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Bob Huggins, Jeff Capel Both Talk Current State of Backyard Brawl Rivalry



During the lead-up to the 189th edition of the Backyard Brawl, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and Pitt head coach Jeff Capel have both talked about the rivalry and how it is different in today’s era.

West Virginia and Pitt will play for the fifth time on Friday night since the series was revived in 2017. The Mountaineers have won fives games in a row, dating back to 2012. Huggins talked about how the rivalry isn’t discussed amongst his team as it used to be.

“We don’t have guys that grew up watching the rivalry or hearing about the rivalry,” Huggins said on Thursday. “They don’t really know anything about it. We haven’t talked about it at all.”

West Virginia currently has brought in nine new players to their program, all from different levels of college basketball. Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews and Kobe Johnson are the only three players to have appeared in the Backyard Brawl, despite WVU and Pitt playing just last season. Huggins’ comments make sense as not many players from his current group truly understand the rivalry’s history.

Huggins has the most experience out of any player or coach in the Backyard Brawl rivalry. The Hall of Famer played in the rivalry and has coached for over a decade in it.

On the other side, Capel acknowledges the rivalry but doesn’t see it as the traditional West Virginia and Pitt fans see it.

“It’s an honor to have the chance to play them,” Capel said on Monday night. “I understand the rivalry, I understand the intensity of the rivalry. I don’t think it’s hatred, maybe hatred with the fans but I know that I don’t hate anyone. I have a lot of respect for their program.”

Watch: Pitt HC Jeff Capel Details Respect for Bob Huggins Ahead of Backyard Brawl

West Virginia and Pitt will continue the basketball edition of the Backyard Brawl until next season’s game. After that, it’s up to WVU AD Shane Lyons and Pitt AD Heather Lyke to extend the series.

“That’s above my pay grade,” Huggins said. “That’s [up to] the athletic directors.”

West Virginia will travel to Pitt on Friday for the 2022-23 edition of the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers and Panthers will tip-off at 7 p.m. inside the Petersen Events Center.

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