Big 12 football: West Virginia trying to make good impression in first Big 12 action

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm •  Published: September 28, 2012

photo - A West Virginia football fan looks on in the crowd during a Sept. 22 game against Maryland in Morgantown, W.Va., With the Mountaineers joining the Big 12, WVU officials have asked fans to tone down their behavior and make Morgantown more hospitable for visitors. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)
A West Virginia football fan looks on in the crowd during a Sept. 22 game against Maryland in Morgantown, W.Va., With the Mountaineers joining the Big 12, WVU officials have asked fans to tone down their behavior and make Morgantown more hospitable for visitors. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)

“Almost Heaven,” John Denver famously wrote of West Virginia 40 years ago. Visiting football fans would not agree.

West Virginia was 16-5 in Big East home games its final six season years in that beleaguered conference. But that's not why opposing teams dreaded going to Morgantown.

WVU does not have a great reputation for football hospitality. Some in Morgantown think this is the time to change that.

The Mountaineers host Baylor on Saturday in the first Big 12 game in West Virginia history. And West Virginia officials would like to spare Baylor fans what fans from Pitt and Marshall and Maryland and Louisville have experienced for decades.

“I think the move to the Big 12 does give you a different opportunity as far as making a first impression,” Matt Wells, West Virginia's assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, told the Charleston Daily Mail.

West Virginians are known for throwing things, yelling insults and burning couches at football games. Which I guess is better than burning coaches.

But WVU athletic director Oliver Luck prefers nothing be set afire, except the Mountaineers' reputation for inhospitality. The Mail reported that Luck has “pushed to tone down unsavory fan antics for months.”

Chris Northrup, executive director of the student fan group Mountaineer Maniacs, said WVU fans were well-behaved during games earlier this month against Marshall and Maryland, and WVU police chief Bob Roberts said unruly fan incidents are down this season.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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