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The Backyard Brawl

John Antonik
September 2012
60 color & b/w images
PB 978-1-935978-82-4
ePub 978-1-935978-83-1
PDF 978-1-935978-84-8

Purchase the Kindle Edition at Amazon



The West Virginia University Mountaineers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, separated by less than eighty miles of highway, have battled it out on the football field for more than one hundred years. Now, with Pitt announcing its departure from the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia becoming a member of the Big 12 Conference, this intense rivalry has come to an abrupt end. Thousands of players and dozens of coaches - some among the very best to ever play the game - have been a part of this famous series known as the “Backyard Brawl.”  With fantastic tales about this feud’s star-studded rosters, including  White, Slaton, Harris, Luck, Huff, Nehlen, and Rodriguez for West Virginia and Fitzgerald, Marino, Dorsett, Green, Majors, and Sherrill for Pitt, The Backyard Brawl celebrates the tradition, heritage, and pride of two outstanding universities. With unparalleled access, John Antonik, a 20-year West Virginia University athletic administrator and WVU alumnus, unearths the fascinating and humorous stories that make up this revered, colorful, and cherished football game-and more importantly, the great passion and pride these schools exhibit every time they take the field.



1943-1955: The Rivalry Resumes

1943 - The Long Shadow of Sutherland

1947 - Finally!

1952 - Pappy Makes 'em Happy

1954 - The Power of Positive Thinking

1955 - Pass the Sugar

1957-1965: Wild Times

1957 - West Virginia Survives

1959 - A “Pitt-iful” Performance

1961 - The Garbage Game

1963 - The Battle of the Brothers

1965 - Points Galore

1967-1979: The Birth of the Backyard Brawl

1967 - “Jusk” for Kicks

1970 - Bobby Blows It

1975 - McKenzie Kicks the Hell out of Pitt

1976 - Tony D Gets Tossed

1979 - Farewell, Old Mountaineer Field

1982-1991: A Changing of the Guard

1982 - A Classic Comeback

1983 - "Let's Do It!"

1985 and 1987 - A Tie and a Sigh

1989 - Kissing Your Sister; Clubbing Your Neighbor

1991-2011: The Big East Years

1991 - A Big East Blowout

1994 - E-I-E-I-O, Tractors and Corncob Pipes

1997 - For the Love of Pete

2002 - Collins Steals the Show

2007 - 13-9: Miracle in the Mountains

2009 and 2011 - Down to the Wire





About the Author


John Antonik is Director of New Media for Intercollegiate Athletics, West Virginia University and author of West Virginia University Football Vault: The History of the Mountaineers and Roll Out the Carpet: 101 Seasons of West Virginia University Basketball.


"If you enjoyed West Virginia University's football rivalry with the University of Pittsburgh, you want to get a copy of The Backyard Brawl."
Mickey Furfari, The Inter-mountain