Commentary: Mountaineer football and the view from up top
I was fortunate to obtain media credentials that placed me in the press box and at the post-game press conferences for West Virginia’s Week 1 game against Maryland in College Park. I was equally fortunate to obtain season credentials for the same access at all West Virginia home games.
As such, I’ve had a literal bird’s eye view of both the bad and then good that Mountaineer football has experienced this season. What a difference a week made, from the very low-low feeling that opening loss to Maryland brought to the program, to the high-high the rout over Long Island University brought in Morgantown.
Of course, everybody understands there is a stark contrast in competition when comparing the Terrapins to the Sharks.
That loss to Maryland stung. It stung for a few reasons. First, it’s the Battle of the Potomac, right, we’re neighbors, in our neck of the woods, you have to live beside, work beside, shop beside and dine beside these folks. It also stung because the Mountaineers had the win and let it slip away. It stung because it was Week 1, I mean, who wants to start a season with the loss.
Bigger than those things, however, it stung because WVU’s beloved but sometimes fickle fan base immediately began questioning whether we should heed Neal Brown’s advice to “Trust the Climb,” but also his choice in quarterback, with many looking to see what Garrett Greene can do.
It was tough to see the obvious disappointment in Coach Brown in the post-game press conference. It was tough to see the obvious disappointment in athletic director Shane Lyons as he stared into an empty stadium after the loss to Maryland, no doubt pondering that this wasn’t the way he envisioned starting out the season and Year 3 of the Neal Brown era.
Then came the patsy, which the dictionary defines as “a person easily taken advantage of.” The patsy in this case was the Long Island University Sharks, WVU’s Week 2 opponent within the friendly confines of Mountaineer Field. Boy did WVU ever need the services of a patsy.
Let me be clear, by referring to Long Island as a patsy, I mean no disrespect. The Sharks knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and were more than willing participants in the affair. By the time the clock struck zero, WVU had rebounded from the Maryland loss with a resounding 66-0 victory in front of nice-sized, and very spirited crowd at home.
West Virginia, the team, the coaches, the fan base, all needed that easy-breezy day after a tough start the week before. We needed to be together, at full capacity once again. We needed the tailgating. We needed the pageantry of game day in Morgantown. We needed all the pepperoni rolls we could eat. We may have even needed a nip or two of clear, distilled, and untaxed spirits.
Sure the pepperoni rolls and clear jars may have been present in College Park, but those things taste a lot better when standing on Mountain State soil with 50 to 60-thousand of your fellow Mountaineers.
Saturday was a great day to be a Mountaineer. It was a doubly great day to be a Mountaineer from Mineral County and even more specifically Keyser. What a thrill it was to see our own Shawn See and Caden Biser, former KHS players, see playing time on the field both always dreamed of playing on.
What a difference a week makes. Now comes Virginia Tech in Morgantown in what may be the biggest game the Mountaineers have played in for years. As I was in College Park. As I was in Morgantown last week. I’ll be on hand in the press box, and on the field, and in the post-game press conference, to see what emotion week three will bring. We’ll know in a few hours, that’s for sure.