Admit it, West Virginia, you have a problem.
We recall being warmly greeted by a WVU fan shortly after arriving in Morgantown for the Louisville-West Virginia football game in 2005, he and his party falling over themselves at the hotel to make us feel at home. Asking about our family, offering to carry our luggage, inviting us to join them for breakfast. Wow, I thought, these people sure are hospitable, extraordinarily so. Why this particular group was being so friendly would soon become evident.
The warm fuzzies would fade quickly after arriving at Milan Puskar Stadium, however. Passing through the crowd of Mountaineer rowdies was anything but a picnic, starting with getting intentionally bumped. “Hey, Kaintuck, you owe me an apology,” he slurred. “Not after that insult,” I replied. We were moving in opposite directions, no further discussion.
So many unrulies in one place, taunting U of L fans in every direction. We would lose track of the number of obscenities hurled our way. After the game, right on schedule, there were the sound of sirens, fire trucks being dispatched to quench what we presumed were burning couches.
One could only imagine how things would have gone had they lost a game that day. Reports this season that an LSU couple was assaulted after a game have since been disputed by the woman who was involved, but no one would have been surprised had a game-related incident occurred.
Paul Sykes, over at Cardinal Couple, reminds us in an e-mail that U of L cheerleaders had things tossed in their direction in 2009, forcing them to leave the game early for safety reasons. The cheerleaders and the dance team reportedly won’t be making the trip to Morgantown this Saturday. If this is true, it is a direct reflection not only on WVU fans but on local and state law enforcement.
By not taking effective action to discourage activities, the school’s administration is, in effect, condoning the primeval behavior, reinforcing a stereotype of West Virginians that is ugly at best. Until they begin to clamp down hard on fans, the conditions will only get worse. When a tragedy occurs, which is all but inevitable, the school will be compelled to fork over millions of dollars.
How such a hostile environment came to be is inconceivable for UofL fans and for other schools across the nation. It would never occur to Louisville fans to disrespect visitors to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The upcoming game has UofL fans as concerned, if not more, for the safety of the fans and players making the trek to Morgantown as much as the outcome of the game.
Something is amiss on those country roads. Take a good hard look in the mirror, West Virginia. Some of your fans are giving the state a black eye, and it’s not going away anytime soon.