Thursday, March 23, 2023

My Interview With Rich Rodriguez

A message from the Interviewer: Back in 2019, when I was a writer for Mountaineer Sports, I reached out to Rich Rodriguez for an interview to ask him the questions that no one else ever had. For me, the football seasons with Rich Rodriguez as coach were some of my finest memories as a West Virginia fan. Rich Rodriguez always represented passion and enthusiasm for the game, innovation and and a level of success at West Virginia that I didn’t think possible before.  When Coach Rodriguez left for Michigan in 2007, I was disappointed like every other true fan.  I hated to see him go, but I didn’t have the deep, visceral hate that some fans felt towards him and his departure from WVU.  I didn’t view it as a betrayal but rather as a business decision by someone that desperately wanted to reach his full potential in his profession. I followed him closely at Michigan.  I wanted him to be successful and win the national championship that I felt he deserved.  I have an unremitting belief in his brand of football.  When it didn’t go as planned at Michigan, I watched his Arizona teams closely.  I followed his time as an offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and saw him succeed during his return to head coaching at Jacksonville State this past season. Perhaps as a boy growing up in West Virginia, he represented something to me that not many other West Virginia-born citizens did.  He worked hard and became an enormous success doing what he loves to do.  He is a self-made, West Virginia born and bred success story.  West Virginia does not have an overwhelming number of examples of this. Bob Huggins, Nick Saban, Mary Lou Retton, Chuck Yeager, Jerry West are a few, but the list isn’t lengthy.  Rich Rodriguez exemplified what I wanted growing up.  I didn’t necessarily want to be a football coach, but I wanted to be great at a job that I loved.  I wanted to have the same passion and enthusiasm and dedication that Rich Rodriguez showed on the field and in the locker room.  I will always look up to him for that reason. When I learned that I would be interviewing Coach Rodriguez, I knew that I could take a couple of different approaches to it.  This interview was different than with previous interviewees that are universally adored like Jevon Carter, Eugene Napoleon, Damian Owens, etc.  I could bombard him with rumor-laced questions and accusations, immediately putting him on the defensive and abruptly ending the interview before it got started.  Or I could ask the questions that I truly care about and have always wondered.  I chose the latter. My goal in this interview is for all West Virginians to see Rich Rodriguez as I see him.  Admittedly and openly, I want to change a collective negative perception of someone I look up to and also did so much for West Virginia University.  I understand the difficult climb that I will face in changing your minds in any way.  I can already feel the oncoming eye rolls as I tell Coach Rodriguez how “loved and missed he is back home.” If nothing else, I got to talk to one of my heroes and express my appreciation for what he’s done for me and the university that I love so much. Rich Rodriguez is a West Virginia hero. The story of Rich Rodriguez is that of a small-town West Virginia boy who made it big doing what he loves to do.  The most successful Head Coach in West Virginia football history, he took the Mountaineer football program to heights not thought possible.  Clearly this opinion is not shared by all West Virginians.  Rich Rodriguez is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the university.  Some people in the state still believe that he is a traitor, that he turned his back on the state and all of us fans.  This is simply not true. For anyone to hold a grudge for the way that he left the program is unfair.  Dealing with an uncooperative administration in Morgantown, fighting for improvements to the program and being denied every step of the way, Rodriguez was also pursued by several other programs at the same time. Michigan offered him everything that he wanted at WVU and more.  This was not about money, this was about winning championships.  Michigan gave him a fresh start and a better chance to compete for championships long-term, at one of the most storied, successful programs in history, without the headaches of dealing with an administration that didn’t have the same vision for success that he had.  Who among us wouldn’t have made the very same decision? Rich Rodriguez loves West Virginia and its people.  The pain in his voice when he discusses the 13-9 loss in 2007 against Pitt tells it all.  He’s still tortured by that game to this day.  If you are one of the few people that still believe that he somehow overlooked the biggest game of his life because he was focused on leaving WVU for another job, you will know how ridiculous that is when you hear the emotions he still feels about that loss. This interview isn’t about the ugly ending of the beautiful story of Rich Rodriguez, this is a celebration of one of our own and his dazzling, magnificent time at West Virginia University.  Rich Rodriguez brought us some of the best memories in West Virginia sports history. His final three seasons at WVU:  11-1 and a Sugar Bowl win against Georgia, 11-2 and a Gator Bowl win against Georgia Tech and, finally, a 10-2 record, one game away from the National Championship.  Pat White. Steve Slaton.  Owen Schmitt.  The pregame speeches.  The revolutionary, trailblazing Zone Read Spread offense. The unprecedented success.  Thank you for all of the wonderful memories, Coach Rod. Without further ado, here's my interview with Rich Rodriguez from 2019:

ESPN Says Neal Brown Likely Gets Another Year

Cover Photo: Ben Queen/USA Today  Morgantown, West Virginia - Although it’s a foregone conclusion in the eyes of most West Virginia fans that Neal Brown, who is 21-25 overall during his career as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, will be fired, ESPN said, “Not so fast” this morning. According to The Worldwide Leader in Sports, Brown is likely to return for the 2023 season. “Athletic director Shane Lyons is out, and coach Neal Brown's status has been shaky for a while. But WVU will not make any decisions until the end of the season, and several industry sources are saying Brown likely will receive another year under a new AD in 2023. Brown's hefty buyout is clearly a factor, and while West Virginia will run an accelerated AD search, the timing to complete both changes by early December would be difficult.” This is certainly very disappointing news for anyone hoping that the West Virginia football program will be turned around quickly. Brown has failed miserably and given the the fanbase absolutely no reason to have hope for the future. Let’s hope that this is merely another false report by ESPN and that the horrendous tenure of Neal Brown is almost over.

ESPN Says Neal Brown is on Thin Ice This Morning

Morgantown, West Virginia - As the West Virginia Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5) prepare to take on the #15 ranked Kansas State Wildcats (7-3, 5-2), ESPN's College Gameday briefly discussed the game on the show this morning. "The Mountaineers, Pete Thamel reported this morning that they will start Garrett Greene at quarterback, who gave them a real jolt in that win against Oklahoma last week," Rece Davis said. "You know that Neal Brown is on thin ice there at West Virginia so perhaps they can get another win." Pat McAfee added, "The interesting thing here is that it's tough to win a game in Morgantown. No matter what the situation is. The athletic director was fired earlier in the week, there's a fresh energy there. Garrett Greene is a dog, this dude can run and do it all for West Virginia today." Check out the entire clip below provided by our friend Patrick Mason:

Pat White Submits His Pick for WVU’s Next Athletic Director

Pat White, a legend in his own right in Morgantown, is very vocal when it comes to WVU Athletics. With the firing of athletic director Shane Lyons, White hasn’t been shy to chime in with his opinion on the matter. Earlier today, White even shared his choice of replacement for Lyons in the Athletic Director role. Matt Borman - President of LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation For those of you who haven’t heard of Borman before, he brings with him a tremendous background. Not to mention he also has strong connections to WVU. For starters, Borman is a West Virginia University graduate. He received his masters degree in sports management in Morgantown. Borman also spent time as the executive director of the Mountaineer Athletic Club. Leading fundraisers, he was able to help garner record-setting donations for West Virginia University Athletics. White has certainly done his research on this candidate. It’s hard to argue this, as well. Borman certainly deserves a look from the Mountaineers.

Outlet Names Potential Replacements for Neal Brown and Shane Lyons

Morgantown, West Virginia - With Shane Lyons out as the director of athletics at West Virginia, it is only a matter of time before West Virginia Head Coach Neal Brown follows suit. Sitting at 21-24, it is expected that Brown will be relieved of his duties following the 2022 season, regardless of the outcome of the team's final two games. The Athletic, a very well known outlet nationwide, has listed potential replacements for both Lyons and Brown respectively. Here is their list of replacements: Shane Lyons  Pat Chun - Washington State AD  Troy Dannen - Tulane AD Eddie Nunez - New Mexico AD Matt Borman - LSU Athletic Foundation President It should be noted that none of these candidates have any real ties to the state of West Virginia and have not been mentioned by any other outlets. Neal Brown Jason Candle (52-30 at Toledo) Sean Lewis (23-30 at Kent State) Jeff Monken (61-49 at Army)  Scott Satterfield (24-23 at Louisville)  Rich Rodriguez (7-2 at Jacksonville State) Candle, Lewis and Monken are highly-regarded coaches, but West Virginia will likely pursue a more proven head coach at the Power 5 level, particularly after the past four seasons under Brown. Rodriguez is almost certainly too divisive among the West Virginia fanbase to be hired and Satterfield's 24-23 record at Louisville is less than impressive. Overall, these five potential candidates don't appear to be outstanding replacements for Brown at West Virginia. If the university wants to fix the current situation within the football program, they will need a proven leader who has a history of turning around programs and being successful at the highest level of competition.

WVU Could Owe Shane Lyons A Lot of Money

(Photo by WVU Athletics)   West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons was forced to resign yesterday, according to a story first broke by Hoppy Kerchival of MetroNews. Lyons, who has been WVU’s athletic director since 2015, was let go mostly due to his extension of Neal Brown that will ultimately cost the university nearly $20 million. Now, the university could also owe Lyons a large amount of cash. With his firing unlikely being due to something unlawful, the university will owe Lyons his remaining contract, totaling roughly $3.724 million, according to a report by WVNews. Lyons was contracted through 2026, with a salary of $895,000 in 2023 and $931,000 for the remaining years. WVU is expected to “act quickly” hiring a replacement for Lyons.    

Why I Believe Shane Lyons’ Days Are Numbered at West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia - Make no mistake about it, the contract extension and raise that Shane Lyons, the director of athletics at West Virginia, gave to head coach Neal Brown following the 2020 season will haunt him forever. At the time, Brown was 11-11 and was coming off a victory over Army in the Liberty Bowl. Very average, mediocre results that were certainly not worthy of a raise or extension. However, at the time, there were whispers on social media that Brown was being mentioned as a potential head coach at Auburn, South Carolina and a few others. These "rumors" were ridiculous, of course. No SEC school was going to hire Neal Brown, who had a .500 record after 2 seasons at West Virginia University. Lyons took the rumors and whispers seriously. He felt that he had to lock Neal Brown down and that's exactly what he did. He gave Brown a massive contract buyout, an extension and a raise. Now, West Virginia is either stuck with an under-performing Neal Brown, or they will have to pay him at least part of the buyout to fire him. Lyons has put the university into a tremendously difficult situation and people have finally started to take notice. The Board of Governors at West Virginia University meets tomorrow morning and Shane Lyons will finally be held accountable. Lyons will be forced to explain his erroneous decisions surrounding Neal Brown and the football program, and there's a very good chance that he will lose his job over what's happened over the past couple of years. Losing millions and millions of dollars - which West Virginia University will inevitably do regardless of what happens - is unacceptable in any position and although Lyons is generally liked by university president Gordon Gee and the Board of Governors at the university, there doesn't seem to be any going back from this mess that he's created.

Why West Virginia Absolutely Can Afford to Fire Neal Brown Right Now

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who had a 67-26 record in eight seasons at the school, was fired over the weekend and was owed approximately $21 million on his contract buyout. Yesterday, Wisconsin and Chryst agreed to a reduced buyout amount of $11 million, which is approximately 55% of the remaining amount that Chryst was owed. This is a typical arrangement between head coaches and universities, and it's very rare that an entire contract buyout is paid out. In addition, if Chryst was willing to accept a lowered amount after a very successful run as the head coach at Wisconsin, it's likely that coaches who have not been as successful would feel compelled to agree to a greatly reduced buyout. Neal Brown Has Failed Miserably This brings us to West Virginia head coach Neal Brown. Brown, who is currently owed approximately $20.0 million after director of athletics ludicrously extended his contract and gave him a raise after an 11-11 start, has failed miserably as the head coach of of the Mountaineers. A 19-21 overall record and an 11-17 record in the Big 12 is failure any way you look at it. Neal Brown must worry about his reputation for future employment Brown has to worry about his reputation moving forward, and ruthlessly demanding his full contract buyout after failing is not a good look for any head coach. And thus, a negotiated buyout would likely be in the $7.5-10 million range after it was all said and done. Buyout can be paid over multiple years This total is even more possible for West Virginia University and its donors because the amount can be paid over several years. So while $10 million is a lot of money, it's not so bad $1 or $2 million at a time. In addition to that, the negotiated contract buyout would be offset by any salary that he makes from his new employer. Although Brown struggled at West Virginia, an FCS program would certainly give him an opportunity to do attempt to do what he did at Troy. There are no more excuses not to fire Brown West Virginia can afford to fire him. He was given 3 and 1/2 years to prove himself and he has shown that this isn't the right situation for him. It's time to cut ties before losing the entire fanbase. Loss of revenue from lack of season ticket sales and apparel would be far more devastating for the university than the relatively small amount owed to Brown.

West Virginia Football Report Card (Through 4 Games)

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers are now 2-2 entering the beef of their Big 12 Conference schedule and we still really don't know what this team is made of yet. While losses against Pitt and Kansas were disappointing, the Mountaineers showed real promise by beating Virginia Tech on the road. Here is West Virginia's report card grades for each individual position for the Mountaineers through the first four games of the season: Offensive Line: West Virginia's offensive line had its best game of the year by a mile against Virginia Tech. However, the first three games were below average performances for the talented, veteran line. With that said, it looks like they are starting to gel and could finally live up to their promise soon. Grade: C Quarterbacks: JT Daniels has been sensational in his first four games with the Mountaineers. His experience and cool in the pocket is the exact opposite of what we've seen over the past two and a half seasons with Jarret Doege. I believe he's one of the top pure passers ever at West Virginia and is the reason that West Virginia stayed close in tough losses against Pitt and Kansas. His only real blunder this season was a poorly thrown ball in overtime against Kansas, which ultimately led to the Mountaineers losing the game. Grade: B+ Running Backs: CJ Donaldson has rushed 52 times for 380 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first four games of playing the position ever. Donaldson could potentially be one of the best running backs in the Big 12 Conference right now and Tony Mathis, Jr. (58 rushes, 272 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Justin Johnson, Jr. (30 carries, 145 yards, 1 touchdown) are outstanding changes of pace for him. Grade: A Wide Receivers: This could be West Virginia's most talented position with Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Kaden Prather and Sam James, but there have far too many drops, particularly in the first two games of the season. Wheaton and Prather are physically dominant and capable of being the top wide receiver tandem in the conference, but have lacked consistency so far. Grade: B-  Tight Ends: Junior Mike O'Laughlin has 5 receptions for 66 yards, but the rest of the tight end room has underwhelmed from an offensive production standpoint. In addition, O'Laughlin dropped an easy touchdown pass at a key point in the game against Virginia Tech. Grade: D Offense Overall: B+ Defense Line: Dante Stills, Jordan Jefferson and Sean Martin have applied plenty of pressure against opposing quarterbacks and have been terrific against the run. This is a position that the Mountaineers can always rely on to be consistently great. Grade: B+ Linebackers: The linebackers have quietly been a real strength of the West Virginia football team this year. Lee Kpogba, Lance Dixon, Jared Bartlett and Exree Loe have all played consistently well this season. Grade: B Secondary: Losing All Big 12 First Team preseason selection Charles Woods in the first half of the Pitt game was devastating for the team's secondary and has forced young, inexperienced defensive backs to step in earlier than expected. They have held up over the last two games, but they were also playing against two really bad passing teams in Towson and Virginia Tech. Next week at Texas will tell us a lot more about this position. Grade: C- Defense Overall: B Special Teams: Kicker Casey Legg has been perfect (8-8 FG, 17-17 XP) and freshman punter Oliver Straw has exceeded expectations, but punter returner Reese Smith has fumbled two punts, which is unacceptable. Grade: C+ Coaching: What we've learned is that this is an exceptionally talented team that can compete against any team in the conference and perhaps in the country on any given day, but head coach Neal Brown has appeared in over his head and too passive at key moments. While it can be argued that Brown made the statistically correct decision to punt on 4th and 1 late in the Backyard Brawl, not many other coaches in the country would have made that decision which ultimately cost the Mountaineers a huge win. Brown has too often played to not lose rather than to win, and he must show that he can take some to win close games late. West Virginia has the talent. Now it's up to Neal Brown and his staff to step up and make them winners. Grade: D

Winning Ugly, It’s What Neal Brown Does

Many people are still talking about the performance by the Mountaineers over the weekend. At many points during the game, the team struggled against Baylor, most notably the offense. Though West Virginia was able to pull out the double overtime win, it did not come without a headache or two.   While fans continue to complain about the ugly victory, they do not realize this is simply Neal Brown's brand of football. During his stint at Troy, Brown did not bring with him the high-flying air raid offense of his Texas Tech days. What he would instead do with the Trojans was run the ball and play defense. It wasn't always flashy, it wasn't always pretty, but it got the job done.   In 2018, Troy would struggle in two games that they very easily could have lost. Being as it was a Neal Brown coached team, they found a way to win in the end.   Everyone remembers the Trojans' upset over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln. Though Scott Frost hadn't entirely gotten his feet under him yet, Nebraska was still expected to win. However, Neal Brown and the Trojans would have something completely different in mind.   Statistically, the Trojans had every right to lose the game. If one were to take a glance at the box score on, they would probably be stunned that Troy was even in the game at all. The Cornhuskers were able to outgain the Trojans, 364 to 253, and won time of possession, 32:54 to 27:06. What was the most eyepopping statistic of all was the 12 first downs for Troy. What this indicates is the Trojans often struggled to move the ball over the course of the game.   Despite all of this, Troy pulled out the 24-19 victory - and never trailed in the game. Neal Brown and his squad were able to take the lead in the first quarter, and never surrendered it. The Trojans relied on their defense, and their defense got the job done. This would not be the only time this would occur during the 2018 season, as Troy would once again have to rely on defense. This time against a lesser opponent.   Later that season, Troy would barely edge Texas State 12-7. Going into the contest, the Bobcats were a pitiful 3-7 (1-5 in conference). If you like ugly defensive football, you probably loved this game.   The Trojans were once again outgained, 284-220, and would only pick up 13 first downs for the entire game. Passing the ball, Troy was only able to accumulate 79 yards - pretty bad, right? What would win this game for Neal Brown was the six turnovers that his defense forced, as well as winning the time of possession battle.   They once again never trailed during the game, and were able to hold strong against Texas State's late comeback attempt. Sound familiar?   What we saw against Baylor was a West Virginia team that did everything they could to lose the game. The Bears were on the comeback, but West Virginia's defense prevailed. If the Mountaineers plan to compete for the Big 12 with Neal Brown as their coach, this is simply the style of football they will do it with.   After all, winning is all that matters, right? No matter how you do it, WIN THE DAMN GAME. I have full confidence that Neal Brown will win some damn games at West Virginia,. Even if it causes our fanbase heart attacks and comes with several close calls in the end.   TRUST THE CLIMB

UPDATE: WVU Band Will Not Be in Attendance Today

After two positive COVID-19 tests, “The Pride of West Virginia” Marching Band will not be in attendance for today’s WVU-Baylor matchup. The cases were found during safety checks last night, per the team’s Facebook page. Contact tracing is “under way” and has officially disqualified the group from performing at today’s game. This comes after the band was reportedly practicing yesterday for today’s event. COVID-19, as always, is a fluid situation and can change anything at any given time. Today is just West Virginia’s day to suffer the social side effects from contracting the disease.

A Look Back at the 2012 Edition of WVU-Baylor

In the highest scoring game in the history of Mountaineer Field, WVU was able to defeat the Baylor Bears 70-63 on September 29, 2012. Geno Smith had a career day for any Mountaineer quarterback. Smith finished 45-for-51 with 656 yards and eight touchdowns to no interceptions. Many in the media wanted to hand him the Heisman Trophy after the performance. Stedman Bailey also set school records with 313 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. Tavon Austin wasn’t far behind him with 215 receiving yards and two touchdowns.   West Virginia tallied 807 total yards on offense, and used a big third quarter surge to outrun the Bears.   But wait - there’s more...   J.D. Woods had what was possibly the most difficult catch ever for the Old Gold & Blue.   It was all around a fantastic day for the Mountain State. Let’s hope for more fireworks this Saturday when WVU takes on the Bears in Morgantown. The game kicks off at noon on ABC.

Jarret Doege Will Be One of the Best Quarterbacks in the Big 12

Tomorrow, Jarret Doege will be making his fourth career start at quarterback for the Mountaineers. After a lengthy competition with redshirt senior Austin Kendall, Doege was finally named the starter on September 3rd by Head Coach Neal Brown. While many have remained skeptical about Doege's potential, often citing that his stats resembled that of Kendall's last season, we believe he has what it takes to set himself apart as one of the best quarterback in the Big 12.   When Doege takes the field, he will be doing so with one of the best young receiving corps in the conference. Sam James, T.J. Simmons, Sean Ryan, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton headline the unit, and all bring their own unique skill set to the table. This will give Doege more than enough weapons to play with in Neal Brown's offense. Though a quarterback is often given credit for carrying a team, the signal-caller can only be as good as the pieces around him. With so much downfield threat potential, this will almost automatically enhance Doege's play.   Experience is vital when talking about a quarterback. Coming from Bowling Green, Doege left with nearly two full seasons as starter under his belt. Though the Falcons are in the Mid-American Conference, a Group of 5 member, the team had the opportunity to play stout competition during Doege's tenure. The most notable being a 2018 matchup against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Oregon. Despite the 58-24 loss that the Falcons suffered, Doege played exceptional in the game, completing 22-of-38 passes for 253 yards and a 3-2 TD-INT ratio.   The 19-games he competed in at Bowling Green along with the 4 games he saw action in at WVU should go a long way for Doege. He has seen virtually every situation a game can throw at him. Blowouts, close games, nail biters, and even weird matchups. There isn't much Jarret Doege has not seen as a college quarterback.   Finally, let's talk about the physical and mental components to Doege's play. What he brings to the table is a fiery moxie and lethal arm talent. Several times last season, Doege put his arm strength on display for Mountaineer Nation to see. One play in particular came against Oklahoma State. Throwing off of his backfoot, Doege would fire a deep shot to receiver George Campbell for a touchdown. Despite not being properly set nor having really any leverage on the throw whatsoever, Doege was able to put the touch, velocity, and strength behind the throw to find the receiver in the end zone for the touchdown.   It was at this moment we knew Doege's arm talent should never come into question. Very few quarterbacks would have been able to make that throw, much less put the touch on it to get it over the defender. The throw was undoubtedly NFL-like, and if he can continue to make plays like this, he will have no problems getting acclimated to the high-scoring Big 12 Conference.   As for his fiery moxie, this shows his leadership capabilities. Quarterbacks are expected to be the leader of the team. In doing so, they cannot be afraid to show their personality a little during a game. Doege became animated each time he made a big play. Celebrating with teammates, giving a fired up fist pump, and most famously extending his hands to let out an in-game war cry to the crowd. If this personality Doege displays can translate to the locker room, he will easily win over his teammates - if he hasn't done so already.   Doege has everything it takes to be a spectacular Big 12 quarterback. The arm, the experience, and the passion. If he continues to grow in Neal Brown's offense, he could even find himself in the midst of the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year conversation.   If you have not heard it anywhere else, then you heard it here first. Jarret Doege will be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 - sooner rather than later.

The Real Mountaineer Nation

Over the course of the last week, being a Mountaineer fan has become hard...really hard. On virtually every WVU related page on Facebook and Twitter, "fans" from all across the state have threatened to boycott the team completely due to a small "BLM" sticker on the back of the team's helmets. Pretty stupid, right?   What I have struggled with during this short but eventful time frame is debating whether or not I even want to consider myself a part of "Mountaineer Nation" anymore. Since I was nine-years old, I have gladly claimed to be a part of what I thought was the best fanbase in the country. Sadly, as years have went on, I have been proven wrong. The last seven days have just been a nail in the coffin.   I truly began to debate my allegiance to this fanbase shortly after I started writing for The Voice last November. Being that I was nothing more than an avid WVU fan on Twitter, of course I was ecstatic when I was approached about potentially writing for any WVU related publication. No I am not necessarily "qualified" as I will be graduating with a history degree in December, not journalism. I saw it as a fun opportunity, and to this day, I still do it for nothing more than the enjoyment of getting my opinion out there and my love for the Mountaineers.   It was almost immediately after I began writing that I was exposed to the not-so-great side of Mountaineer Nation. Countless times I have been heckled by people I have never met before in my life, and even had grown men more than twice my age threaten physical harm against me. Why you ask? All because I had a different opinion than they did.   It is this characteristic that has once again reared its ugly head for Mountaineer Nation. While most of West Virginia has proudly proclaimed they do not agree with the "BLM" stickers being placed on the back of the team's helmets, they have done so irrationally. Instead of trying to find middle ground, they have instead shown themselves to be too prideful to have any sort of empathy for their fellow man. In particular, their fellow man of color.   While I do contribute this to a lack of education among the West Virginia community, the hate in the hearts of our fellow "Mountaineers" is undeniable. Despite questioning my allegiance to this fanbase, it has become apparent to me that I have been approaching this situation all wrong. Instead of asking myself if I want to be a part of Mountaineer Nation, I should rather ask who the real Mountaineer Nation is?   In my opinion, if you have at any point denounced yourself as a Mountaineer fan in the past week, you are not a true member of Mountaineer Nation. If you have wished any sort of harm or failure upon the athletic programs or the university, you are not a true member. Instead, the small but rational portion of the fanbase are the ones who truly carry the mantle for Mountaineer Nation. "The real Mountaineer Nation."   From now on, I will make every effort to ignore hate towards me or the team that I love. Instead of letting it bother me, I will just remind myself that these individuals are not true fans. They are nothing more than selfish human beings who look to our young student athletes to fill their entertainment desires. As far as when it comes to hate directed towards me, they don't know me, and there is a strong chance I probably do not like them either.   Will the real Mountaineer Nation please stand up? It is time to quiet all of this negativity, and find a way to finally put the posers in their place.   Let's Go Mountaineers

The Decal Isn’t Asking You to Support a Marxist Organization. It’s Asking You to...

Let’s take a deep breath, take a step back and think about this. Nobody dawning a football helmet with the Flying WV this year is asking you to support any type of violence. They aren’t asking you to support hatred of any kind. And, they certainly aren’t asking for you to make one race superior than another. That decal to them is asking for respect. Nothing more. Nothing less. Perhaps the late, great Bill Stewart said it best, “It’s Mountaineer Pride.” “DON'T LEAVE YOUR WINGMAN... never, ever, ever bail out on your brother.” And if you automatically associate the three letters, BLM, with hatred. How does that make you feel? Are you against hatred? If so, then how can you turn around and spew hatred? Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s time for unity, not division. It’s time for healing, not attacking. People want to argue on social media about players comments. How about this player’s comment: Jesus spent time with prostitutes and thieves. He was understanding and saw value in everyone. But in this day-in-age, people are so self-centered and childish that we choose to bicker and complain on social media outlets instead of trying to be part of a solution. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. It’s simple. Of course, everybody has their right to an opinion. But, this article isn’t to discuss the Black Lives Matter Organization. This is to discuss 18 - 22 year old young men. These men chose to live in our state. They chose to join the Mountaineer family. Out of all of their options, they put their future, their hope and their dreams into Blue & Gold Nation. And now, they need our support. Let’s Go Mountaineers! Are you in or out? And, before you ask… Am I white? Am I black? I’m a human and that is all that matters.