For weeks, we'd been talking about the possibility of a Pitt-West Virginia Backyard Brawl matchup in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Mountaineers floundered down the stretch and the Panthers became bowl eligible. I mentioned it on SB Nation Pittsburgh recently and Greg wrote about it last week. The pieces were in place for a Pinstripe Bowl matchup between the two rivals, but officials chose to go with local team Syracuse instead. West Virginia is, reportedly, the opponent, but it's not been made official just yet.
The move isn't a complete surprise, obviously. Syracuse had a better year than Pitt, beat the Panthers head to head, and more importantly, is the local team and should sell a good number of tickets. But the organizers passing up Pitt for Syracuse when they could have set up a Backyard Brawl and potential interesting storyline shouldn't be ignored. Syracuse is the local team, but if organizers thought that the game would have been a big enough draw, they would have selected Pitt. What this really speaks to is that a Backyard Brawl wasn't nearly as compelling outside of the area as it may be in Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
If you think about it, though, the rivalry has generally been a local one instead of a national one. It's mentioned on a national level, but never in any great terms of others such as Ohio State-Michigan, Auburn-Alabama, or even Pitt-Penn State for that matter. While it may mean a great deal to folks around here, it's just not as important to folks nationally.
But even beyond that, organizers were apparently convinced that Pitt fans wouldn't travel in droves to New York to see the game to put money into their pockets. That's a shame for most of us who wanted to see the matchup, but the organizers need to do the best thing to make money - and to them, that meant picking the Orange ahead of Pitt. If the Panthers had a better reputation of traveling to games, things may have been different. But instead of a dream matchup, we've got to settle for the BBVA Compass Bowl instead.
Excited? Yeah, me neither.