For Christmas my wife gave me this book. It's a collection of stories, stats and memories from former WVU players, WVU coaches and local media. It recalls every season from 1891 to 2008. I just sat down to read it this afternoon and the very first page pretty much sums up the life of a WVU football fan.
I figured I'd share it with you:
They come. From Weirton to Welch, From Matewan to Martinsburg and all points in between, the come. Even from well beyond our borders -- Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and even as far away as Charlotte -- they come. They pack up their cars, their trucks and their recreational vehicles early on Saturday morning to begin a sentimental journey through some of the prettiest land God ever created. We West Virginians call it "Almost Heaven." The final destination, of course, is Morgantown.
At tailgates they reminisce with old friends; they make new friends; they share stories about their families, reciting the important dates and events in their lives that more often that no are tightly wrapped around one thing: Mountaineer football.
West Virginians love their Mountaineers. They plan weddings around games. They call radio shows and write letters passionately defending their team when they believe it has been wronged. The celebrations after wins are sometimes raucous, and the depression after losses is sometimes deep. They name their pets -- and in some cases even their children -- after their favorite players. Their computer passwords, locker combinations and ATM pin nmbers are usually some version of these digits: 9, 5, 10, 35 and 7 -- the jersey numbers of Major Harris, Pat White, Steve Slaton Owen Schmidt and Noel Devine.
It's a unique, lifelong love affair full of passion, pride and admiration. When Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium is full, it becomes the largest population center in the state. All of them dressed in gold. All of them familiar with the pregame rituals that take place before the big game when the Pride of West Virginia leads the team onto the field. And all of them filled with the hope that the Mountaineers can once again come out victorious. It is a tradition passed down through generations -- grandfathers to fathers to sons, grandmothers to mothers to daughters -- all of them sharing together the unique experience that is Mountaineer football.