Pitt vs. West Virginia. The Backyard Brawl. Enough said, right? Maybe not, at least according to the men currently leading the two schools’ basketball programs.
Both Pitt head coach Jeff Capel and WVU head coach Bob Huggins have spent the week downplaying the basketball version of the Backyard Brawl as being a true rivalry. Capel mentioned having no hatred towards West Virginia at all, and actually having tons of respect for the program just 70 miles south of Pittsburgh. That might be due to Capel’s personal respect for Huggins, a Basketball Hall of Fame coach he grew up watching and idolizing. That might be because of the fact what the Mountaineers do doesn’t really impact Pitt like did back when they shared a conference. Huggins also mentioned how most of his players aren’t even familiar with the history of the rivalry and he doesn’t feel the need to teach them about it or force any studying.
Now it’s necessary to take comments from head coaches as they prepare to face each other with a grain of salt. It’s not as if they want to make the game sound like the end all be all since once of them is going to lose and still has a long season ahead with a new, and hopefully improved, team.
But sports rivalries are often ignited and then kept alive over a long period of time by the fans. If the fans don’r care, a rivalry will eventually putter out. With that said, do you still consider the basketball edition of the Backyard Brawl a rivalry?
Regardless of what this game between WVU and Pitt is labeled as, it will tip-off tonight from the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh’s Oakland area. West Virginia leads the all-time basketball brawl, a matchup that was first played in 1906, 100-88.