By Phil Hecken, with Doug Keklak and Jason Bernard
There’s the “Third Saturday in October”, the “Sunflower Showdown”, and “THE Game” … We have the “Civil War”, the “Border War”, and the “Holy War” … Don’t forget the “Egg Bowl”, the “Iron Bowl”, and the “Tiger Bowl” … Not to mention the “Red River Rivalry”, the “Battle for the Bell”, and the “Battle for the Rag”. You know them well. They’re all some of college football’s oldest and most storied rivalries. They’re what many fans and alumni base their entire year around. And they come but once a year.
One such rivalry is known as the “Backyard Brawl“, a constest played annually between the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers, and it first began in 1895 — that makes it the 14th oldest rivalry in college football.
Today, I’m joined by Douggie Keklak (everybody’s favorite yinzer) and Jason Bernard (he’s the tall one on the left), who have joined forces to bring us a look at the WVU/Pitt rivalry game. Kek, of course, will handle the Pitt side, while Jason will represent WVU.
Uni Watch: So gentlemen, can you set the stage for today’s game?
Doug Keklak: Today, the West Virginia University Mountaineers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers will square off in the 103rd edition of the Backyard Brawl. The series, first played in 1895, is considered by fans of both teams to be among the best and most hotly contested in the country.
Jason Bernard: Early on, it really wasn’t much of a rivalry, with Pitt winning 31 of the first 40 matchups. The rivalry’s recent history has been much more balanced, but Pitt still holds a 61-38-3 all-time edge. The 2004 edition, the 97th game in the series, surpassed Pitt’s 96-game series with Penn State (considered by many Pitt fans to be their biggest rival).
DK: As a footnote, the series has been played in every stadium that the Pittsburgh Pirates have called home with the exception of PNC Park.
UW: You’ll be talking about a few of the more notable games today, and of course the uniforms. Looks like Nike has given a new logo to the Panthers, but WVU remains the same. What’s up with that?
DK: The schools, separated by a mere 75 miles along I-79, also sport two of the more iconic logos in the Flying WV and Pitt script. Unfortunately, the Pitt script is now inactive (save for that one glorious day, September 24, 2005 in a game against Youngstown State. Oh, and the 2007 Senior Bowl where Tyler Palko and H.B. Blades sported the script on their helmets).
UW: But today they’re both breaking out new unis. The “Pro Combat” unis.
JB: Both WVU and Pitt were selected among Nike’s 10 Pro Combat schools this season, and both will wear their respective Combat kits for the first time in this Friday’s game.
UW: But first, we’re going to talk about memorable games from the past right?
UW: Cool. So let’s see what you have in store.
DK: 1982: Pitt 16 – WVU 13. The 1982 Pitt football season was one of the most heavily anticipated in recent memory, mainly because many thought they had the best shot at being National Champions since the school achieved that feat in 1976. Jackie Sherrill left for Texas A&M and Foge Fazio took over the reins and he was led by none other than Dan Marino at quarterback. Back for his senior season, and fresh off a big victory over Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl, the Panthers seemed primed for big things.
Pitt and WVU met in week four for the Brawl and it was held at Pitt Stadium. The Panthers rallied from a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to pull out the 16-13 win. For the game, Pitt was in one of its iconic royal/mustard sets (although the sleeve material is brighter). I always loved this era as Pitt gave award stickers and they were blue circles with a panther head, but on the blue stripe, they placed yellow stickers. WVU was in white over yellow with the double stripe of blue down the pants. High white socks and TV numbers on the sleeve round out this look.
Spirits were still high following this win, but they would drop when the #1 Panthers would lose a home game with Notre Dame on November 6th that year, as well as a regular season ending loss at Penn State and finish 9-2. They then played an uninspired game against SMU in the Cotton Bowl and lost 7-3. This was my first experience into the disappointment that being a Pitt fan can be.
JB: 1988: WVU 31 ”“ Pitt 10. The 1988 game was played at Pitt Stadium in late September. Apparently nobody believed the WVU hype that year, and despite all their talented playmakers, the Mountaineers came into the game as 1-point underdogs. They left as 21-point victors, and after an 11-0 season went on to play in their first national championship game, where they were promptly smoked by Notre Dame. West Virginia wore white road jerseys with basic blue block numbers, gold pants with two blue stripes, and the Flying WV helmet. This is what I consider to be the quintessential classic WVU look (of my 33 years). Pitt went with their blue and yellow, in hues I’m guessing Kek prefers to the more brown mustard color of later years. Their gold pants featured an interesting white-blue-white stripe, and the helmets ”¦ yeah, they rocked the script.
DK: 1994: WVU 47 ”“ Pitt 41. This game was a classic Backyard Barnburner. Pitt rallied from being down 31-6 in the second quarter to take a late lead, 41-40, on the legs of a John Ryan 2-point conversion. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, Chad Johnston and Zach Abraham had just a little bit more in the tank, and WVU won on a 60 yard bomb from Johnston to Abraham with 15 seconds remaining. The third home game for Pitt among these six, the Panthers once again sported their classic blue and mustard. This was, by far, my personal favorite among Pitt’s all-time uniforms. Something about that particular shade of blue with that particular shade of mustard ”¦ unique and classic.
JB: WVU wore their road whites, which in 1994 featured blue numbers with a gold outline, and pants with no stripes. I think they needed the stripes. The classic Flying WV dressed up the helmet and, to a lesser degree, the pants.
DK: 1997: Pitt 41 ”“WVU 38. 1997 was a season of many changes. Out was Johnny Majors after his second stint as Head Panther in Charge, suffering four sub-par seasons. Walt Harris and his west coast offense were in, and the school would soon recruit talent like Larry Fitzgerald and become known for a short time as “Wide Receiver U”. Along with Harris, the school abandoned their long standing script logo that they wore on the helmet from 1973 on. Also a new color scheme of navy and gold rather than royal and either yellow or mustard was introduced. I’m embarrassed to say that in my younger days I was really excited for this change. To my immature uni-watching eye, I felt the old scheme had become “played” (oh, the err of my ways) and I was ready for something new. One thing I NEVER embraced was the new administration’s insistence on referring to the school as PITTSBURGH not PITT. They always were and always will be PITT to me.
I digress … the ’97 season was a year of rebirth and new interest in the fan base. Prior to this brawl, the Panthers upset The U on a Thursday night game. The ’97 Brawl was played at Mountaineer Field and it was a highly dramatic contest. This was the first overtime game in the history of the series and Pete Gonzalez’ fourth-and-17 completion to Jake Hoffart is still talked about on both sides of the fence in this rivalry. This play set up the winning strike for Pitt in triple-overtime, as they beat the Mountaineers 41-38. The Panthers wore white over gold in this contest with their new logo and wordmark on the jersey. WVU’s uni was blue over yellow. The pants did not feature a stripe but were solid yellow with the flying WV on the upper thigh. The TV numbers were replaced with the flying WV as well.
Pitt accepted a berth to the Liberty Bowl and though they ultimately lost to Southern Miss, they made their first bowl game since the 1989 Sun Bowl and the program seemed headed in the right direction.
DK: 2007: Pitt 13 ”“ WVU 9. As a Pitt fan, this is by far the most surprising game for me in the series. WVU came into the game ranked #2 and appeared to be in the driver’s seat for a spot in the BCS Championship Game.
WVU wore an outfit that makes many of their fans cringe to this day. Not because it’s all-yellow and they think it’s garish, but because it reminds them of most likely their most disappointing loss not only in the Backyard Brawl but in their team history.
Pitt’s gear was part of their third iteration of the new colors. However, the PITT moniker was back by ’07. They went white jersey over navy pants for this contest.
JB: 2009: WVU 19 ”“ Pitt 16. Last year’s game at Mountaineer Field was close and tense. Noel Devine broke a 6-6 tie in the 3rd quarter with an 88-yard touchdown run, and Tyler Bitancurt kicked a 43-yard field goal as time ran out to win the game for the Mountaineers. This game is representative of what both schools currently look like during typical games. WVU went blue over blue (my favorite of their current combos), with gold batwings and stylized numbers. As a Mountaineer fan, it took me a while to warm to this particular font. I’ve convinced myself it was designed to evoke the lines, weight and overall style of the Flying WV, and that makes me sleep a little better. Still not a huge fan, though. Pitt laid their egg in white over white, featuring pants with a simple and classy gold-blue-gold stripe, and gold helmets with their clean, if uninspired, block PITT lettering.
UW: Thanks, fellas. Now. Let’s get to today’s game — the one where Nike will be outfitting both your teams in
superhero Pro Combat unis.
JB: The game today is in Heinz Field. WVU will go white on white, with helmets, numbers, shoulders and base layers featuring a smudged black and charcoal pattern, meant to represent what a white uniform might look like after spending a shift in one of West Virginia’s coal mines. Personally, I think they’d be a hell of a lot more smudged than that, but whatever. The canary yellow shoes are supposed to represent the canaries that were once used to test the toxicity of the mines, and the yellow helmet stripe represents the beam of light from a miner’s helmet. Corny? Yeah, but I have to say, I’m a big fan of this set. I would probably prefer that the Flying WV was all-gold, or charcoal and gold, but I think the blue and gold works in a weird way as well. Oh, and they’re doing the glove thing too.
DK: I am semi-satisfied with the Pro Combat uniform Nike came up with for Pitt. I’m not 100% crazy about it, but it’s not the worst of the bunch. I don’t hate the PITT i-beam wordmark as much as a lot of fans seem to. I really think the shoes are cool, I like the blue/gold contrast. I’m disappointed a bit in a monochrome look. I guess it’s not different enough from the regular kit, save the blue helmet. Yes, the Panthers have the gloves too. Of course, I wasn’t going to be 100% happy with it unless they went with the script concept that had been floating out on the ‘net since early in 2010.
Well, there you have it. Big thanks to Kek and Bernard for all their research and assistance in this post. So, now that you know about the Brawl, you definitely want to watch it, right? It’s on ABC at Noon (eastern) — and there’s a bit more than bragging rights at stake with Pitt sitting at 6-4 (but 4-1 in the Big East) and WVU at 7-3 (3-2 in the Big East). There’s a very good chance the winner will be the BCS’s Big East candidate for the automatic berth in the Fiesta Bowl where they will
get their asses handed to them play the Big 12 champion.
The 2010 Backyard Brawl — It’s On!
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
This week, only one reader took up the challenge of colorizing them, but the results are great.
Michael Ferry not only colorized the Nagurski pics, but he submitted a wonderful panoramic from the previous week, of the 1917 Cubs. Here’s Michael:
I was a little more proactive this week. Last week I actually did tackle the Cubs panorama, but work ate into my time. Also — I was trying to get both suggested color schemes for the socks, but forgot to save a copy instead of the original at one point. Save early, save often…but know what you’re saving, I guess.
Still, I eventually finished, and even though it’s a little too late, I’ve attached it. If nothing else, I hope it adds another point of view. And, as I mentioned previously, I really like doing the work — it lets me see the past in a whole new light.
Seeing the great work by everyone else is also very appreciated. Thanks again for explaining your process and for adding the Colorize This segment to Uni Watch.
Re: Nagurski, on the first picture, I couldn’t tell who the opponent was. I poked around, finding the Uni Watch Pro Football Uniform History Project. I also came across a site for Green Bay (UW has linked to it a number of times.) I finally decided to go with the Boston Redskins and Detroit Lions. Personally I prefer the Boston colors, but I really don’t know for sure if it was them or someone else.
The second shot looks sort of hand tinted, but I like how it turned out.
Anyway, thanks again for the work you do.
Thanks Michael. I realize this was a holiday week but I hope you guys will continue with the colorizations. I got a special request in this week and I would love it if you guys will accept the newest challenge. Here’s Paul Bielewicz to explain:
Greetings, hope all is well. We’ve discussed my Rochester Red Wings uniform project in the past. I have quite a few B&W Red Wings photos that I would LOVE to have colorized. Would you be interested in running any Red Wings photos in your “Colorize this” section?
I’ve attached a new photos for your consideration. Here are the color descriptions:
Powell (1961): Helmet: navy. “Ball with Wings” emblem (on helmet): white ball with red wings (white highlights on wings). Jersey and pants: cream-white. Striping on jersey and pants: red. “Red Wings” chest lettering: red with very thin navy outline. Jersey front numbers: red with navy outline. Undersleeves (navy). Socks: navy. Striping pattern (from top): white-red-white-blue-white-red-white. Shoes: black.
Musial (1941): Hat: navy with red “R”. Jersey: cream-white. Striping (sleeve end and placket): red-white-red. “Red Wings” chest lettering: navy with red outline.
1932 Red Wings: Basic uniform is cream-white. Hat fronts and brims are red, hat backs are white. “Pennant”-shaped inserts on sleeves are red, as are undersleeves. Belt loops, tunnels and pocket flaps are red. “Ball with Wings” logo on left player’s chest: Ball: white. Wings: red. Stitching on ball: Dark blue or black. Socks: top and bottom sections are red. Sock striping pattern (from top): thin white / thin red / thick white / thin blue / thick white / thin red / thin white. Shoes: black.
Mize (1933): Cap: white with red stripes and brim. Jersey and pants: gray. “Ball with Wings” chest emblem: white ball, red wings, black (or dark blue) stitching. Belt loops: red. Belt: black. Undersleeves: white. (wood-color for background).
Wow. Great photos, Paul — love that shot of Boog Powell!
OK, colorizers — here’s a chance to really show off your skills, and help a fellow UWer out in the process. So give it your best shot, and send any or all to me. As always, I’ll post your colorizations in the next installment.
Lots and lots of tweaks keep pouring in, so obviously this is a popular feature. A bunch new to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
Now, on to today’s tweaks:
Starting off the show is Daniel Rerko, who actually has done an entire set of NFL tweaks based on “city/state flag colors.” I’ve always liked this idea, and even explored it way back in 2009 with the AL and NL in baseball. Check out how that might look for the NFL:
I came up with thirty two more tweaks, all of which have colors based up the city flag, state flag, or city seal of that particular team. Along with just color changes, I made a few slight adjustments to a few teams, and made a complete overhaul on a team or two. I hope you enjoy!
Next up is Jay Jackson who has a new brew crew:
The Brewers have a good set but it is lacking some areas. Milwaukee should be on the road uniform. I added front piping to the road and gold pinstripes to the home. I think this look is simple but works for this team.
And finally today we have Paul Barrett, who has combined colorization and a tweak all in one. Here’s his take on the Washington football club:
Thought I’d send this along. As a skins fan, and someone who uses photo-editing software for a living, I’ve been mixing the old uniform style with the new. I’ve attached a colorized Sammy Baugh (not really a tweak, but still something) and Here is how The Skins should look today. Three different versions; all inspired by the Baugh photo.
Thanks for the great posts on the weekends and when Paul’s away!
OK, that’s all for this Black Friday. Check back on Sunday for more.
Black Friday Uni Watch
In a surprising, but not unprecedented move, yesterday’s Thanksgiving games featured three color-on-color matchups, as the Patriots and Lions played the early game in their old-school red versus blue throwbacks. Anticipation was high for the Dallas game, as the Cowboys busted out their blue throwbacks (breaking their string of consecutive white jersey wearings) and the Saints followed suit by reprising their gold alternate throwbacks which they wore once in 2002 versus the Vikings. Finally, in the late game last night, the Jets and Bengals went green versus orange.
that was all a “Bobby’s Dream” segment from Dallas … either that or someone made THE Jeff NFL Commissioner for the day.
We can add one more game to the small but growing list of recent color versus color games in the NFL. Interestingly, the Pats and Lions game was actually a rematch of their 2002 Thanksgiving game in which both teams wore throwbacks. This time, however, the Lions wore black facemasks. Granted, they were throwing back to an era when no facemasks were worn, but you’d think they could have worn gray or silver.
Once again, the NFL proves that color versus color can work. Now, I’m not saying I want to see every game as color versus color or even see it a lot — but there is no reason anymore that we still need to have one team in white, other than the fact that the edict from 1956 has been around so long that we’re only used to having one team always wearing white. It didn’t use to be that way. And there really is no reason for a few select games a year the NFL shouldn’t allow some color versus color games.
OK, Uni Watchers, thanks for letting me bring you this special Black Friday edition of Uni Watch. And big thanks to Kek and Bernard for the preview of the Backyard Brawl as well. Lots of college action today and tomorrow — big rivalry games abound. Not only will WVU and Pitt be wearing their special Pro Combat uniforms, but on Saturday, in The Game in the Shoe … it won’t just be a game — it will be WAR! Tastefully done swooshie…tastefully done.
I don’t really like the Lions throwbacks but I can deal with them. Not horrible, not great, just not much there. Kinda like the taste of water. — Ben Traxel