New West Virginia football coach Neal Brown professes 'dislike' for Pitt
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Neal Brown hasn’t been at West Virginia long enough to build up any malice toward Pitt, but he was quick to jump feet-first into the rivalry during his introductory news conference Thursday.
At least, West Virginia’s new head coach has a sense for the intensity of the Backyard Brawl.
Asked if he has learned to dislike Pitt, he smiled and said, “They don’t let you sign a contract until you dislike Pitt.”
Whether he was kidding, the Backyard Brawl is on. Or, it will be starting in 2022 with the first of four games between Pitt and West Virginia through 2025. Pitt has played West Virginia 104 times, more than any other opponent, but the Backyard Brawl hasn’t been played in football since 2011. The eventual 10-year hiatus will be the longest the game has been on the shelf since the teams first met in 1895.
“I think rivalries are important in college football,” Brown said. “That’s what make it unique, rivalries and those fan bases and the interactions the fan bases have.”
Whether the rivalry will continue beyond 2025, Brown said, “Those are conversations Shane and I will have.”
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said he believes the rivalry should be played as often as possible.
“Nonconference scheduling is difficult,” he said. “I’d like to see it every year. If it’s not every year, more frequently than it has been.
“You can go with the four-year cycle, take a year or two off. But it needs to be more frequent.
“It’s something that, regionally, I’ve wanted to do here. Obviously, we have rivalries with Virginia Tech, with Maryland, with Penn State and we’re trying to keep everyone in the mix.
“Obviously, Pitt is the biggest rival we’ve had over the years, and we’ll try to keep them on the schedule as much as possible.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.