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Written by @JeremyTKFarley
I have been a West Virginia fan for roughly thirty years and during these three decades, I have seen more than my fair share of shellackings – in my very first bowl game, I watched the Mountaineers score a quick touchdown only to end the night with a 7-41 loss against the Florida Gators (1994 Sugar Bowl).
I sat in the nose-bleed section of Lane Stadium in Blacksburg cheering for the boys from Morgantown the day Marc Bulger threw five interceptions.
I felt great agony the frigid night in 2007 we fell to Pitt and missed our chance for that elusive National Championship.
Yet, I have never once been ashamed to be a Mountaineer. Win, lose or draw, I have worn my flying WV hat around the world with pride — a pride in the fact that the hat not only represented the land of my nativity, but also in an organization that accurately showcased the values of the single place I call home: an unmatched work ethic, grittiness, and above all else, honor.
Sadly, all of this changed after Saturday night, November 19, 2016… and it had absolutely nothing to do with the score.
In football, the unfortunate reality is that no matter how good you are, you can’t win them all. And though I would have loved to have seen us with the conference title this year, 8-2 is a far better place to be than I expected at the onset of the season.
This morning, my shame in being a Mountaineer is two-fold. Thousands of individuals who attended Saturday night’s game have dishonored our state (not all, but several thousand) and many of our players dishonored the WV symbol affixed to their helmets (again, not all, but many).
Our fan base should be ashamed over the fact that in only our second offensive drive of the game, they were already booing our quarterback for overthrowing his receivers twice in a row — nevermind the fact that this kid has given his everything to represent our home against his home state for the past few seasons. Nevermind the fact that Skyler Howard was throwing the ball in blizzard conditions. Nevermind the fact that his frozen fingers may have caused the ball to slip when it left his hands.
Nope, none of that matters. He messed up two plays in a row, so tens of thousands of “fans” felt justified in booing their own player — In my opinion, that’s disgusting and every single person who did this should do the rest of Mountaineer Nation a huge favor and never return to Mountaineer Field.
I’ve never met Howard, but if I ever had the opportunity to meet him, I’d feel obligated to apologize for how he has been treated by our fan base during his tenure in Morgantown.
For a kid who has done so much for us, West Virginia fans have done everything to suck the life out of this 22-year-old.
In an interview with ESPN last year, Howard described what it was like to play in Morgantown by using the following words, “We both get booed at our home stadium.”
Unfortunately, I’m not only ashamed to wear my hat this morning because of our fans, but also because of many of our players.
I get it, football is a tough and sometimes violent sport and there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to contact — but what I witnessed Saturday night was nothing short of a disgustingly dirty team getting their butt’s beat and instead of working to get back into the game, they were more concerned with taking cheap shots… Were it not for the color of their uniforms, I would have been cheering to the top of my lungs everytime the other team scored simply because of the way our players were acting.
This morning, the entire nation is talking about West Virginia University and what they’re saying should embarrass every child of the Mountain State:
Way to go WVU fans, booing your own team.. your fans suck so much!! #OUvsWVU BoomerSooner! ⭕️🙌🏻
— Randi Coffey (@CoffeyRandi) November 20, 2016
— Jimmy Burch (@Jimmy_Burch) November 20, 2016
Wow. Wvu has lost they mind.Wvu Player shoves an official them pokes him several times in the chest.Somehow not ejected after 30 yrd penalty
— Thee Bears (@theebears) November 20, 2016
WVU player, after 15 yrds for punching a guy’s helmet off, gets another 15 for poking a ref in the chest, and Holgerson leaves him in. SMH
— Bill U (@ltbillu) November 20, 2016
Gotta watch WVU! Playing frustrated and dirty right now.
— Angie M (@Okiefaith) November 20, 2016
WVU playing a bit dirty tonight oooor?
— mars (@twerk4marisa) November 20, 2016
These WVU kids are dirty.
— Braxdan (@BossBrax) November 20, 2016
Lmao WVU are some dirty mother fuckers.
— PostFratGent (@FratGent) November 20, 2016
In case Tony Gibson and Dana Holgorsen haven’t figured it out, I’m going to let them in on a little secret — the State of West Virginia needs its football and for good reason.
Mountaineer football brings us together as a state – the titles that divide us throughout the week, the Rs and Ds, “Right to work” and union supporter, have and have nots, the religious and non-religious, Mingo County and Martinsburg, all mean nothing on gameday and for a brief moment the entire state (outside of those folks in Huntington) come together to cheer for a common goal — and in 2016 America, that’s something special.
WVU football offers a conversation piece for fathers and sons who may stand in need of reconciliation.
Mountaineer football gives hope to one of the poorest and most afflicted states in the Union, but above all of this, West Virginia football offers us an opportunity to showcase our state to the entire world.
A single primetime game can do more to reach perspective industry than an entire international trip made by the governor, touting “We’re open for business.”
And Saturday night, we were given an opportunity to showcase the beauty of our state, the goodness of its citizens and the uniqueness of West Virginia… and we failed to seize the opportunity.
Instead of having Oklahoma fans return to the Midwest as ambassadors of how pleasant of a place West Virginia is and why the people are worthy of international investment, we instead have an endless Twitter feed touting how dirty West Virginia’s fans and players are… and based upon Saturday night’s performance, they’re right.
My message to Gibson and Holgorsen is simple — we love to win, but truly, winning isn’t everything. The kids you bring out of Florida and Ohio and Carolina take on a great responsibility when they strap on that helmet that says West Virginia. They instantly become ambassadors of our state, representing everyone’s coal mining grandfather, praying grandmother and little hometown which stood at the bottom of some random mountain alongside a muddy creek. They represent home.
And far more important than winning titles or beating Oklahoma, the people of this state want to be represented fairly, and last night, your boys failed miserably in doing this. They should be ashamed of themselves and I’m ashamed of them.
My message to our fans is also simple — unless you’ve played football in the FBS, you should probably just do everyone a favor and put your hand over your mouth the next time you feel like booing a kid doing his best to represent you.
I am a Mountaineer. I will remain a Mountaineer. But this morning, I am ashamed of this fact.
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