MORGANTOWN -Let's be honest.
West Virginia added the wrong ACC team when it announced the Mountaineers will play a home-and-home with N.C. State.
It should have been Pitt.
It's the one everyone wants. Even Dana Holgorsen.
"I would welcome back Pitt and the Backyard Brawl any time that they want it," the Mountaineers coach said during his Big 12 media day interviews.
While WVU's second largest alumni base is in Charlotte - nearly a three-hour drive to Raleigh - there's no where near the history between these two teams as there is in the Backyard Brawl. (The Mountaineers and Wolfpack have split the 10-game series.)
The 2012 season served as the first time the Mountaineers and Panthers haven't met since 1942. In their last meeting - No. 104 in the series - the Mountaineers topped the Panthers 21-20 in Morgantown after overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit.
So why can't WVU Athletics Director Oliver Luck call up his opposite number at Pitt, Steve Pederson, and get this done?
If you've been paying attention, West Virginia is on a non-conference scheduling spree as the Mountaineers announced the additions of Tennessee (2018), Virginia Tech (2017), Penn State (2023, 2024) and, of course, N.C. State (2018, 2019).
You would think now would be as good a time as ever to renew one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college football, but it's not that easy.
First is the number of non-conference games a season.
West Virginia plays nine Big 12 games a season, while the Panthers have an eight-game conference slate. That means the Mountaineers can schedule only three non-conference games a year and Pitt four. Within those four games, the Panthers must oblige an ACC rule that a mandatory power-league game outside conference play must be scheduled.
To go along with that rule, Notre Dame has an agreement with the ACC that the Irish will rotate onto the schedule once every three years which would take care of the power-league rule for that year.
Pitt made an interesting move to abide by the rule as it scheduled a home-and-home with Oklahoma State in 2016 and 2017.
It's interesting because the Cowboys, like WVU, are members of the Big 12 conference. If the Panthers were looking for a Big 12 opponent, why not make the obvious move and choose the Mountaineers? It's not like Pitt and Oklahoma State have a history. The teams have never played each other.
An easy way for Pitt to take care of the rule? Schedule West Virginia.
In 2016 and 2017, WVU has only two of its three non-conference opponents scheduled. In 2016, the Mountaineers are set to play Youngstown State and BYU with that game being played at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. West Virginia has Virginia Tech and East Carolina scheduled for 2017.
Likewise, Pitt has scheduled three of its four non-conference games for 2016 in Villanova, Penn State and Oklahoma State and only two for 2017 in the Nittany Lions and OSU. Notre Dame, however, is likely to be added to the 2016 slate.
Anyone else see a perfect opening in both schedules in 2017?
Strength of schedule seems to be everything to West Virginia right now. Picture a nine-game Big 12 slate to go with Virginia Tech, East Carolina and Pitt.
Rumors have said Pederson wouldn't want to play West Virginia and Penn State in the same season, but why not?
Does Pitt really need to build up its confidence by beating the likes of Gardner-Webb or Florida International?
Luck is busy trying to renew rivalries and has succeeded with the addition of the Hokies, Maryland and Penn State.
But this isn't just any rivalry. It's THE rivalry.
And it needs to happen. Now.
Tony Viola can be reached via email at email@example.com.