Five years ago today, Rich Rodriguez's WVU team was preparing to slaughter a hapless Pitt Panthers team that had gone 4-7 on the season. I wasn't there, but I'd have to guess they were feeling pretty confident. And why wouldn't they? WVU had annihilated Pitt two straight years. Pitt had lost earlier in the season to Navy at home. WVU, on the other hand, was running on all cylinders. This was the year RichRod's offensive scheme was a masterpiece with Pat White and Steve Slaton putting up video game numbers all season. WVU was a 28.5 point favorite, and the only question seemed to be whether or not WVU would rest their players before their lead hit five scores. Kirk Herbsteit mentioned before the game that the only problem the Mountaineers would have with Pitt is whether or not they had enough shoes.
But things didn't happen that way. Instead, Pitt's defense played out of their minds in one of the most hostile environments in college football to hold WVU's high-powered offense to just one touchdown en route to a 13-9 victory over the #2 Mountaineers.
Aaron Torres wrote a fantastic article last year about the game and how it forever changed college football. Go read it. But here's the gist: If WVU wins, RichRod stays at WVU to coach in the championship game. Les Miles and LSU don't have a shot at the BCS title game and instead are Sugar Bowl bound. Would Les Miles have then been the pick at Michigan? There were reports indicating that he was.
Further, with RichRod at WVU and the school likely fresh off a national championship, does Western Pennsylvania super-recruit Terrelle Pryor commit to the Mountaineers like many expected at the time? And now for the final mind-bending scenerio: without Pryor at Ohio State, there likely are no sanctions. Would Jim Tressel be preparing to coach his #1 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game today on their way to meeting Notre Dame in January's national championship game?
There is no spoon. Would all of that have happened? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is no doubt that a 5-win Pitt team dramatically altered the college football landscape.
And for your viewing pleasure, the best video on YouTube:
I love everything about that video. The music is perfect. The clip of the overconfident WVU defender getting in Pat Bostick's face early is perfect. The shots of WVU fans and their sad, sad faces. Perfect.
The runner-up has to be RichRod's sad, sad "nightmare" press conference after the game. Hear those noises? That's Pitt celebrating in the visitor's locker room:
Watch the video, but Chick Finder drew the image vividly in the next morning's Post Gazette:
FSN had a great hour-long special on the game where they mashed up actual clips from the locker room with RichRod's press conference. No idea where to find that video now. I'd love to have a copy.
And now that we live in an era with camera phones, some video of general campus merriment. Hat-tip to the guy at 1:45 who says "Everyone to the cathedral!"
Yeah, Pitt won five games that year. There would be no bowl game for the Panthers. Most of the seniors walked off the field that night to never play again. The Mountaineers went on to handily defeat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl to claim their second BCS Bowl win. But knowing that Pitt ruined WVU's shot at their first ever national championship in heartbreaking fashion? That's the stuff of legends. And the legend will always be remembered by one short, now iconic phrase: "13 to 9!"
Hail to Pitt.