Conversations From The Car

I am not going to take the time to discuss where this week's conversations actually occurred, because I am fuming and I am ready to get a lot of things off my chest.

First, I have to address the conversation on the message boards. The sky is not falling. We lost to a very good team last Saturday, and the fact that the game would have come down to the wire if it were not for a few untimely turnovers only proves that we a a pretty good team as well.

It always shocks me when I follow the Mountaineers on the road how media members and fans who follow the opposing team never seem to give WVU credit. The talk after the game is always how bad their team is or all the things their team did wrong.

Even during the Big East Tournament, the big wigs such as Bob Ryan and Mike Lupica began the tournament talking about how bad Boston College collapsed and asked how they could let a bunch of rag-tags like WVU end their tournament run.

Their tone changed when addressing Coach Beilein and even in some of their articles, but the conversation in the media room rarely gave the Mountaineers any credit.

I saw this same phenomenon at Byrd Stadium when West Virginia knocked off the Terps and it was certainly no different when WVU routed the Hokies in 2003.

Does any of this sound familiar? If you read any of the posts on the message boards this week, you could have gone away thinking that the Mountaineers just lost to West Virginia State and that the football program should be eliminated. I have news for you people. The team on the other side of the field is trying to win the game too, and they have put just as much effort and planning into trying to do just that as the Mountaineers have in their practices.

In reality we lost to a Virginia Tech team which is No. 3 in the country and for once probably deserves that ranking. I don't see how anyone who actually watched that game could claim that the Hokie defense is not as good as any you will find, and as much as it hurts, it is impossible not to admit that Marcus Vick is a very good quarterback.

He may not be a good person, but Vick beat the Mountaineers with his arm, his feet and his decision making. I am just glad I wasn't the defensive coordinator, because I would have had to hand my clipboard to one of the fans and asked them to do better. Believe me ladies and gentlemen, the Virginia Tech offense is very hard to stop.

I am not trying to make the claim that the Mountaineers played a perfect game. I admit it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the men in gold and blue would have been able to hold onto the football. But don't doom the program. If Virginia Tech is No. 3, then WVU is certainly a top 25 team this year.

Keeping that in mind, I hope we see the same enthusiasm in the home crowds the rest of the season that we saw when the Hokies come in. If you are a Mountaineer fan, you come to the game to see the guys with the flying WVs on their helmets, not the guys on the other side of the field.

Whether we are 10-0 or 0-10 and whether it is Wofford or Notre Dame on the visiting sideline, Mountaineer Field should be packed to the brim and the roar should be heard all the way to Huntington.

If that sounds unrealistic, check South Carolina's attendance figures for their winless season a few years ago.

Another job I am putting on the fans is to continue the tradition that they started last week in greeting the team when they get off the buses at the Puskar Center. It was obvious by the smiles on the faces of the Mountaineers that the team really appreciated the greeting, and there is no reason that greeting should be reserved for the games where the big dogs of college football come to town.

I would love to see this tradition grow, and I am dreaming of the day when the team can be dropped off up the hill from the silver lot at the practice field, and a tunnel of Mountaineer fans will line the path from the practice field to the Puskar Center. It would not take much of an effort to make this dream a reality.

I cannot move on any further without commenting on the statements made last week by Mark May. I am not as easily offended as many Mountaineer fans, but these comments were completely out of line. Here is the letter I wrote to ESPN and to ABC, the parent company of ESPN, about the statements.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing in regards to the comments Mark May made during Thursday night's football broadcast on ESPN. I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward this message to the appropriate person.

As a proud West Virginia native, I was offended and shocked by the comments that Mr. May made when he stated that, "they throw pennies at West Virginia because they are too poor to throw nickels."

What irritates me most about the comments is the fact that it has gone virtually unnoticed simply because the group he offended was West Virginia natives.

I want to ask one simple question. What would have been the reaction if Mr. May had directed his comments toward a particular race or a certain gender? I am confident in my belief that it would have caused a much larger stir, and Mr. May likely would have been out of a job.

The real question, though, is how is this any different? Mr. May's comments were stereotypical and insensitive to a group of people that I consider to be some of the best in the world. West Virginia has worked hard at fighting the negative stereotypes associated with the beautiful state, but if prominent figures are allowed to make comments with no retribution, those unrealistic perceptions will never change.

I have always been a big fan of both ABC and ESPN's coverage of college football, but taking shots at an entire state does nothing to help inform fans about any aspect of the game and actually only furthers an unwarranted stereotype. There is no place for a bigot who makes those types of statements on national television.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Apparently, though, I should have left that last line out. I have heard nothing back from either organization, so I am guessing their time must be too valuable.

I will conclude this week's rambling with a conversation I had with a friend that said he was sad to see the series with Virginia Tech come to an end.

I, for one, am glad I never have to see the Hokies again. With the series down the tubes, here are some of the things we will never have to see again.

— Never again will we have to see a man with six teeth, a mullet and a mouth full of tobacco wearing burnt orange and Chicago maroon making some joke about incest in the Mountain State.

— Never again will we have to see that goofy bird dressed up in some ridiculous costume or here the public address announcer at Lane Stadium ask, "Where are you Hokie Bird?" or demand, "Come down from there Hokie Bird."

— Never again will we have to see thousands of fans rise to their feet at the call of a turkey.

— Never again will we have to listen to fans that wear the number of a convicted criminal on their backs criticize our program and our fans.

— Never again will we have to see a group of grown adults turn themselves around or shake it all about.

So long Hokies!

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