I’ve been a Mountaineer fan all my life, and thus I have been through many disappointments. I always start off a season with the slimmest of hopes that we might actually go undefeated and win the national championship. This season was no different, but the hopes got higher with every victory and with all the media attention we seemed to be getting. Wow—maybe we can run the table! Alas, it was not to be!
However, the loss at Lubbock is not the end of the world. True Mountaineer fans know that these things happen, and that rather than jumping off the bandwagon, you cheer on the team that represents you through thick or thin. The flying WV represents our state. Montani Semper Liberi!
I can remember my final fall semester as a WVU student in 1984, we were having a great year, First, we beat Pitt—which by itself made for a good year. Then, we beat Boston College with their Heisman winning quarterback and media darling Doug Flutie for the fourth straight year (I love it that in a recent interview he said his biggest regret was never beating WVU). Best of all, we beat our long-time nemesis Penn State one week later (albeit at a great cost as our injury problems mounted). All this good news came to an end as our walking wounded players lost to Rutgers, Temple, and Virginia to finish the season. A victory over TCU in the Astrodome bowl game (after injured players had time to heal) helped to assuage the pain of this lofty fall from grace.
In 1988, Major Harris led us through a dream-come-true undefeated regular season, only to see him injured in the first series of what would have been the National Championship Game (I think of that Fiesta Bowl whenever I see Lou Holtz). In 1993, Jake (the Snake) Kelchner and Darren Studstill led a two-headed offense through another undefeated regular season, and on to play the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. After a quick march down the field for the first score, a freak series of plays where Studstill was hit hard and his helmet damaged led to an interception for a touchdown and then the game was over.
Finally, in 2007 an early loss at USF was quickly forgotten as everyone else had at least one loss as well, and WVU had climbed to #2 in the polls. All we had to do was beat a mediocre Pitt team at home to head to the National Championship game, only to find out that “Fraudriguez” had his mind on his new Michigan contract money instead of his mind on the game.
Someday it might happen, but going undefeated never happens very often—even for the best of teams. Look at the list of national champions and there are many who have since suffered mediocre seasons (e.g., Texas, Auburn, Miami). I’m just glad we aren’t Penn State, Ohio State, USC, or others who have faced NCAA sanctions for serious improprieties. It is all a game, and just like real life, there are ups and downs along the way. Rarely is everything wonderful all the time. The negative moments, such as the aftermath of the Texas Tech game, help to make the positive moments better. Coming out the other side from disappointment breeds character. Hang in there Mountaineers!