One could understand people staying home for this game if the weather was akin to the 2003 game vs. Temple or the 2005 game against Pitt. But this was an absolutely beautiful day in Morgantown. Heck, I wore shorts. You couldn't ask for a better day to watch a college football game. This weather would have been perfect a month ago. In December it is absolutely tropical.
Unfortunately, there were around 9,000 no-shows. Some of those were students --. I'd estimate that the student section was light by about 2,000 – but there were plenty of empty seats right in the heart of season ticket land too. That's inexcusable.
Geno Smith finishing out his career as the best QB to ever wear the gold and blue. Tavon Austin finishing out his career as the best player -- ever. Stedman Bailey perhaps finishing his career as the best receiver ever at WVU, unless you count him behind Tavon.
How could you possibly pass that up?
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Speaking of finishing careers, this was my first ever experience being down on the field snapping pictures for the Blue and Gold News on Senior Day. Don't expect to see too much, because I am still learning the trade, but it brought me a new perspective. I got to be right next to the players as they ran out -- mostly to strong ovations. Unfortunately, there were a couple of moments that soured it.
It is sickening to me to think that there are a number of fans who are classless enough to boo a kid as he's announced on Senior Day. Yet, when Tyler Bitancurt had his name announced you could clearly hear a host of boos among the applause. Here's a kid who hit the winning field goal at the gun against Pitt in 2009. He did the same against South Florida in 2011 to help send WVU to the Orange Bowl. But, alas he's missed some kicks and that makes him a horrible rube who should be embarrassed that he ever set foot on the field at WVU – or at least that is what it sounds like on the field as he's running out for his final game. Awful.
As if that weren't bad enough, when Pat Miller had his name announced, the boos were even louder. A returning senior on what was clearly the most poorly performing unit on this year's team, I can certainly understand why people would not be satisfied with Pat's play. But to boo the mention of his name? Really? I'm certain those people weren't booing him when he picked off the pass for the TD against USF last year, or when he broke up a late pass in the Texas game. Nor were they upset when he picked off a Tajh Boyd pass intended for All-American Sammy Watkins in the Orange Bowl last year in the midst of WVU's 35-point second quarter onslaught.
It is a complete and utter lack of class. No doubt about it.
That was countered by the emotion coming from the players in the post game after their final appearance at Mountaineer Field. To a man they all spoke about the tremendous WVU fans as a main reason they chose to come to school here. I wonder what the 50 or so recruits in attendance on Saturday thought about the players getting booed?
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All week long the discussion was being had about the possibility of the Backyard Brawl in the Pinstripe Bowl. "Brawl in the Bronx", if you will. "A Bronx Brawl" for you Robert DeNiro and Chaz Palminteri fans.
I felt all week that the game in New York could be a better destination than people gave it credit for being. Everyone has the New York City Ball Drop on New Year's on their bucket list, no matter how overrated it might be. Your wives would love going shopping in Manhattan and a trip to Ground Zero should be an event for any American.
And what is the big deal about it being cold? If you're any sort of West Virginia fan you've grown up accustomed to cold weather either while you were a student at WVU, as a resident of West Virginia, where the winters are far from southern, or as a fan attending late season games in Morgantown where it sometimes gets down right frigid. I've been to some Pitt games that were so cold that half the stadium brought their own blankets and the applause was muffled by 60,000 pairs of gloves.
That isn't to say that this bowl is what I would set as a goal for my team to start the season. Once will be enough, thank you. But the venom coming from Mountaineer fans over being selected for this game is mind boggling. The best one I heard was that the Big 12 screwed WVU and stuck them in the bowl in New York. Another said that WVU is actually in the Big 12's plan for that bowl every year going forward.
C'mon man! It is about time some people got over their inferiority complexes. You finish 7-5 overall and 4-5 in conference, you don't exactly get the pick of the litter. Look at it another way. WVU finished in a four-way tie for fifth place in the conference. The Mountaineers were the number seven bowl selection. The seventh pick from the Big 12 gets to play 2012 Big East Co-Champion Syracuse.
West Virginia didn't earn better. Plain and simple. But if you can't see the benefit of being in the Big 12 here, you're hopeless. Every bowl the Big 12 has is better than anything the Big East has, except this bowl since the Big 12 actually plays in it with the Big East. But the Big East sends its #4 pick to this gem. The Big 12 sends its seventh.
Personally, I would have liked to have been selected for the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Iowa State was the ninth pick out of the Big 12 and the league only has eight bowl commitments. The Cyclones are playing C-USA Champion Tulsa on New Year's Eve in a great town. But, alas, WVU screwed up in reverse and beat Iowa State.
In the end, it is time for people to get over whatever ills they feel have befallen them during this football season. You have but one opportunity to see the most talented and most productive offense in West Virginia history take the field. That is in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium on December 29th. A Saturday afternoon, at that.
This is the last time you get a chance to see Geno Smith throw a pass to Tavon Austin. The last time you get to see Geno Smith throw a pass to his high school bud Stedman Bailey. That's gotta be worth something.