DALLAS — West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith offered a little advice for Big 12 fans making their first trip to Morgantown, W.Va.
“We've got some rabid fans in Morgantown,” Smith said. “I would suggest ... be friendly with them. If you get on their bad side, there's no telling what they'll do.”
Yes, West Virginia fans will fit in just fine with their new conference brethren.
Despite the wide geographic gap between West Virginia and all of the other Big 12 schools, the passion for college football is quite similar, said coach Dana Holgorsen, who spent time in the Big 12 as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
“West Virginia's used to winning football games,” Holgorsen said. “There's a whole bunch of teams in the Big 12 that are used to winning football games.”
West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin said the distance between his school and the others in the league isn't a big deal, and that he's eager to play against Big 12 competition.
“It's like our own little island, all the way over in West Virginia,” he said. “But we're looking forward to it. We're in the country, but now we're coming to play in the big lights.
“These are teams you watched when you were a little boy: Texas, Oklahoma, all those type of guys.”
But he was quick to note that he isn't intimidated by those traditional powers.
“But to me it's not intimidating. Even though we're in this conference now, we've played LSU, Auburn, Florida State. It's not like we haven't played top teams.”
YOUTH FOOTBALL DIFFERENT, HOLGORSEN SAYS
When asked to compare and contrast the Oklahoma-Texas area with West Virginia, Holgorsen noted the heightened importance of offseason football programs for youth and high school players in traditional Big 12 country.
“The state of Texas and the state of Oklahoma do a great job with their youth,” Holgorsen said. “They do a great job with summer activities. (In high school), there's spring football. There's plenty of opportunities to get better.
“From an East Coast standpoint, we don't do that on the East Coast. There's not as much spring football. There's not as much youth activities. And I think probably the differences are from a skill standpoint, they may not be as developed yet.”
REMEMBERING A COLD NEW JERSEY NIGHT
West Virginia offensive lineman Joe Madsen was asked to reveal the worst place he played in the Big East.
“Rutgers,” he said without hesitation. “It was so cold; I almost froze to death. We had no heaters on the sideline. There were mountains of snow; it was fun to play in, but awful at the same time.”
Madsen was then asked if he preferred the sometimes brutal heat that he might encounter in Texas.
“I am a big boy at heart,” the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Madsen said with a laugh. “I like the colder weather, but that was just too much.”
SMITH RIBS FOOTBALL IN TEXAS
Smith, from Miami, Fla., said he knows football in Texas is huge.
“I'm from Florida, and we have this rivalry with Texas,” Smith said.
“They get to play in all the big venues, and get all the love, but we have the better players obviously,” he added with a laugh.
MASCOT DOING HIS JOB
West Virginia's mascot, The Mountaineer, became the star of Big 12 Media Days on Monday, with his musket, coonskin cap and buckskin attire.
Graduate student Jonathan Kimble, who portrays The Mountaineer, received high praise from his quarterback Tuesday.
“He's the best,” Smith said. “I'm hearing he's doing some really good things out here. That's pleasing, because he's making our program look good.”
When told that the mascot is predicting West Virginia to win the Big 12, Smith added, “That's what I'm talking about; that's what we need him to do.”