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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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

WVU traditions return for 106th Backyard Brawl

LeSean+McCoy+runs+past+Marc+Magro+for+19+yards%2C+his+longest+run+of+the+game+at+the+Backyard+Brawl+on+December+1st%2C+2007.
TPN File Photo
LeSean McCoy runs past Marc Magro for 19 yards, his longest run of the game at the Backyard Brawl on December 1st, 2007.

This story was originally published on The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s student newspaper. In collaboration with The Daily Athenaeum, The Pitt News also published a story about Backyard Brawl traditions at Pitt. 

The 106th year of the Backyard Brawl, the infamous WVU-Pitt football matchup, is returning to Morgantown this weekend for the first time in over a decade. 

Since its inception in 1895, the game has generated an intense fan rivalry and a plethora of traditions between Panthers and Mountaineers alike. 

For WVU students and alumni, Backyard Brawl traditions range from furniture destruction to original song lyrics, all paying homage to the long-standing, sportsmanlike rivalry. 

Couch Burning

One of the most infamous WVU traditions, couch burning, dates back to a Backyard Brawl football game played in 1975, according to the Herald Dispatch

A field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter awarded the Mountaineers a win over the Panthers and caused fans to ignite multiple bonfires at off-campus student housing after the game. 

Again in 1981, a Backyard Brawl basketball game win prompted a Mountaineer fire-setting frenzy in Sunnyside, a Morgantown neighborhood located just outside of WVU’s downtown campus. 

Reports of street fires following rivalry wins continued throughout the early 2000s, with a peak of 255 street fires reported in 2003, according to The DA in 2012. 

In 2015, the city of Morgantown banned upholstered patio furniture within city limits, in an effort to curb the post rivalry game tradition. 

Country roads, take me home

The song “Country Roads” by John Denver entered WVU’s history in 1972, according to the WVU Alumni Association. 

It was at this time that the Mountaineer Marching Band, known as The Pride of West Virginia, began playing the song during its pregame show.

Following all home wins, Mountaineer fans lock arms and remain in the stadium to sing along throughout the song’s completion. 

In 1980, John Denver performed “Country Roads” live during the pregame performance at the opening of Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. 

Sweet Caroline 

A popular rendition of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond is a musical Mountaineer tradition encapsulating the infamous rivalry with the Pittsburgh Panthers. 

During the song’s hook, “Sweet Caroline” is followed by three short words, “Eat shit Pitt.” 

Although the origin of the altered song lyrics is unknown, hundreds of YouTube videos depict Mountaineer fans participating in the tradition in various locations. 

Anywhere a Mountaineer fan stands, the introduction of “Sweet Caroline” will shortly be followed by an enthusiastic “Eat shit Pitt.”

Storming the field

A tradition of WVU’s football past, and many other collegiate football fan bases, occurs as the time clock strikes zero. 

Football fans pour out of their seats in a brief wave, storming the field to celebrate an upset win. 

The last time WVU football fans stormed the field at Milan Puskar Stadium occurred in 2003 following an upset win over the Virginia Tech Hokies. 

Thousands of Mountaineer fans stormed the field to celebrate the win, with fans even attempting to tear down the stadium goal posts. 

With the return of the WVU-Pitt matchup to Morgantown, excitement is building on campus as fans prepare for the return of traditions long celebrated in the face of a rivalry game. 

The Mountaineers will take on the Panthers in the 106th Backyard Brawl on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.