Seriously, the game last year at Utah, the games against Notre Dame, and the games in the late 1990s against Penn State. I think I'm looking forward to this one as much as any of them.
The Backyard Brawl is going to be incredible and there are two people responsible for that - new head coaches Todd Graham and Dana Holgorsen. The more I read about these gents, the more I learn that they really don't like each other. The Brawl hadn't become stale, mind you, but it really could give a lot of Pitt fans from my generation a reason to dislike West Virginia as much as Penn State.
Newer fans? Well, they already hate WVU. But a lot of people who can actually remember the Pitt-Penn State games still hold more of a hatred for the blue and white. That's sort of changing because West Virginia has been the dominant program lately, but Graham and Holgorsen are about to take this rivalry to another level.
Snippets had come out here and there about the two. We know they coached against each other...recruited against each other. But Athlon has put together an excellent piece on just how bitter the rivalry really is.
For starters, the players apparently are noticing:
"You can feel the hatred," Pitt senior defensive lineman Myles Caragein says.
So where did it start? Who knows for sure, but a 70-30 beatdown of Graham's Tulsa team in 2009 by Houston (where Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator) seems like it could be the place:
"That kind of stuff" refers to a verbal skirmish between the two following the 2009 Houston-Tulsa game, won by the Cougars, 46–45. Holgorsen, then the offensive coordinator for UH, accused Graham’s Golden Hurricane players of faking injuries to slow down the fast-paced Cougar attack.
The year before, Houston had routed Graham’s squad, 70–30, so it only made sense the Hurricane would try to keep Case Keenum and his people from rolling it up again. Though some defensive coaches will tell you they absolutely instruct their charges to feign cramps and other minor maladies to derail rival no-huddle attacks’ momentum, Graham copped to no such behavior. That didn’t make Holgorsen happy.
Holgorsen then apparently went on to call Graham's team on cheating:
While on KGOW-AM in Houston, Holgorsen gave his opinion on the matter:
"Yeah, they were cheating," he said. "We’ve got some inside information on how they did it.
"They’ve got a signal for it. We know they’ve got a signal for it. We see it on film that they’re actually doing the signal, and then all of a sudden, one of their guys just comes down with a bunch of cramps. He falls down and then the other 10 players kind of jog over to the sideline, and they use it as a timeout."
Now, the fact that Graham essentially no-commented on that doesn't mean he was guilty, but it sure makes the whole thing smell at least a bit fishy.
The article then goes on to point out that Graham's team was run off the field again by Holgorsen and crew last year, 65-28.
The fact that these two coaches disliked each other before they came is only going to serve as more fuel for the fire.
Yeah, this should be good.