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Morgantown, W.Va., well represented by Jonathan Kimble and Jim Manilla

by Jason Kersey Published: November 17, 2012

Mountaineer mascot Jonathan Kimble gave The Oklahoman's OU coverage team a tour of Morgantown, W.Va., on Friday. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN
Mountaineer mascot Jonathan Kimble gave The Oklahoman's OU coverage team a tour of Morgantown, W.Va., on Friday. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jonathan Kimble joked while showing our OU coverage team around town that he sometimes feels like a politician; he’s always shaking hands and taking pictures.

Here’s the truth, though: It’s hard for me to imagine a better representative and ambassador for the state and university than Kimble, the current West Virginia Mountaineer mascot.

Kimble and Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel hit it off back in July, at Dallas’ Big 12 Media Days, and chatted again last weekend when West Virginia visited Oklahoma State.

Kimble promised Berry a tour of Morgantown, and Friday, he delivered, driving him, my beat partner Stephanie Kuzydym, videographer Damon Fontenot and myself around town. He met up with us after reading to a group of local elementary school students.

I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone friendlier; he spotted a group of Sooner fans setting up their tailgate near the WVU Coliseum and walked right over to them.

He happily greeted them — “Welcome to Morgantown!” — before posing for pictures and complimenting their setup.

I wrote for Saturday’s newspaper about Oklahoma’s trip to Morgantown, which is far removed from any other Big 12 city. The town has developed a reputation for violent, celebratory riots after football wins, and that’s really too bad.

The scenery here is beautiful — the Allegheny Mountains, the Monongahela River, the trees — and the folks we’ve come into contact with have been nothing but nice.

While preparing for the trip earlier this week, I wanted to visit with a Morgantown native who could really describe for me what the city’s first Big 12 year has been like.

On a whim, I looked up the Morgantown mayor and found out that he’s a lifelong resident named Jim Manilla.

I dialed the contact number listed on the city’s website; the mayor picked up after two rings and couldn’t have been nicer. He told me about his friendly wagers with fellow Big 12 mayors.

Morgantown has a clear recent history defiled by unruly postgame activities; I’ve obviously never seen the bad stuff in person, but I’ve enjoyed my time in this part of the country and found Morgantown to be quite charming.

Chalk that up to public representatives like Jonathan Kimble and Jim Manilla.


Kimble ended our tour Friday by firing off his rifle … right in the middle of Morgantown. You can watch it at the end of the below video.

Side note: Did you know that the Mountaineer mascot is written into West Virginia’s state law?

Chapter 61, Article 7, Section 11a of the West Virginia Code prohibits firearms on the premises of educational facilities — with a few exceptions.

One of which is the Mountaineer.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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