The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 25, 2011

WVU will march on

MORGANTOWN — I used the same analogy many times in the past and, like before, I’m sure the sun came up over West Virginia this morning.

Unless a higher power deemed otherwise.

No, not ACC commissioner John Swofford. He only thinks he’s heaven sent.

Yes, there were big doings in Morgantown. It was nearly a complete win-win situation, until late in the night, when No. 2 LSU pulled off a 47-21 over No. 16 WVU at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The flag-waving, frenzy that was the stadium Saturday night, and it was palpable, just wasn’t enough to overcome the Bayou Bengals, and allow the Mountaineers to pull off another Rocky moment.

A shame, because, the atmosphere in Morgantown was electric all day.

From the ESPN GameDay show Saturday morning, to the day-long tailgate around the stadium, to the wall-to-wall fans at the Mantrip shortly after 6 p.m. to America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy’s outstanding rendition of the national anthem, complete with a towel wave at the end (nice touch from the Logan native) Morgantown was the focal point of college football.

And for a change the reviews were all good.

I walked down the law school hill stairs with a couple of LSU fans and they could not believe the hospitality they were shown.

They said, as LSU coach Les Miles had suggested earlier in the week, that the whole Game Day experience in Morgantown was every bit as good as any SEC locale they had visited, which was all of them.

The generosity they encountered was surprising, they said, because it belied horror stories.

Make no mistake, the Mountaineer fans, especially the students, deserve major kudos for putting on their best face for the nation.

So much so that ESPN GameDay host Chris Fowler was moved to tweet

“Thank You, WVU! Tremendous scene for 1st GameDay visit. School told us 13k were there. Fired up but classy. We’ll be back.”

That’s 13 thousand for a 9-noon show.

Tell me that’s not SEC-worthy. Fans and now the nation know that it is. GameDay made sure of that. The ESPN crew has been everywhere. And WVU matched if not went beyond most.

Or ACC-worthy?

Please, that is an insult in the face of the public.

But as it is now, it’s apparently not. And that is a shame.

The ACC, and Swofford, wanted a couple of runts that the league can kick around in Pitt and Syracuse.

And that is exactly what they got.

Pitt lost at home to a mistake-prone Notre Dame team 15-12.

Syracuse was even worse, needing overtime to beat Toledo. Toledo?

Why not add them to the ACC mix, John?

Of course they got into the ACC because of money. Because of greed. Because major college football has turned into a money grabbing game that just gets uglier every day.

But what hasn’t is West Virginia’s reputation, because of fans, in general, and students, in particular.

Meanwhile, despite a 47-21 loss to LSU, West Virginia continues to tote the Big East flag. They are the flagship school of the state, and the conference.

It was WVU that got that signature win over Georgia, in Atlanta, that put the conference on the big-time map.

It was WVU, when all odds were stacked against it, beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

WVU will march on, and one day might get the respect it deserves from conferences who are following the money, not the onfield reputation.

And now, the reputation of the fans and students has been shown in a good light.

Whether or not Fowler and Company return remains to be seen.

But for now, despite the loss, the reviews were good.

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