This story by Mike Vukovcan originally appeared on our partner site Pittsburgh Sports Now.
The best thing about sports, in particular college sports, are rivalries between particular schools.
There is nothing better than legitimate hatred and smack talk between the schools and the two fan bases. No matter how hard they’ve tried, since joining the ACC Conference, Pitt hasn’t had a real rival in which both sides could enjoy this type of back and forth.
Hatred and dislike aren’t things that are able to be manufactured, either you feel it, or you don’t. Those feelings just don’t exist when games between Virginia Tech, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke are being played. While the games might mean something in the standings, they don’t register passion within the fan base.
However, as Pitt prepares to open the 2022 season, the same thing can’t be said.
Despite not playing against each other in 11 seasons, the Pitt and West Virginia fans are both counting the days until September 1st arrives.
Pat Narduzzi’s team will be looking to keep the momentum going and ultimately trying to defend their first ever ACC Championship. Neal Brown is hoping that his program can start getting some traction and positive momentum and knows that a win over Pitt will no doubt be the recipe to do just that.
The game has all the ingredients that you want to open a season. Can Pitt start off with a statement win over a long-time rival? The game will be televised on ESPN, ESPN’s College Gameday crew will be at Acrisure Stadium and the game will played in front of a sellout crowd, possibly the biggest in the history of Pitt football.
That last part is what has the two fan bases going after each other this morning. As everyone knows, for many reasons, Pitt has had trouble selling tickets and hasn’t hosted many sellout crowds over the last 20+ years. That fact is what made today’s announcement of a sellout crowd big news at Pitt.
As to be expected, especially between real rivals, the West Virginia fan base has hopped all over the news of a sellout and are patting themselves on the back for making that possible.
While that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter because such a minute topic like this has the two fan bases fired up and we’re still 27 days away from the kickoff.
I know that in today’s screwed-up world of college athletics, this won’t happen but it’s the exact reason why Pitt and West Virginia and Pitt and Penn State should be playing each other on a yearly basis.
At least we’ll be able to enjoy this build up and the actual on-field game for the next few years. It sure beats games against New Hampshire, Rhode Island or some other meaningless non-conference game.
Let’s hope that Heather Lyke and Shane Lyons can somehow find a way to do the impossible and sign a long-term deal that would ensure Pitt and West Virginia play each other every season.
The only thing that would make this game even better is if both Pitt and West Virginia were both nationally ranked.
From all indications, Narduzzi has Pitt on the path to do that and could be ranked when the initial Associated Press and Coaches Rankings are revealed. However, the Mountaineers are still a long way away from being ranked, which is why the WVU fan base has to hang their hats on crowds and irrelevant facts. The “Climb” is going a lot slower than anticipated.
I’m just doing my part to keep the fan bases engaged, LOL.
See everyone at Acrisure Stadium on September 1!