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- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

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