice touch with his right hand. And he has great hands.

I think he had a triple double or darn close to it (points, rebounds, blocks).

His team was losing most of the game and put on a nice push at the end to the get win.

Zeigler played well. He is lightning quick. Goes to the basket strong/well and can finish. He is a good rebounder and plays good defense. He has a good mid range game, but his jumper is lacking. He missed a couple free throws late that would have sealed the game.

Patterson was OK, but as overshadowed by Adams and to a lesser degree Zeigler.

Robinson played. About what we expected, big, solid physical, smart but not overly athletic without a great shot. He had a real hard time staying in front of John Johnson. But when the game was on the line, he forced Johnson to take a contested three. My initial impression is that he is 10 minute a game guy next year, starting PG for three years after that. Low risk, but not a high reward kind of guy, perfect for Dixon.

Watched a little of the third game. Gilbert looked good, in shape, fast, strong. Same with Cam Wright. But Adams and Zeigler are obviously/significantly better.

Chris Jones surprised me. He is a fluid, agile nice looking player. Probably a redshirt this year but has serious potential, better athlete than Durand Johnson. Not a slasher like Moore or Gilbert Brown, more smooth like Jeremy Lamb. Can’t think of a good comparison.

But Adams was the show tonight. Jamie was there and watched it. Can’t imagine he saw it any differently.

Comment by boubacar aw 06.25.12 @ 10:54 pm

Interesting trivia on your final note Chas. Even Dave Hart had a win over WVU, his only one in 1966. Hard to complain about today after going to Pitt and attending every game during that era.

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 06.25.12 @ 11:10 pm

SFPitt – Ricketts didn’t come to Pitt because of DW – he’s here now. We don’t know what the PC’s nephew had in mind for major and what the possibility of him playing at either school. Maybe he had a better chance at PU…maybe the pressure of playing for one’s uncle wasn’t worth it. HCPC did pick up a punter today. I hope HCPC makes many of you look foolish – he and his staff will produce winning football teams.

Comment by markp 06.25.12 @ 11:22 pm

One of the greatest games to see….bobby Bowden to this day has said it was the hardest loss he ever had.

The next year we won almost an exact replay coming from behind to beat Navy.

Hail to PITT!

Comment by Oregon_Panther 06.26.12 @ 1:38 am

Great way to get the juices flowing!


Comment by Pitt it IS 06.26.12 @ 8:58 am

On PC’s nephew, if he came here and never played or was a dud, everyone would be screaming about wasting a scolarship on nepotism.

Comment by Pitt it IS 06.26.12 @ 8:59 am

From PG article on Johnson to PSU one can infer–

1. Johnson thought PSU athletic facilities were better than Pitt’s.

2. He liked the PSU coaching staff better.

3. The Sandusky trial was not a factor–Johnson stated he believes it will have no effect on PSU’s program going forward.

On the last item–this plus the quality of the other recruits PSU has committed so far–would indicate that, contrary to popular belief among Pitt fans, HS kids really don’t care about the Sandusky thing.

So, for those among us who thought it would matter in recruiting, it clearly doesn’t and will not matter unless the NCAA does come in with sanctions.

Such NCAA sanctions are only a very remote possiblity, IMO, because the Sandusky thing, as horrific as it was/is, had nothing to do with gaining an unfair advantage in recruiting (PSU cover-up only tried to avoid a possible disadvantage). Gaining that unfair advantage is all the NCAA really cares about so sanctions are unlikely.

Comment by pitt1972 06.26.12 @ 9:43 am

I was at the Pitt-WVU game too. Pitt only had the ball 4 times in the 2nd half and scored all 4 times. Many people left at halftime and missed it. If remember correctly, it was Pete Maravich’s NBA TV debut game so some of my fellow students did not even come to the game.

Comment by rayhpgh 06.26.12 @ 9:50 am

#1 Doesn’t make sense to me.
#2 Comes down to personalities and what they ‘promise’ you.
#3 For most parents it does matter. Recruits may see it as State Penn takes their football seriously. But that is a flawed view since the football program was placed above protecting children from a Pedophile.

HS kids should care. What happened in Creepy Valley is sick and inexcusable. And, two of State Penn’s ace recruiters from the Poopy Pants regime are still on the staff. But, the healing has begun. What BS!

Comment by TX Panther 06.26.12 @ 9:53 am

I hope all of the PedState recruits enjoy taking showers knowing it might be the exact spot where a child was molested…oh and that 2 of your current coaches knew about it and did nothing to stop it.

Not the kind of program that I would want to be involved with, but I guess my values are different than Dorian’s and all their other recruits.

Comment by Hank the Tank 06.26.12 @ 10:33 am

love the footage of the old PITT Stadium with the greeks lined up and storming the field afterwards. Memories, memories, memories

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 06.26.12 @ 11:59 am

Does this game beat the Pitt v WVU 3OT back in 1997?

Comment by TX Panther 06.26.12 @ 12:31 pm

TX Panther, how would you know? You can’t even remember the 97 game.

Comment by Chas 06.26.12 @ 12:39 pm

tx might have my malady. i think it’s odd that i remember distant past better than more recent past. for me, i think it has something to do with age.

Comment by pittkeith 06.26.12 @ 1:47 pm

1. He’s blind if he thinks PSU has better facilities.

2. What kid wouldn’t like the PSU culture of athletes can do anything with no consequences over a place where there are consequences? Wanny isn’t coach anymore, look at how well no consequences worked out then…

3. True, kids don’t care.

Comment by deepelemblues 06.26.12 @ 1:53 pm

As the song says, “they can never take that away from me”. So no matter what the current trials and tribulations are that Pitt football is dealing with, we always have that fantastic long history of football glory to look back on. Lets hope that PC can begin a new era to continue the tradition.

Comment by Dr. Tom 06.26.12 @ 2:11 pm

My lack of recollection had more to do with whiskey that day.

Comment by TX Panther 06.26.12 @ 2:52 pm

Hagen has a selective memory. As I recall the only reason we didn’t leave at halftime was that we were paralytic drunk.

Comment by tsquare 06.26.12 @ 8:47 pm

My junior year, I enjoyed those 4 oz cans of Rolling Rock during the game. We got so crazed in th 2nd half we were chanting for Ohio State. Esposito & Ferris ran hard, Think it was Salter that knocked down some passes. I most remember and thoroughly enjoed WV’s attitude shifting from arrogance, unimpressed after we drove for the first score to desperation after our third. A little payback, their Will Robinson would kill us in Basketball.

Comment by Old School Panther 06.27.12 @ 6:14 am

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