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Pitt HC Pat Narduzzi Echoes WVU’s Feelings on Backyard Brawl, Wants to Play Every Year



Neal Brown and Pat Narduzzi at Backyard Brawl

The only way rivalry games are possible these days is if both sides want them to happen. And fortunately for fans of the Backyard Brawl, it sound as if Pitt is just as interested in making sure one of the oldest rivalries in college sports gets played as often as possible.

New West Virginia AD Wren Baker has expressed his desire to continue the brawl in every sport, sentiments echoed by WVU head coach Neal Brown, and Pat Narduzzi was succinct in his answer to the question at his weekly press conference Monday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Do you want to play West Virginia every year?

“Yeah,” Narduzzi said with a grin.

WVU AD Wren Baker Wants to Play Pitt as Much as Possible in Every Sport

Narduzzi has only experienced the Backyard Brawl in Pittsburgh, but he did get two cracks against West Virginia during his time as the Cincinnati defensive coordinator in the mid-2000s. He’s been to Morgantown once. And he believes that experience will be the best teacher in showcasing the rivalry.

“We’ll learn more going down there,” Narduzzi said. “I think the kids will really learn what the rivalry is on the road and how hostile it is. I mean, rivalries are rivalries; it’s nothing more than any other game for me. We know we’re just down the road.

“But it’s a football game that means a lot to a lot of people. I think our Pitt fans are passionate. West Virginia fans are passionate. It comes down to passion. People want to see you play well in those games.”

The Backyard Brawl was one of the most anticipated games of the 2022 season, renewing the rivalry for the first time in 11 years, and it certainly delivered. The largest sporting event crowd in Pittsburgh history watched M.J. Devonshire return a fourth quarter interception for a game-winning touchdown at Acrisure Stadium last season.

It will be a much different atmosphere as the rivalry shifts 90 miles down Interstate-79, but Narduzzi is looking forward to the opportunity of playing in front of a loud, raucous crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium. It’s exactly that sort of atmosphere that makes college football so beloved across the country.

“I think every player and coach (likes playing in hostile rivalry games),” Narduzzi said. “I like coaching, period. I like playing wherever we get to play. I like going to different places. I think that’s all part of the pageantry of college football. I think everybody embraces that.”

The 2023 Backyard Brawl, the 106th edition of the rivalry, already holds plenty of intrigue. It’s somewhat of a must-win game for both sides already — but maybe more so for Brown and West Virginia.

As both Pitt and West Virginia sit at 1-1, a loss wouldn’t exactly crush Pitt’s hopes this season, but a second non-conference loss would damage local and national reputations. And it would sink Pitt below .500 for the first time since 2020.

A loss for West Virginia could spell the end of Brown’s tenure as the Mountaineers’ head coach. So, it’s safe to say there’s a lot on the line this season.

Asti: It Will All Come Down to the Backyard Brawl for Neal Brown at WVU

As it currently stands, the Backyard Brawl will continue over the next two seasons, not including the brawl in Morgantown this season, before a brief pause between 2026-28. It will pick back up between 2029-32, and there will certainly be discussions around adding additional dates down the line.

Most of this story initially appeared on our partner site Pittsburgh Sports Now.

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