The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 17, 2009

Roles reversed for Backyard Brawl

MORGANTOWN — It is now Week 1 of a two-week long celebration of The Backyard Brawl.

Or, as we try to give it some real meaning this year, let us put it this way:

Pitt-West Virginia: The Shoe is on the Other Foot

The scene is the same, Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, as it was two years ago when the Panthers came to town and pulled the stopper on West Virginia’s tub full of soothing warm bathwater, allowing them to watch their season go down the drain.

Only this time it is Pittsburgh with everything to lose. The Panthers are the ranked team, the Panthers are the team sitting on a Big East championship, the Panthers have the star players.

And it all will be played under the lights, ESPN today announcing a 7 p.m. starting time on Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, and a national television audience on ESPN2.

Two years ago, the Mountaineers were unbeaten, four-touchdown favorites, coached by Rich Rodriguez, ranked No. 1 in one of the polls and heading for the National Championship game with a victory, only to — and there’s no nice way to put it — get their fannies whipped.

It was a game that turned both programs around.

Rodriguez ran away from it to Michigan and WVU has not regained those heights under Bill Stewart.

As for Pitt, it improved last year and jumped among the national elite this year.

“That game seems so long ago,” Pitt Coach Dave Wannstedt said earlier this year on one of the Big East coaches conference calls. “At that point, where we were at, it was a critical win for us. It springboarded us into the next season. It helped with recruiting. It gave our players and fans at least some hope we might be a capable team. At that given time it was an important game for us.”

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Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

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