Commentary: Ideas Great for WVU's Game Day

I liked the new West Virginia entrance video. I also like the idea of the Mountaineer ManTrip and the new kickoff cheer, as well. There, I admitted it.

WVU, a program on the rise, is in need of new ideas that can separate it from its Big East Conference buddies and grow into a national power.

That's the reason recruiting coordinator Alex Hammond was hired. He brought along an idea called "swag" that fit with the views of new head coach Dana Holgorsen and Athletic Director Oliver Luck.

It's a new era, as the entrance video proclaims. And, it's time to bring the power back.

Holgorsen thought of an idea to honor the rich coal tradition of West Virginia called the ManTrip. It's basically a way fans can interact with players prior to kickoff that many other programs have done in the past. One of the most famous, I'd say, is Auburn's Tiger Walk (

WVU fans have been griping since the spring game autograph session ended a handful of years back that there just isn't enough interaction between players and fans. This should end that right?

It's the hope that fans will flock from their tailgates for a few minutes as players, coaches, cheerleaders and the marching band walk to the stadium.

There will also be a 350-pound block of coal at the end of this walk as a good luck charm similar to Clemson's "Howard's Rock."

Nobody outside of the Athletic Department is clear on how this ManTrip will go. I'm sure even most of them are scratching their heads, too. Everyone will likely have to experience it once before making a true judgment on it. The idea, though, is something that's needed.

Then, there's the kickoff cheer.

Mountaineer Maniacs Director Steve Staffileno and Mountaineer mascot Brock Burwell developed the idea of adding "W-V-U" to the end of the average kickoff chant.

Again, this is something programs from all across the country do. But, it's a great, creative idea that could truly make Milan Puskar Stadium sound one-of-a-kind for a few seconds.

There's a stubborn nature to the West Virginia fan base that doesn't sit well with some of the younger demographic.

Much of that younger group, like myself, Staffileno and Burwell, are living and thriving in an ever-changing technology age where it's all about copying and recreating.

The whole "We can't do that, because [insert team] does it" argument doesn't work anymore – if ever.

Pittsburgh ( has the best pre-game video entrance in the Big East. Why's that? Well, because they stole it from Nebraska ( Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson used to be the athletic director for the Cornhuskers before being kicked out. It's obvious he saw a great product and used it.

Athletic Departments from across the country travel and ask peer institutions for suggestions and help all the time.

When the Mountaineers were looking to sell beer in the football stadium, WVU went to Louisville and Connecticut specifically to seek information.

When WVU was developing schematics for the basketball practice facility, it went to other programs like Louisville and Kentucky among others for advice. The late Russ Sharp told me that WVU was taking the best of what they saw in those schools' practice facilities and developing them into the Mountaineers' new, soon-to-be-completed building.

So, why would cheers and traditions be any different?

Despite what many fans seem to believe, WVU doesn't have a lot of traditions. There's the singing of "Country Roads" – one of the best in sports – and the first-down chant. There may be a few more here and there, but nothing that WVU is known for across the country.

In five years, if WVU does things right, the Mountaineers will have a slew of new ideas that turn quickly into traditions and elevate the program above its peers.

And, if my argument doesn't change your mind, then the players' reasons for liking the new ideas should.

"I'm excited for it all. I think it's going to bring a lot of electricity and excitement to the crowd. That's something that we've been lacking for the last few years," said starting left guard Jeff Braun. "I remember getting recruited here during 2006-07, and coming to games here it was crazy. That's what brought me here. It was loud, packed, you couldn't move and you came out of the stadium and your ears were still buzzing.

"I think with things like that, I think we can finally get back to the way it used to be."

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