Catamounts look to take back the Jug


Head Coach Mark Speir and the catamounts will face Appalachian State Saturday, Oct. 27

Western Carolina vs. Appalachian State, enough said. The catamounts and mountaineers will meet on the gridiron in the annual “Battle for the Old Mountain Jug,” Saturday, Oct. 27 in Cullowhee, NC. A rivalry that meets annually has been dominated by the mountaineers who have won 56 of the 75 meetings (56-18-1). However, more fuel to the fire may have been added to this rivalry when Mark Speir left Appalachian State to become the head coach of Western Carolina.

Coach Speir in his first season at the helm has posted a 1-7 overall record, but has the catamounts playing at a highly competitive level. “We’re not here to be competitive, we’re here to win football games,” said Speir. That positive attitude is one of the reasons there has been a change in intensity on the field from the catamounts this season.

Speir began his coaching career in Cullowhee (1991-96) when he worked under former coach Steve Hodgin. Prior to his return to WCU, he spent the last nine seasons at Appalachian State serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator while also coaching the inside linebackers. He won three consecutive FCS National Championships with ASU including one of the biggest upsets in college football history when his mountaineers took down the heavily favored Michigan Wolverines in 2007. Speir has now returned to Cullowhee, this time as the head honcho.

“This is not Mark Speir vs. his old team. This is Western Carolina vs. Appalachian State. This is a rivalry that has lost a little bit of its juice in recent years. I am not going to treat them any different than a Citadel, Elon or a Georgia Southern. Our goal does not change. We’re going to try to beat them like we would anybody else.”

The catamounts have not defeated the mountaineers since 2004 and these seniors would like nothing more than to make that happen on Saturday.