West Virginia AD says renewing 'Backyard Brawl' with Pitt a top priority

Written By Bob Hille
'Backyard Brawl' fans
(Getty Images)

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, on the job at his alma mater only since February, says few topics have been more pressing than whether the Mountaineers' football rivalry with PItt, dubbed "the Backyard Brawl," will resume, the PIttburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The two teams haven't met since 2011, the season before Pitt joined the ACC and West Virginia joined the Big 12.

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But a week after Pitt AD Scott Barnes said he and Lyons were talking about potentially renewing the historic series, Lyons reaffirmed his commitment.

“It’s one of my top priorities in scheduling,” Lyons said. “I think it’s a great thing for us as a university, it’s a great thing for Pitt and it’s a great thing for college football as a whole.”

According to the Post-Gazette, however, several scheduling obstacles must be cleared by the schools that are only 75 miles apart:

Neither has an open out-of-conference date until 2017. The Mountaineers have have existing series agreements with Maryland, Missouri, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among others, and the Panthers have similar arrangements with Oklahoma State, Penn State and Tennessee.

Also, because West Virginia plays nine Big 12 games, Lyons said he plans each year to schedule two Power Five non-conference opponents and one non-Power Five foe. Three of WVU's next five non-conference schedules with open dates already include two Power Five opponents, so barring breaking a contract, there's no space for a Brawl.

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For now, though, WVU and Pitt fans can take solace in the fact that the men currently in charge of building future football schedules at least share a desire to restart the rivalry.

“I’ll continue those conversations with Scott and see where it heads,” Lyons said. “Obviously, (Barnes has) only been on the job for a couple of weeks now, but we did have a preliminary discussion of saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to talk to you about scheduling.’ He was open to talking about scheduling, so it’s just a matter of getting both schools to sit down and look at what we have and what they have open and trying to make something work.”

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