September 18, 2012

With the announcement last week of ND coming to the ACC, lead to the discussion of schedules. On the football side, there was the acknowledgment that Pitt-ND games will change from a yearly game to a once-every-three (or two)-years action. That would open the door to putting Penn State on the schedule with more frequency. And indeed, following AD Steve Pederson’s comments suggesting it, the acting PSU AD echoed the growing possibility.

[David] Joyner, Penn State’s acting athletic director, told the Tribune-Review on Friday he hopes to visit Pederson in Pittsburgh during the football season. Any face-to-face discussions wouldn’t be just about resuming the once-great rivalry, but Joyner acknowledged it would be a significant part of his visit.

“There certainly is a philosophical meeting of the minds,” Joyner said. “It would be very interesting to look to see if we can make it happen, to have more games in the future.”

The Big 10 just had their planned annual games with the Pac-12 fall apart because of the Pac-12 playing 9 conference games annually, and teams like Stanford and USC that regularly play ND. The Big 10 still plays 8 conference games, but Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delaney has been publicly saying that the Big 10 schools need to do a better job on non-con scheduling.

Almost certainly Pitt will be playing PSU in basketball soon. If not in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, then as a scheduled non-con.

So there’s that, but what about WVU?

After Pitt got the invite to the ACC, but before the Big 12 needed to get WVU, the WVU AD Oliver Luck spoke a little too quickly about how much Pitt needs the Backyard Brawl. Reality actually suggests otherwise. Pitt has an easier time finding teams willing to do home-and-homes in football. More so than WVU.

Yes, WVU travels well. Yes, there is excitement over WVU in the Big 12 by their fans. But there is still a question of how long that enthusiasm lasts for the games against Kansas, K-State, Iowa St. and Texas Tech. The Brawl is probably a bigger deal to WVU fans than Pitt fans.

Plus, there are the travel costs. The Brawl takes on greater importance, given what the Hoopies have to spend on conference travel. A road trip to Pitt becomes a very affordable bus trip. No hotel costs. So, Luck has been a lot more conciliatory sounding regarding resuming the Backyard Brawl as soon as possible. It has become clear, though, that Pitt is not going to rush back to scheduling the Hoopies in football.

But what about basketball?

That should be different for Pitt. As we saw with this off-season scheduling headaches, Pitt is struggling to put a decent non-con schedule that provides any reward to season ticket-holders. Pitt is not a place like Kentucky where the fanbase will mutter but ultimately bend-over and take a laughably bad home non-con slate.

It seems, though, that the Backyard Brawl in basketball is not looking promising right now.

[Bob] Huggins said Monday he has told Jamie Dixon he’d like to restart the rivalry as soon as possible, but the Pittsburgh coach has been non-committal. Next season will be the first year since 1918 that the two longtime regional rivals have not faced one-another during the basketball season.

“I’ve said we’re willing to play,” Huggins said. “It’s a great rivalry. Why wouldn’t we play Pitt? You want to talk about the betterment of the student-athlete and doing what’s right by the student-athlete? We’re talking about an hour and a half drive. We’re not talking about flying across the country. It just makes sense. There’s not a downside.

“It’s great for the fans. The players really enjoy it. You can play the game and be home. There’s no problem waking up and going to class the next day. You’re not missing class time. All the reasons anyone could give for starting a series or maintaining a series, they’re all there. They’re all positive.”

Huggins, however, is better at the politics than his AD. Coach Dixon has been quite vague about the whole issue of the Brawl — and scheduling in general. But Huggins isn’t going to be accused of trying to put the blame on Dixon since the basketball coach has a lot of the responsibility for setting the schedule.

“When I’ve talked to Jamie about it, it was kind of like, ‘We’ll have to see,'” Huggins said. “I don’t know how much of it is Jamie’s call or not. That’s what I think. I don’t know either way, but I wouldn’t put it all on Jamie. Or even any of it on Jamie.”

Maybe it is the AD and/or Chancellor at Pitt is ordering a break from the Hoopies after last year. Maybe it is simply Dixon waiting to get a feel for how things go in the ACC first. Maybe it is part of linked negotiations between Pitt and WVU where the Hoopies want to make sure the football side resumes as well, but Pitt won’t do that.

I’ve made no secret that I want to keep playing the Hoopies. In both sports. The games are too good. The hate is real. And true, time-tested rivalries are one of the great things in sport.

Reality says that WVU becomes more rotational in football, given a 9-game conference schedule. Along with rotating ND and hopefully PSU regularly for Pitt. There is, however, no reason not to play in basketball annually. FSU does it with Florida, Clemson and South Carolina as well as Georgia Tech and Georgia all do so.

Let the hiatus be brief.

WVU is Pitt’s only real rival. Just get them on the schedule annually.

Comment by Chris 09.19.12 @ 11:47 am

@Imma Man, you are right on. I’m 47 yrs old. Growing up, in the 70’s and 80’s, the rivalry was one of the top 3 or 4 rivalry games in the country.

Not just because I’m a Pitt guy.

Just facts, allthough it may be hard for some younger fans to believe.

OSU-Mich, Texas-Ok, Neb-Ok, Pitt-PSU not only said in the same breath, some years it was the most anticpated game.

To point. Not sure what year, but, on the Friday after T-giving it was played, the Today Show had one of their segments on the game, that would be played that afternoon.

Interviewed J. Sherrill and J. Paterno live during the segment!!!

Not together mind you, they hated each other too.

If they played every year, it would get back a lot of that.

Mind you, not playing twice every 8-10 years, I realize that.

I’m saying, if it was EVERY YEAR.

Many, many more families and friends know people, many times in their immediate family, that go to PSU. Very few WVU.

We also have gone by them as far as having the upper hand (which they always felt they had).

Top 5 research school, ACC conference, top hoops school and the scandal will permanently put them behind Pitt. (no pun intended) LMAO!!!!!!!!

I actually fear some of the up coming games, as I hope Pitt fans can stay classy, because it would be real easy, with a few beers in ya, to get real nasty with PSU people for the considerable future.

I would think the onus, would be on the PSU fans though. If some PSU fan would start the “Shit on Pitt” stuff, then, I’m afraid, all’s fair in love and war.

I always found WVU a rivalry, but in the sense of, “bunch a hicks”, even at times, if lost, “so what, you have to go back and live in W.V.”

The PSU game, was the one, that when you were winning near the end of the game, you quietly said to yourself, “please, please, please, let this game end and let us win”.

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 11:50 am

Clearly Pitt needs a major upgrade in its non-con basketball schedule and the old Big East seems like a natural place for Jamie to go to find opponents. Pitt still should figure out how to play WVU in hoops. But, continuing rivalries with Nova, UConn, Georgetown and St. Johns should be the higher priority.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 09.19.12 @ 12:02 pm

Forget WVU in football completely. In basketball, schedule the Hoopies only as a last resort. This year’s basketball schedule OFC is lacking.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.19.12 @ 12:02 pm

sfpitt, Pac 12 schools don’t play Fresno St because they are a non AQ school and they have regional rivalrys already in place it is a lose lose game for them, WVU is ranked #9 and has a front runner in the heisman race. For those of you who want WVU to stew, if they run the table and win the Big12 they will be playing Alabama in the NC game, also playing OKLA,OKLA STATE,TCU, and Texas will not hurt their recruiting stop fooling yourselves, playing and beating them will only help our recruiting.

I am old enough to remember the great Pitt/PSU rivalry but we have only played them 4 times in the last 20 years and the last game that was big time was longer than that, 30 year old people don’t remember it, PSU will win 4 to 5 games this year and this will be the best team they will have in the next 8-10 years maybe longer, T-shirts were pulled from Ohio State shelves that read I would rather shower at PSU than root for Michigan, PSU is a punchline they arn’t competitive anymore its time to stop beating a dead horse

Comment by steve h 09.19.12 @ 12:50 pm

Dr. Tom, its not going to work that way…Ask PSU fans who is their main rival in the Big 10. You will get several answers. Then go ask a fan of that team who their main rival is in the Big 10 and none of them will say PSU. We may think we have a rivalry with VT, but they will never see it as the same. You can’t create the level of hate, discontent, and yes, respect for a true rival with anything other than decades of games played every year. If we lose a FB or BB game to ND or VT, I am pissed. If we lose a FB or BB game to WVU, my wife and daughter know to vacate the premises! Forget ND and PSU, put WVU on the FB and BB schedules.

Comment by HbgFrank 09.19.12 @ 12:57 pm

Play in state Temple and PSU, play wvu, play cincy. Quality programs for the most part and very local. Enough of this North Florida win by 50 shit

Comment by Timmeh 09.19.12 @ 1:24 pm

That’s a pretty big “if” steve h.

Yes, playing Oklahoma and Texas will help with WVU recruiting.

However, Pitt playing and beating WVU will do next to nothing for Pitt recruiting.

Miniscule at best. Perhaps a WPIAL player or two.

WVU just doesn’t have any national cache. If Pitt were to beat them, “no one across the nation is going to sit up and say, ‘wow, Pitt beat WV’.

I mean, they just don’t. They are not in with Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, and the Michigans and Ohio States of the world. They just aren’t.

They could win the NC, they still wouldn’t have any national cache.

Example, they could beat Texas, and Texas would still be known as a football powerhouse, WV, would be known as a team that had a good year.

So, I wouldn’t make too much out of recruiting for the benefit of Pitt, as a reason to play them.

Whose to say, they won’t tank this year or the next few anyhow??

Always rumors of Holgersen wanting to go to one of the Okies or Texas school to be head coach, so I wouldn’t worry too much about WVU.

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 4:30 pm

Good example, WVU whipped Clemson, what 66 to 10 or something in the bowl game.

Ask most college football fans, who has a better program, who is more of a hot bead of college football, who would you rather watch on t.v.,

9 out of 10 are still going to say Clemson, even after the smackdown.

Low, low profile.

Now, if you start talking about the movie “Wrong Turn”, well then………..

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 4:33 pm

Dan, Clemson you gotta do better than that, they are in a resurgence they won a title in the 80’s then fell off the map until recently, no one really cared about the Orange bowl cause it was a big east team that won. WVU has put the BE on their backs since Miami and VT left beating Georgia and Oklahoma in BCS bowls and Clemson, yes those are big if’s but winning or finishing at the top of the Big 12 will carry alot of weight they are also ranked every year, so having a rivalry game and beating a top tier Big 12 team probably ranked is good for recruiting, and a hell of alot better than playing a down PSU team or Iowa or any other midwest team where we don’t recruit anyway, the only exception would be Ohio State

Comment by steve h 09.19.12 @ 5:48 pm

I hate West Virginia, Notre Dame, and Penn State. So as far as I’m concerned, as long as we play at one each year, I’m ok. I realize that now that Notre Dame is semi-joining the ACC, they won’t be playing Pitt every year. The way Notre Dame-ACC agreement reads, it looks like most Pitt will play Notre Dame is once every 3 years. If that the case, I would want to get similar deals with Penn State and WVU to fill the gaps. Luck was quick to ink a yearly deal with Maryland, as their local game. So at the time he clearly didn’t want to continue the series with Pitt. Now after the realities of all the travel involved in the Big 12 have begun to sink in, he will want to schedule some games with Pitt. The situation with Pitt playing Penn State looks even better. Joiner their AD seems open to the possibility.

Comment by Justinian 09.19.12 @ 5:57 pm

@steveh, I think you have an over blown sense of where West Virginia stands nationally.

Quite easy actually.

They finished 17th last year.

Not even ranked in final top 25 at end of 2010. Lost to NC State in Champs Bowl

09′ finished 25th, lost to Florida St. in Gator Bowl.

I’m not talking about how good they may be.

I’m talking about the perception nationally of WVU.

There almost is no perception of them nationally.

Ya, actually, Clemson is way out in front of WVU.

That’s gotta be killing their fans. They woop on a team, and they still have no value.

Oh well, good for them , they deserve it, right???

Someday, if they win the Big 12 several times, are consistently in the top 10, 4 or 5 years in a row, then it might be worth re-considering.

For now,

Let them play with Iowa State, Kansas and Baylor.

Not that they get much press in Pittsburgh in the newspaper, radio or on the tv news sports to begin with, but, I’ve almost heard nothing about them this year. I mean at all, hardly a mention.

It’s like they’ve fallen off the map.

I say, keep isolating them. Don’t need em’!!!

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 7:01 pm

Well Dan I don’t live in the burgh anymore I live in ACC country and here WVU comes up alot also CFB live hosts have Geno Smith as their #1 on the heisman list they haven’t had a losing season in 10 years and finished outside the top 30 only once in that span #38,powerhouse Clemson has finished in the top 25 only 3 times in the last twenty years and had a losing season as recently as 2010, also the 2009 Pitt/WVU game is the highest rated game in espn2 history somebody is watching. So since you have your thumb on the pulse of the nation who should we play other than our longest rival

Comment by steve h 09.19.12 @ 8:05 pm

@steve h

You do have to admit, Morganhole is one the worst places to go to a football game.

The state of West Virginia is about as backwards as they come.

And with everyone at WVU being related because of the in-breeding problem…

we should take our time with who we dance with.

At least we can agree that WVU is crap!!!

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 8:29 pm

Why do West Virginia grads keep their diploma on their dashboard???

So they can park in handicap spaces!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 8:33 pm

What do West Virginia and Marshall students have in common???

They both got into West Virginia!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 8:36 pm

Yes dan I’m not going anywhere near Morgantown and I hate WVU but I do love the Brawl, also looking forward to playing Clemson and all other ACC foes, goodbye to the big east, and I just don’t see the value in playing PSU, anyway no matter who we play we have to take care of our own business hopefully we build off the big VT win and have a great season, cheers to that.


Comment by steve h 09.19.12 @ 8:43 pm

Steve, I apologize. I have to admit, after reading your one post, I thought perhaps a WVU troll was among us, and I was trying to sniff it out.

I’m sure you posted before, but there are a couple Steve’s.

And sometimes, people hijack names to troll.

I now realize, you just really love that game.

I hope you’ll accept my apology, I really thought we may have had a Mountie among us, and I apologize for badgering.

Your points are valid.

Maybe I should have read some of the above posts that you were countering.

Of course, playing Tx and Ok will help their recruiting.

I should have seen your text in context. My fault.

Still, personally, I would rather play PSU, but, all of us are different, and have different reasons. Some to help Pitt, some for nostalgia, recruiting, etc. etc.

Again, sorry for the badgering, I really thought someone had stolen your tag, should have read more above.

I apologize, Dan.

Comment by Dan 09.19.12 @ 10:27 pm


its all good we can always agree to disagree as long as its not about our love for Pitt. WOW you thought I was a hoopie, OUCH. Sorry if I come on to strong with my posts it is that I haven’t lived in western Pa in over 25 years and have been arguing with arrogant midwest and mid-atlantic CFB fans for a long time.

This thanksgiving wknd we play Rutgers, UGH! It is my belief that playing in the big east has drug Pitt down. Back when Pitt/PSU were playing for NC games and big time bowls Rutgers and Temple were tune up games and Cincy was OSU warm up bitch, now this is who we compete with for a conf. title, but the Brawl has been the one constant game that has brought national attention, it is promoted during feast week and has replaced Pitt/PSU and Ok/Neb and it is a national brand anyone who does not know who is in the Brawl does not know college football! Now its gone and we play Rutgers and don’t know who is next, I’m sorry to see it go and not having the national attention I think hurts Pitt

Comment by steve h 09.20.12 @ 5:12 am

Oh and losing to a PSU team with only 15 scollys I could never go home again, what a nightmare that would be

Comment by steve h 09.20.12 @ 5:37 am


Glad I missed the back and forth yesterday.

Fresno state wanted desperately to get into the PAC10 for decades. Well, we see they failed.
But when their push was trongest, it came with Sweeney as head coach. Much like the guy in Morgantown who bathes once a week whether ne needs it or not.
Those fresno teams were damn good and were itching to get into the PAC10. But the PAC10 WASN’T STUPID.
USC was suffering too as it hired some reject from Pitt by the name of Hackett after suffering since Robinson left.
USC eventually rebounded (LA’s pro team) and Fresno was squeezed out.
Saying that Fresno is not played because of their conference proves the point. Lots of PAC10 teams play non powers–New Mexico, etc…
But the point is that you don’t do it because this is a BUSINESS! Playing WVU is an emotional game, I understand that. But, it means nothing to the world outside. ND, PSU, OSU now that brings national attention…WVU has a wonderful program and I don’t begrudge them that, but Pitt needs to think bigger and PSU and ND on an annual basis clearly does that.
A final note…I lived in WV for many years….the myth that that team and school provides sell outs is a great con job…sure, when they have very good teams, they sell out some games, but even last year Holgerson was bitching about attendance…it is a very small market.
Most years, they will average in the 50’s for attednance…PSU, ND, OSU…well, not so constrained.

Comment by sfpitt 09.20.12 @ 7:48 am

All good Steve. You said nothing wrong nor did anything wrong.

All on me, guess I’m looking for Mountie Ghosts that aren’t there.

Good day to you.

I will also suggest, this is a huge game for Pitt this weekend fellas.

Will they come out and keep the pressure on, hopefully a 42-10, 35-14, 45-3 win, or,

a nail biter 24-21 coming down to the last minute.

The team, Gardner-Webb isn’t exciting, but, we’ll learn a lot about this team this weekend.


Comment by Dan 09.20.12 @ 9:38 am

Good day to all

This is a big game, 55-0, lets see the 2nd and 3rd string play alot.

sfpitt, I get that FSU students can’t spell Fresno and WVU students can’t spell Morgantown and Duke and USC don’t want to deal with their antics but on the field WVU is miles ahead.

The reason for this discussion is that ND is joining the ACC, we have a long term contract with them but that will change once the big east gets done extorting them and we don’t know when all this will go into affect. I contend that WVU is the best business plan for Pitt here is why, as I noted before espn2 highest rated game is Pitt/WVU these are small markets so it had to have had a large national audiance also the brawl according to Athlon sports 2011 is the 11th best rivalry in the country ahead of USC/UCLA you don’t make that list without a national following( PSU was not on that list), the 13-9 game was on all national media outlets for long after the game was over so people did stand up and notice that we beat them, it is horrible but you want the teams you play especially your rival to have a good season other wise nobody watches, a Big 12 vs ACC game will stir up intrest nation wide, more if they are both ranked.

OSU would be great and i’m all for it but they don’t need us to play them hopefully beat them and give recruits someone else close by to think about, and they can already come to PA and get big recruits (Terrell “the coach killer” Pryor) as an example, their rep is good enough to play cupcakes and still play for a title, so I just don’t see that happening.

PSU right now is a car wreck people are watching to see what bad thing is going to happen next, they are going to be a 3 win team for some time and people will stop going, at the Navy game quite a few upper tier seats were empty and after the Big 10 gets through beating the crap out of them there won’t be much left to see, they also showed the country how whacky they really are in their defence of Joe Pa and how the freeh report was wrong, you said we should bury the competition and we all complain about how we are out recruited by them so why play them and give them a chance to get that advantage back, they turned thier back on both Pitt and WVU so why not let the Brawl continue and freeze PSU out

Comment by steve h 09.20.12 @ 12:41 pm

Marshall needs WVU. Pitt doesn’t.

Comment by SFPitt 09.20.12 @ 7:48 pm

If Pitt had some local B-Ball talent, I could see scheduling the Hooples in basketball every year. But Pitt needs to recruit Philly, New Jersey, and possibly metro New York and DC. I would try to play in those locations as much as reasonably possible. Games against Villanova, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Georgetown, St. Johns, UConn shoule be pursued. As someone mentioned, a game against WVU should be done as an absolute last resort.

Comment by George 09.21.12 @ 5:21 pm

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