Monday, November 7, 2011

How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the F-Bomb

 Rocker Joan Jett might not give a damn about her bad reputation but WVU does.

West Virginia’s fans are well known for their rowdy behavior and couch burning, but do we deserve our bad reputation?

If you read Internet message boards and didn’t know better you would be convinced that Morgantown is like Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War.

In this mythical Morgantown, fans from opposing teams are forced to run the gauntlet of the Blue Lot, risking verbal assault and drunken slurs as they fight their way to the visitor’s section inside Mountaineer Field.

Once seated these bastions of civility from far away places like Pittsburgh and Louisville find themselves surrounded by beer-swilling, musket waving, Mountaineer fans who stare them down with murderous eyes.

Their fear grows and every curse or insult hurled their way does nothing but convince them they will be lucky to get out of town alive.

We’re known for being the rowdiest, loudest, most fired-up bunch of fanatics in the Big East.  Our raucous nature gives the old Gold-n-Blue a true home field advantage and makes Mountaineer Field a place where others fear to play.

We earned that reputation way back when the Big East was a viable football conference and Pitt was still a relevant football program. We earned it when Penn State was on the schedule and Virginia Tech made our blood boil. Our shenanigans even caused  a “gangster” program like Miami to fear coming to Morgantown.

Warranted or not, our reputation for bad fan behavior harms WVU.

Over-the-top fan behavior was one of the arguments Louisville used  to convince the Big 12 they were a better choice than West Virginia and Frank Beamer cites fan behavior as the primary reason why Virginia Tech will not schedule WVU.

I’ve always tried to be part of the solution. I’ve done my best to be a good Mountaineer fan and went out of my way to be nice to the visiting team in victory or defeat.

I’ve urged others join me in being the “12th man” at Mountaineer Field, I’ve pleaded with my fellow Mountaineers to cheer on our lads in old gold-n-blue with vim and vigor all the while showing respect and civility to our visitors.

I’ve defended our honor on message boards and testified to all who would listen how we, as Mountaineer fans, have cleaned up our act.

And on Saturday afternoon, with less than a minute left on the game-clock, I failed.

I let loose the dreaded F-Bomb.

To be honest it was more like an F-Cruise missile aimed straight at the Cardinal mascot as he celebrated another Louisville touchdown.

I have no excuse. My frustration at the Mountaineers gift-wrapping at least 17 points to Louisville is no excuse. My frustration at seeing  two 12 yard punts, a missed FG, and a blocked FG attempt returned for a touchdown can’t excuse my cursing.

All I can do is ask for forgiveness. It happened so quickly. The Cardinals had scored a late touchdown to move their lead back up to 10 points with under 2-minutes remaining. The Cardinal mascot, in celebration of the score, ran into the endzone and seemed to somehow preen. He paused, looked straight at me, and as impossible as it sounds, there was an unmistakable smirk on his beak.

Before I knew what I was doing the F-Bomb rumbled up from somewhere deep inside me and with a volume born of primal hatred I loosed my hate-arrow straight for the Cardinal’s heart.

And just like a Tyler Bittencourt FG attempt it was wide-left. The Cardinal, seeing how my hate-arrow missed the target, smirked at me again and ran to safety behind the Louisville cheerleaders.

I just about to go after that red chicken with the smarmy smirk on his beak and pluck his cowardly feathers one-by-one, my wife pulled me down into my seat and let me have it with a world-class guilt bomb.

Her bomb hit its mark. I was ashamed, but not as much as my wife. She was mortified at my outburst and pointed out children were around us.

I know what I had done was wrong but I attempted to save face and tried a defense as weak as a Mountaineer punt.  “If that’s the first time those kids have heard that word they better grow-the-hell-up and stop being such babies.” I said.

The cold stare from my wife let me know I was quickly burning the couch I would have to sleep on that night.

She was right though -- I was perpetuating the stereotype I had tried so hard to dispel. Despite that damn smirk on that damn bird I had failed. Just like the Mountaineers I had handed the cardinal a victory. 

I’m sorry Mountaineer Nation. I let you down on Saturday. I promise to be better in the future.


 WVU’s special teams are beyond bad.

The Mountaineers continue to kills themselves with mistakes. Fumbles, dropped passes, and missed assignments can’t be blamed on inexperience any longer. I’m beginning to question the character and desire of a lot of the Mountaineer players. They play like they don’t want to win.

I keep telling myself this is a young team on both sides of the ball. The Mountaineers lack leaders on the field and play down to the level of their competition.

Leadership can’t be coached. It has to be authentic. Someone needs to step up, especially on defense, and become a leader.

The Mountaineer defense can’t find a way to stop short throws to the backs or contain the TE. The problem is the defensive line shortcomings and the need for the linebackers to commit to stopping the run.

The young linebacking corp doesn’t have the speed or experience to handle the backs or tight-ends on pass routes.

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