MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- This week, Pitt Coach Dave Wannstedt was asked about the way Friday's game against West Virginia might play out and even hinted that neither team will score many points.
The specifics of the conversation didn't hinge on the meaning of the Backyard Brawl because Wannstedt's reply touched on a nerve that's still stings Mountaineer fans after 40 years.
"The minute you say that," Wannstedt said of the likelihood of a low-scoring contest, "and it's a 36-35 game."
Interesting choice of score. Wannstedt was a freshman at Pitt in 1970 and on the freshman team in a time when only sophomores, juniors and seniors could play on varsity squads. The Panthers played host to West Virginia in the 63rd Backyard Brawl and trailed 35-8 at halftime.
Pitt won, 36-35.
"All I remember was I just kept looking up to the scoreboard," said Wannstedt, who watched from the stands at Pitt Stadium. "I was trying to figure out how it was the fourth quarter and we were within 10 points of tying this thing up. It was just a remarkable game - a remarkable game."
Wannstedt's counterpart in Friday's game at noon and on ABC at Heinz Field, WVU Coach Bill Stewart, also was on the freshman team that finished 3-1 that season with wins against Pitt, Virginia Tech and Maryland. He can remember where he was and what he was thinking that Oct. 17 afternoon.
"Very vividly," he said.
And that's about all Stewart cares to offer.
"It was 40 years ago," Stewart said. "It was a very tough loss for those seniors that year. I felt bad for them."
Stewart's brevity hasn't been reserved for that game this week. He's been more frenetic than usual and tried to get from one point to the next as efficiently as possible. His conference calls and press conferences have been uncharacteristically short and filled with equally unexpected concise responses.
"I'm a little more short this week because I want to get to the point," Stewart said. "I want everything I'm doing to be about this Friday."
Friday is about Pitt and WVU, though every time the schools play football against one another the 1970 game is mentioned.
"I'll never forget it," said Mike Sherwood, who was WVU's quarterback that day. "Never, ever forget it. Can't."
Dave Havern, who started as Pitt's quarterback for an injured John Hogan, can't let go, either, though for obviously different reasons.
"It was," Havern said, "my Andy Warhol moment."
The Mountaineers started the season 4-0 in Bobby Bowden's first season as head coach and were No. 11 in the country before losing at home to Duke, 21-13. A week later, WVU traveled to Pittsburgh, strayed from its dive option scheme and ran some wrinkles very well early on with Bob Gresham and Eddie Williams.