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.