Jim Manilla hopes the TCU shirt he'll wear to the next city council meeting will represent the last time he'll have to pay up on the friendly wager he initiated.
Manilla, the mayor of Morgantown, W.Va., issued a challenge to the mayors of Waco, Texas; Manhattan, Kan.; Fort Worth, Texas; Norman; and Lawrence, Kan. — all the Big 12 cities with universities whose football teams play 2012 games at West Virginia.
“I put a challenge out to all the mayors, that whoever lost the game would have to wear the team shirt at the next council meeting,” Manilla said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman.
“The reason I'm doing it is to reach out. This is the inaugural year for West Virginia to be in the Big 12, and I thought that would be a good gesture to do that. I'm not faring too well right now.”
Manilla won the first such bet when the Mountaineers beat Baylor in a 70-63 shootout on Sept. 29. But since then, West Virginia has lost back-to-back home games to Kansas State and TCU. He wore a purple K-State shirt at Morgantown's Oct. 30 City Council meeting. A few days later, on Nov. 3, West Virginia lost in overtime at home to TCU.
“I haven't got their shirt, but supposedly it's on the way,” Manilla said. “I need to wear it at the next council meeting.”
Manilla said the challenge has been issued to and accepted by Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal. Before the Mountaineers' first Big 12 home game, Manilla had several West Virginia shirts made locally by SustainU, a Morgantown company that makes clothing from 100-percent American recycled products.
“I thought I'd have to pass them all out, but it seems that things aren't turning out that way,” he said with a laugh, before adding he's sent the shirts to the winning city's mayor anyway.
Manilla, a lifelong Morgantown resident, said he loves seeing his city host visiting teams and fans, many of whom have never been there.
“We definitely want to make a really good first impression — and a lasting impression, not just a first impression,” he said.
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