The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Students, faculty give takes on 2023 Backyard Brawl

Pitt+fans+show+off+a+sign+that+reads+WV+was+our+safety+school+in+the+stands+of+Acrisure+Stadium+before+the+Backyard+Brawl+on+Thursday.
Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer
Pitt fans show off a sign that reads “WV was our safety school” in the stands of Acrisure Stadium before the Backyard Brawl on Thursday.

College football is arguably the most popular sport — deservedly or not — at the University of Pittsburgh. With a deep history of past success and bitter rivalries, many people first heard of Pitt through their efforts on the football field. 

But with its success and culture, Pitt has made fans out of its faculty and students, including business school professor Yun-Oh Whang, who is both faculty and an alum.

“I’ve been watching Pitt football since I came to graduate school here in 1995,” Whang said. “I left the University and returned as a professor nine years ago, but I’ve maintained my fandom throughout the years.”

The Backyard Brawl takes place this weekend between Pitt and its archrival West Virginia. And despite the Brawl taking place in Morgantown this weekend, Pitt fans are still heavily anticipating the 106th matchup. 

But the Panthers’ loss to Cincinnati last Saturday left a sour taste in some fans’ mouths as they look forward to the Backyard Brawl.

“I think Cincinnati was the better team,” Whang said. “We have to thank Cincinnati for exposing our weaknesses, but a lot of people were disappointed with the results of the game.”

Whang is not the only Pitt fan upset about the results of last Saturday. From older to younger Pitt fans, an upset loss at home will always leave fans desiring more. 

“I have just been a fan for a little over a year,” sophomore Dom Salow said. “The loss was not a good feeling, and I’m not sure how I feel headed down to West Virginia.”

As a sophomore, the first Pitt game Salow attended was the reinstallment of the Backyard Brawl last season. Salow has yet to see signs of improvement from the Panthers since last season, so his expectations are low. 

Not all newer fans feel the same way, though. Senior education major Hallie Sill became a Pitt fan four years ago and is confident heading into enemy territory.

“I’ll be a Pitt football fan even when I graduate,” Sill said. “I’ll never say the Panthers won’t win.”

For Pittsburgh transplants, it may take a while to truly understand the extent of the Backyard Brawl. The gap in the rivalry between the two regional foes over the past decade limited its reach to some younger fans. 

But for others, age doesn’t matter. First-year student Alaina Gasparovich, a Robinson Township native, grew up on Pitt football. Gasparovich was almost offended when asked about her passion for Pitt football and their rivalry with the Mountaineers.

“I was born and raised here,” Gasparovich said. “On a scale of 1-10, my passion is 100. It’s through the roof.”

From seasoned and lifelong fans to novice fans, the Backyard Brawl sparks plenty of opinions from fans. But what about predictions and hot takes?

For Whang, a win on Saturday relies on the Panthers’ effort and execution. 

“I think we’re going to win,” Whang said. “But we will have to show something. We need to show our fighting spirit if we want to get a win on the road.”

Whang maintained a neutral attitude toward the matchup and tempered expectations heading into the Brawl. Gasparovich, on the other hand, was the complete opposite.

“I think we score 40 points against the Mountaineers this year,” Gasparovich said. “I predict us to win 40-18.”

A high-scoring, blowout affair is not in the cards for Sill, who has faith in the Panthers but predicts a lower-scoring bout due to an elite defensive performance.

“I believe our defense will pull through for us and intercept West Virginia a few times,” Sill said. “Pitt wins 21-14.”

All in all, the takes were vastly cool. Most fans have modest expectations after the Cincinnati game but expect the Panthers to prevail as the victor. 

That is, except for Salow, who chose the Mountaineers to upset the Panthers at home and set couches ablaze in the streets of Morgantown. 

“I think [Phil] Jurkovec will throw a good amount of picks,” Salow said. “I would score the game 28-14 in favor of West Virginia.”

Saturday marks the 106th edition of the Backyard Brawl. And from the “Garbage Game,” to “13-9” to “The Pitt 6”, legendary moments were created. New fans are made with each extension of the rivalry. And while their opinions on the final outcome may differ, the Backyard Brawl keeps fans excited to tune in.

About the Contributor
Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor
Jermaine Sykes is the Assistant Sports Editor for The Pitt News. He is a part of the College of Business and Administration class of 2024 and is double majoring in Marketing and Human Resources Management. He is also pursuing a Sports Management certificate and an Economics minor. He has written over 90 articles as a member of the sports staff.