While this may sound like a normal Friday night in Morgantown, in fact it is anything but. You see, the venue which is hosting these everyday college activities isn't just another house on Grant Street. On Friday night, approximately 100 Mountaineer students camped out inside the Gold Gate at the Coliseum hoping to have their pick of student seating when the doors to the arena finally open on Saturday morning. Every college student past and present has pulled an all-nighter at some point in their collegiate careers, but normally it's due to procrastination. These all-nighter's are earlier than a country rooster. They're the anti-procrastinates (at least when it comes to this).
Outside the entrance, several bicycle gates are set up and roped with yellow caution tape in order to direct traffic once the bulk of the student crowd (or seemingly the bulk of the student body) arrives at the Coliseum. Even outside, there is a small line forming of less than a dozen people hoping to get into the foyer area and out of the cold. If they're unsuccessful, it's no big deal. They'll just sleep in their cars.
Inside the foyer, the atmosphere is comparable to that of a gala. The only difference is that most of the people in here are dressed in sweatpants and gold t-shirts, not tuxedos and extravagent gowns. The mood is cheerful, for the most part. Supporters and members of one of the student government campaign slates are handing out hot chocolate left and right.
Freshman Caleb Faulkner arrived at 11:30 Friday night in order to get in line. "I wanted to get good seats for the game because it's a once in a lifetime type of game," said Faulkner, who hails from South Charleston. When asked if he planned on getting any sleep between now and the morning, Faulkner said that he'd just have to see how things went. If others went to sleep, perhaps he'd follow suit. If not, there's always the rest of the weekend to get some shut-eye.
"As long as they keep bringing me this stuff, I'm going to be just fine," he says with a grin while holding up his near-empty styrofoam cup.
Down on the other end of the foyer, senior Nathan Murphy is wrapped up in a hotly contested game of "CatchPhrase" with a group of his friends. At this rate, Murphy's just happy to have others sharing in his fun at the Gold Gate. That's what happens when you show up some 31 hours before tipoff just to get a good seat. That's right. 31 HOURS. Half of Saturday's crowd won't show up until about 31 MINUTES before tip. Heck, if the game was in Los Angeles, a majority of the crowd wouldn't arrive until a good half-hour of the game had passed. Murphy will have none of that, though, as he's anxiously awaiting Saturday's events.
"I just wanted to be the first one in line, and I figured that nobody else would be here (at 6 A.M. on Friday morning)," said Murphy. To say he accomplished that goal would be an understatement. With no classes on his schedule for Friday, Murphy figured that he might as well get his game face on for Saturday.
The Clendenin native has done this before, specifically prior to last February's showdown with the Connecticut Huskies, a game which the Mountaineers would go on to lose by a final of 81-75. Those results are in the past, and Murphy isn't worried about any bad karma coming back to haunt him nearly a year after his first Coliseum camp out.
"I don't know if we can win, but I know we can keep it close and have a chance," he said.
Head coach John Beilein noted in his Friday afternoon press conference that he was impressed by the students who were already waiting at the door for Saturday's game.
"It's absolutely terrific," he said. "I have a sneaking suspicion that they'll see me in the morning. It's great that we have kids spending the night, and I'm glad that we can bring this type of event to the University."
Murphy says that prior to the UConn game last year, Beilein showed up and handed out several pizzas to the die-hards who were anxiously awaiting the game. While it's probably a safe bet that he'll be delivering some type of nourishment to the students in the morning, what they'd really like him to deliver is a win over the Bruins. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
Win or lose, all of those who waited out the night at the Coliseum have made a memory that will last for quite some time.