While college football shifts their focus towards media rights, licensing agreements and branding — the traditions and pageantries that make the sport so wonderful continue to take a back seat.
Caught in the crossfires of the transformation is the Backyard Brawl, a historic rivalry between West Virginia and Pittsburgh.
Often referred to as one of college footballs finest, the Backyard Brawl has slowly become nothing more than internet message board chatter and banter between both schools athletic directors. The game appears to have become more of an afterthought of a new scheduling agreement. While neither university has, to our knowledge, taken steps to renew the series, both have continued to fill their non-conference schedules for the foreseeable future.
The troubling reality, though, is both schools could have worked to make the game happen again.
Pittsburgh recently scheduled a home-and-home series with Marshall Cincinnati — two schools the Panthers would have to venture directly through West Virginia to reach. The Panthers also made sure to fulfill their scheduling requirements with the ACC and reached an agreement with a Big 12 opponent, Oklahoma State.
The ACC requires each school to schedule at least one power five opponent and Pitt decided to bypass Morgantown and continue west for another 1,084 miles.
The blame isn’t solely on the Panthers, though.
West Virginia has reached numerous agreements for future non-conference games, the most notable being against Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers have also added North Carolina State, another ACC member, for 2018 and 2019.
Both schools athletic directors — Shane Lyons (West Virginia) and Scott Barnes (Pittsburgh) have stated they would “entertain” the renewing of the series. Even with the possibility being tossed around nothing appears imminent.
“That’s on my radar,” Lyons recently told WVMetroNews. “It’s not going to be two years from now. We’re probably looking at 2022 and ’23 to do a home-and-away, but I would love that.”
Note: As of now the Mountaineers have only scheduled Virginia Tech in ’22 and Penn State in ’23.