Wild and wonderful
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 07:10
Each license plate attached to a West Virginia vehicle and every welcome sign inviting visitors to this state is emblazoned with a simple yet imaginative pair of words: Wild and Wonderful.
This slogan is meant to describe the scenery, adventure and possibility offered by the state in the form of its natural and cultural amenities. We have beautiful waterfalls, majestic rivers, and plenty of nice rocks to climb. We also have buckwheat cakes and moonshine.
Saturday, however, something as wild and wonderful – if not more so – as the mountains of West Virginia happened on the field of Milan Puskar Stadium: 70 points. 656 passing yards. 8 passing touchdowns (2 more than total incompletions). 807 yards of total offense.
Yes, in their first ever Big XII football game against the Baylor Bears, Geno Smith and the West Virginia Mountaineer football team put on a show of record-breaking proportions.
It wasn’t an offensive spectacle only noticed by WVU students, Morgantown residents, or West Virginia citizens, though. Geno and the Mountaineers went national.
While the game was broadcast on cable television, major commentators and critics of college football and sports in general took notice of what’s happening here.
Lebron James tweeted multiple times about the WVU game, once writing "45-51, 656 yards and 8TD’s #GenoSmith #VideoGameStats."
Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN’s College GameDay tweeted, "About the only thing that may stop Geno Smith today is that stationary bike he’s riding between offensive series…#Explosive."
When WVU made the move to the Big XII, it did so for most of the same reasons as anyone trying to move up the ladder: more money and more exposure.
It also knew that a move to the Big XII would bring more of a spotlight to the University, as the Big XII is a more impressive and noticed conference than the Big East. Thus, the Big XII relocation would hopefully bring more funding and more students to Morgantown.
Saturday, against an up-and-coming Big XII powerhouse in Baylor, West Virginia University showed the state of Texas and the national stage who we are and what we are about. I contend that this is not just a football victory, but a university win.
Let’s face it: we are a university that needs positive attention right now. We’re not in a terrible place, but couch-burning fiascoes have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many outsiders who think poorly of Morgantown and have even prompted a SGA video, which currently has more dislikes than likes on YouTube.
And while quite a few students wear their "#1 Party School" t-shirt with pride, this ranking is obviously not a positive reflection on WVU or the city of Morgantown.
They are few, but there are those at WVU and around Morgantown who don’t care about football. There are even those who roll their eyes about the amount of attention football gets in the discourse of the University and scoff at how many tricked out RVs fill the parking lots of local businesses on game weekends.
But even if you don’t like football, if you’re a member of this institution or community, you have to respect what was done on the field on Saturday. Not just the stats, but also the resulting spotlight on our University.
A new region of the country and a wider audience than ever before now has their eyes on both Morgantown and West Virginia University.
It might be the football team that caused their gaze to wander up into the Appalachia, but let’s make sure there are other things that keep the wonder and admiration here. Let’s make sure we capitalize on the opportunity and make the most of it.
While I watched Saturday’s game from my apartment just off Don Nehlen Drive, I heard so many gunshots from the stadium that it sounded reminiscent of a shootout at the O.K. Corral.
I even heard an FX commentator say, "I’ve never seen so many coonskin caps in my life."
West Virginia as a state and its University are indeed both wild and wonderful.
In the spotlight of the country, let’s make sure the wild and wonderful behavior and passion we exhibit as WVU is positive and constructive – coonskin caps and all.