Do you miss the football rivalries WVU once had?
It was October or November and Pittsburgh was next on West Virginia’s football schedule.
The tempting new season was at hand and Marshall’s green and white legion was touting an upset of the haughty-to-them Mountaineers.
The scattered fan base in the southern counties of the state turned their colors to orange and maroon and began informing the unwashed WVU fans just what a “Hokie” was.
Only aging grandfathers could remember the last time any West Virginia team had tamed a Penn State collection of white-uniformed athletes coached by Joe Paterno, but hope sprang eternal for the Mountaineers when the Nittany Lions came merrily into Morgantown.
Maryland was just mauled last year by an opportunistic West Virginia team, but now the Terrapins won’t be played for a while.
Does anybody miss the mostly heated rivalries with these five college football teams?
Or is your appetite for spiteful times still whetted by this year’s game against the Penguins of Youngstown State? Does the season-opener versus Missouri hold your attention the way the Backyard Brawl did when Johnny Majors, Jackie Sherrill, Serafino “Foge” Fazio and Dave Wannstadt coached.
Those five rivalries were grist for more than just a moonshiner’s still or a ginseng hunter’s knapsack. Those rivalries were circled on the calendar in more people’s kitchens than just those of Jack Fleming, Art “Pappy” Lewis or Don Nehlen.
West Virginia and Pittsburgh. And people bemoan the fact that Notre Dame and Michigan no longer play each other.
Marshall against West Virginia. Not exactly David against Goliath but to hear the folks in Huntington talk you’d think it was at least as one-sided as Shepherd against West Virginia State in the Monte Cater Era in Shepherdstown.
Virginia Tech and its followers in the coal counties bordering on the state of Virginia was a rivalry with some interest even in Weirton or Martinsburg. Neither side was quiet about its allegiance and neither side was quiet about its innate desire to pummel the opposition.
Maryland against West Virginia was tamer than the other four just-mentioned rivalries but beating the neighboring state was “right tasty” in any given year.
Somehow the opportunity to crow about a win over Iowa State or Kansas just isn’t as celebratory as skinning the ill-smelling Panthers or seeing the Thundering Herd go careening over a cliff like the ones at Hawks Nest or Copper’s Rock.
Most of those schools are returning to West Virginia’s schedule in the next eight or 10 years . . . but the Penguins can’t hold our attention until then.
Are there any other teams that could have us foaming at the mouth for victory against them until the preferred rivalries return?
An on-field giant like Ohio State or a media-made giant like Notre Dame would satisfy many if a long-running series was instituted. Playing Navy or Army also makes sense.
Bringing back Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, Boston College or Virginia would give certain factions the opponent they would like to beat if possible.
Even Big 12 games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor don’t hold the attention of West Virginia fans like the games when Pittsburgh, Marshall and Virginia Tech were just around the next bend of the New River or being talked about at the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg.