Big 12 media days were here last week and when West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen was asked about Pitt, he was quick to say that he would like to play against the Panthers and restart the Backyard Brawl:
"I would welcome back Pitt and the Backyard Brawl any time that they want it," Holgorsen said.
Later, Holgorsen repeated that he and West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck "are most definitely" open to adding Pitt to the schedule, though he acknowledged that the programs' transition from the Big East, which featured just seven conference games per year, to the Big 12 (nine) and ACC (eight) has made it difficult to line up a non-conference matchup.
Other than some initial discussions, there hasn't been much progress made in getting the game started. By all indications, the ball lies in Pitt's court (er, field). But in between Penn State and occasional games with Notre Dame, the Panthers just don't seem particularly interested in bringing the game back.
The small number of non-conference games a team can play is a deterrent, but as CBS Sports says, the biggest obstacle is getting Pitt interested.
Two things from my vantage point. First, I'd like the game to be played. Given my choice, I've always said I'd rather see Pitt play Penn State. But if a game against the Nittany Lions isn't possible every year, playing West Virginia just makes too much sense not to do it. The point of allowing them into the recruiting footprint of western Pennsylvania is understood, but truthfully, I think they're always going to get kids from here. The game draws a ton of interest and is a sellout (or close to one). It just makes more sense to play that game than it does one against, say, Oklahoma State.
The other thing to take away from this is that the lack of a game doesn't hurt Pitt as much IMO. I've been over the rivalry issue before, but the Panthers have some other rivals to turn to in Penn State, and to a lesser degree, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. The Mountaineers' biggest rival is by far and away Pitt. Nothing else even comes close for them and that's really a negative for their program.
Pitt doesn't have a monster rival in the ACC, but at least have some upcoming games against Penn State and Notre Dame. The Backyard Brawl would benefit both sides, but in particular, would solve West Virginia's issue of not having a rival in the post-realignment days.
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