Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on November 25, 2010 but considering the amount of attention the return of The Backyard Brawl is receiving in the national spotlight, I figured it might be a good idea to dig up some content from years gone by to really help those that are new to this rivalry really get a better feel for the hatred.
I cannot verify the legitimacy of this story. I’ve never seen anyone else take credit for starting the chant but, honestly, who better to give that credit to than a much-beloved figure in Mountaineer history? I’ll let y’all judge for yourselves, but as far as I’m concerned this story is officially canon.
As Mountaineer fans, we all know and love Jack Fleming. The emotion and pride in his voice prepared us for battle every gameday. When television coverage of our Mountaineers was sparse, Jack's vivid depictions of the games could make us feel as if we had 50-yard line seats. He will always be known as the the "Voice of the Mountainers."
He is a legend and so are his stories. I know I will never forget this one, as told in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"Jack Fleming's house was above the old stadium," Cook continued. "He told me, when he was a child, Pitt would come out on the field, and he would sit on his mother's lap. His mother would point down at them. And his mother would say, 'Son, that's Pitt. You hate Pitt now. You hate Pitt tomorrow. You hate Pitt until the day you die. After that, you will hate Pitt for eternity.' "
One story that very few people know (and may or may not be a fictional tale) about Jack, is the way he started the first ever "Eat Shit Pitt" chant. So sit back, pour yourself a nice tall glass of your favorite bourbon, and read a story about our second favorite cheer as Mountaineer fans.
The actual date of this incident is still under dispute, but let's put it around October 16, 1959. On that warm autumn day, a young Jack Fleming was walking the streets of Morgantown soaking in the enthusiasm for Saturday's upcoming game against the Pitt Panthers.
Every so often he would hear a faint "Let's GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS" from frat row and a smile would cross his face. Pitt had dominated the series so far and Jack wanted nothing more than to beat Pitt. While he loved his Mountaineers, he knew Pitt had more talent and needed some type of surprise for them on Saturday.
Around this time he noticed a dirty-looking man in an off "gold" shirt walking ahead of him. He knew it wasn't Mountaineer gold and suspected it was a Pitt fan that arrived a few days early for Saturday's game. Jack sped up his stride to catch up. When he got within a few feet of the man, the smell emanating from this man's person, almost made Jack fall over.
Being strong-willed, Jack pressured on. He finally managed to get ahead of the smelly man while he was waiting on High Street to cross Willey Street he saw the nasty script writing that he feared. Jack thought about stopping but knew the man was about to walk past frat row and wanted to see the carnage that was soon to ensue.
Jack continued on, but could not in good conscious let the Pitt fan get close to frat row. Before he began trudging up the hill on North High Street Jack stopped the fan and said, "You really don't want the trouble that is waiting for you if continue up this hill."
Being an idiot, the Pitt fan pushes Jack out of the way and continues up the hill. Jack shrugs his shoulders, smiles, and follows the man to see what happens.
When the man reaches the first fraternity house someone shouts from a window, "Look outside brothers, it's a Pitt fan." Soon the front yard of the frat house is filled with brothers chanting, "Let's GOOOOO MOUNTAINEEEERSSS."
Not discouraged, the Pitt fan trudges on.
At the next frat house, the brothers aren't waiting in the yard, they are coming out to the street to politely greet this Pitt fan. The brothers surround the man and immediately stagger back because of the smell. Then one of the brothers yells, "This dude smells." The Pitt fan responds, "That smell isn't me, it is the smell of this hole of a town."
When the man opens his mouth, the smell gets even worse. It is so bad, that Jack, standing many feet away, can smell the stench. The increased smell makes another brother say, "This twirp's breath smells like shit." "What did he eat?"
Jack raises an eyebrow and is hit with a moment of inspiration that will live forever in Mountaineer history. He raises his voice and started chanting "Eat Shit Pitt...Eat Shit Pitt...Eat Shit Pitt." At first, some are taken aback by this new chant, but soon everyone around is joining in. The sounds from the street pull the other fraternities out of their houses and they join together in the chant.
That next day at Mountaineer Field, when Pitt came running out, the student section began chanting "Eat Shit Pitt...Eat Shit Pitt...Eat Shit Pitt." The adults first thought the crude cheer should stop, but eventually joined and 30,000+ were chanting, "Eat Shit Pitt" in unison.
This cheer caught a talented Pitt team off guard and helped us to an upset 23-15 victory over Pitt. From that day on, any time WVU faces Pitt, you will always hear "Eat Shit Pitt" resounding through the hills and hollers of West Virginia!
Thank you, Jack!