Mike McGlynn and the Panthers' other upperclassmen deserved it as much as the coaching staff. No Pittsburgh player had been part of a win against the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.VA. during their career, and this was among the team's biggest of all time.
There were many Panthers who earned accolades for the victory, but the seniors -- who endured a 16-19 record and no bowl games the past three seasons -- deserved them more than most.
"That was the best win in my career,'' McGlynn said. "Nobody believed in us, but we got the job done tonight. We were 28 1/2-point underdogs. ESPN Game Day, they thought that we could only win if West Virginia didn't show up. Well, they showed up, and we showed up, too, and came up with the win.''
McGlynn also thanked ESPN analyst Lou Holtz. The former Notre Dame coach gave an impassioned pep talk for the Panthers during his TV commentary Friday. McGlynn mentioned former Pitt star Mark May as well and the Game Day crew once again.
"To Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Mark May and everybody who doubted us, we shocked the world today,'' McGlynn said. "In the Backyard Brawl, anything can happen, baby. We knew what we had to do. We had to come out and play physical, and we believed in each other. That's all that mattered.
"This victory was sweet, and it's the best that I've ever been associated with in my life. If we would have lost every game this season, but finished it with a win against West Virginia, my senior season would have been a success. I really mean that. It was a great victory for Pitt.''
The Panthers honored 10 seniors who played in their final home game last week. Along with McGlynn, defensive ends Joe Clermond and Chris McKillop, left tackle Jeff Otah, center Chris Vangas, safety Mike Phillips, tight end Darrell Strong, outside linebacker Jemeel Brady and cornerbacks Kennard Cox and Lowell Robinson just played in their last game at Pitt.
"For our seniors, who gave such great effort all year, they were great,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "If you look at them, they're such a small class of 10, but they were all contributors.
"They weren't all starters, but all had a role. They didn't have any control over some things that happened earlier in the year that prevented us from winning more games, but when we're talking about West Virginia next year and in the future this game will be one of the first tapes that team will see.
"It's a great win for our seniors to go out on,'' Wannstedt added, "and it's a win that they'll be remembered for the rest of their lives.''
McGlynn was a perfect spokesman for the group.
"We went out with a bang, baby,'' McGlynn said. "We got through this season as a team, and I think we proved a lot with this victory. We didn't have a lot of things go our way this season, but we pulled together and beat the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country in their house.
"That's a big win no matter how you look at it, and I think we showed that we have a good football team that has a bright future. We came into this game knowing that the Big East wanted to get a team in the national championship game, and they tried. But it didn't work out.''
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