West Virginia and Pittsburgh have squared off in the Backyard Brawl 102 times. This year, the passion is the same but the uniforms are strikingly different. On Nov. 26, the Mountaineers will suit up in the Nike Pro Combat System of Dress. The special rivalry-day uniform pays respect to the 29 lives lost in the devastating explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine last April.
In West Virginia, coal mining is a way of life. So is football. With this in mind, Nike designers brought inspiration from the mines above ground to the gridiron. Tribute to the hard-knocks industry is evident throughout the uniform.
As the away team at this year’s Brawl, the Mountaineers will be clad in a shade of white that looks as if it has a fine layer of coal dust on the surface. Powerful block numbers on the jersey are rendered in a smudged black. The same effect is used as an allover pattern on the Pro Combat base layer, and within a band placed at the back of the waist and down the sides of both pant legs.
Accents come in University Gold, a hue that references the canaries used long ago to test toxicity in mines. The Mountaineers’ helmet also is cast in smudged black, with a thin yellow line running from front to back.
The line represents the beam of light emitted by a miner’s headlamp, and a graphic with the number 29 honors the perished miners at Upper Big Branch. The smudge effect carries over to the gloves, which read WV when the palms face outward. Lined in yellow, “Leave no doubt” is printed on the inside cuff.
Footwear in can’t-miss-it University Gold completes the commanding ensemble. A canvas with a meaningful message, the West Virginia Nike Pro Combat System of Dress also delivers significant performance benefits. The uniforms are 37 percent lighter than current designs, relieving players of extra weight in a game that demands top speed. The four-way stretch twill fabric rapidly sheds sweat and water, ensuring that even when wet, these uniforms are lighter than their standard-issue counterparts when completely dry.
Dual-density foam padding provides critical protection and greater mobility than traditional pads for unencumbered speed. The Nike Pro Combat base layer allows for specific pad placement to suit every position, providing a highly customized solution.
The game of football has evolved. Players are stronger and faster, collisions more forceful. For the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Nike Pro Combat System of Dress delivers unmatched lightweight protection in a formidable head-to-toe package.