As a West Virginia University alum, one of the great highlights of the season is Pittsburgh. We have a nice little rivalry with the Panthers, known to many as the “Backyard Brawl.” It’s a classic rivalry – rural v. urban, state v. state, along with other descriptions. A win against the Panthers is a feather in the cap, regardless of the Mountaineers’ win/loss record.
Last night, the Mountaineers did just that. They beat the Panthers. But, there is no joy in Morgantown tonight or among Mountaineer fans and alumni. That is because of the classless behavior exhibited by fans and students at the game.
For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to say that I am a Mountaineer. The actions and behavior of the fans and students – from throwing garbage on the court to hitting a Pittsburgh coach with a coin – is unacceptable. To defend such behavior is to defend that which cannot be defended.
Mitch Vingle, in the Charleston Gazette, described what took place last night as the good (the debut of Deinz Kilici) the bad (throwing items the first time) and the ugly (the coin hitting the coach). Ron Cook, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote of the “handful of idiots” inside a sold-out Coliseum. The lead of The Associated Press article did not mention the win, but mentioned how the students and fans at the game overshadowed the win. On Sportscenter, the discussion was about “unruly Mountaineers” and how “Huggins blasts fans.”
The student section has always been an interesting place to watch a game, but I do not remember it being this bad when I attended. Sure, we got rowdy and said things we probably shouldn’t have, never did it get to this point, save for one game my freshmen year where someone threw something on the football field. That action led to a new ticket policy.
Yet, the actions of the students and fans are out of control. What makes one believe that acting in such a way, in a public venue, equals support for the team and respect for the game?
Some will argue that this is not all fans, and I will agree with that. West Virginia has some of the greatest fans in America, hard to believe right now, I admit. However, the actions of those who are not really true Mountaineers (there really is no other way to describe them) must be addressed.
President Clements and the WVU administration should consider severe actions. Simply writing an email to ask the students to tone down their behavior is no longer going to work. I honestly advocate taking away seats or banning the students for a game.
The behavior will continue until something is done. Hopefully, when the Mountaineers host Villanova in one of the biggest games of the year next week the fans will show more class.
One can hope.