The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 14, 2012

Shamefully out of hand

— It’s been a very exciting football season for the West Virginia University Mountaineers so far.

West Virginia University followers can be very proud of WVU’s exploits on the gridiron midway through the inaugural season as a Big 12 Conference member.

But it’s shameful the way a few “fans” have chosen to show their ignorance by “celebrating” victories with acts of violence and destruction in the streets of Morgantown.

The scenes are more riots than rallies.

The displays of mindless revelry are an embarrassment to the state, its flagship university and to all those who proudly sport the gold and blue and carry themselves with dignity and decorum — win or lose.

It’s OK to hoot and holler, waving a banner for your team, of course.

A capacity crowd that gets loud and a little rowdy has been known to be beneficial for home teams, during the game itself.

But there is no excuse for setting fires in the streets, causing damage to property and raising safety issues and concerns for residents and students alike — especially in the name of jubilation for a football game.

It’s ridiculous and absurd, in fact.

The offenders do not represent the majority of West Virginians or WVU football fans, but to a nation, and a world watching — they do.

That’s sickening.

After the Mountaineers win at Texas on Oct. 6, knuckleheads numbering at “about a thousand” according to police, ran out to the streets in the Sunnyside area of Morgantown and started fires, damaged vehicles, turned over light poles and even threw objects at officers attempting to control the situation.

While celebrations following WVU football games have spilled out onto the streets of Morgantown for more than 30 years, it’s now escalated to an extremely dangerous and disgusting level.

A couch-burning circa 1988 is tame compared to some of the video violence from Touchdown City that could make some Middle Eastern protesters blush.

This is not what West Virginia should be recognized for.

It distracts greatly from the exceptional accomplishments of the Mountaineers football team.

Morgantown Police are promising to be more proactive and “prevent the mayhem” from occurring. WVU President James P. Clements promises to “strengthen expulsion and discipline policies for students caught in criminal behavior.”

New plans for addressing the problems are being undertaken by police and WVU officials but aren’t being publicized so that the surprise may be on these bands of idiot brigades if they step out of bounds in the future.

Our hope is that our state, which could garner a ton of favorable publicity the Mountaineers are affording us through their exciting play on national TV each week, doesn’t suffer more damage to its image through the acts of a minority acting like fools.

Country Roads, still take us home.

This is Almost Heaven.

Despite the hell-raisers pouring out of the Sunnyside bars.