OK, can we just put this to rest already? WVU, you are not our rival. You are not even the rival that we tell everyone isn’t a rival but still cackle gleefully when they nearly lose to the Miami Dolphins of the SEC. Wooooooo pig eie-eeee-eeeeeeeeeeeheee (or whatever sound a dolphin makes). The Mountaineers of Morgantown (the Arlington of the Appalachians) have slapped the ‘rival’ label onto the Longhorns despite the fact that we think about them so little that I forgot this Pregamer was even due until an hour before publishing time. It’s really just a case of redirected rival angst though. They don’t play their real rival, Pitt, anymore and they even discontinued the “friends of coal bowl” with Marshall. They seem to be running away from fossil fuels and Pittsburgh faster than a female Democrat in the same bar as
Ben Roethlisberger Antonio Brown Roethlisberger.
The whirling dervish that was Dana Holgersen is gone. #NoMoHolgo #RedBullJokesRIP Let’s be honest, it’ll be three more seasons before we’ve even memorized their new coach’s name. Neal Brown... can we not even get a middle initial or something distinctive? I’m pretty sure Neal Brown let me merge on the highway the other day. Neal Brown wears white new balance tennis shoes. Neal Brown brings his own bags to the grocery store. Neal Brown loves imagine dragons. Neal Brown eats Pace Mild salsa. Sorry, I might have gone too far on the last one.
The Mountaineers are apparently big fans of the Horns down, but who isn’t these days? Honestly, I don’t get all the flak around the horns down. It’s just further proof that Texas has the best brand in football, not to mention even an upside down horns logo on a t-shirt writes a royalty check to UT. I say embrace it and let’s literally take it to the bank. Speaking of taking it to the bank, pay for play is back in the news — and I’m not referring to Robert Kraft and day spas. College athletes now have a path to being paid for their likeness in California in the future, and other states are starting to line up behind them. The NCAA, like Straylight Run on Prom Night, is not thrilled — calling it an ‘existential threat’ to college sports. In reality, it’s like legalizing weed; not much will change except that Uncle Sam will finally get his cut and bagmen can finally have LinkedIn profiles. That and I guess NCAA Football 2023? EA can eat me.
Oh, and here’s a fun headline — Natty Light Seltzer is now the official hard seltzer of the Big 12 Conference. Holgo, you left too soon! While I prefer the other hard seltzer that negates all laws while you drink it, it’s hard to argue against the brand synergies of Natural Light and the Big 12. The fact that it’s a hard seltzer and not the lukewarm staple of beer pong tables across West Campus really gives it a an extra enjoyable twist of Millenial/Gen Z flavor.
Alright — there’s a lot more meat left on this bone. Texas > West Virginia. Oil > Coal. Joe Wickline’s son (but not Joe). The top employer in WVU is Walmart. The hills have eyes. The list goes on and on. However, like the Mountaineers affinity for the horns down, no one actually cares about this ‘rivalry’. You’re all just reading this far waiting for the inevitable couch burning joke. Ok fine. What’s something soft that quickly catches fire only to promptly burn to ashes every fall? No no no, it’s not the Aggie football team — this is the couch burning joke, guys.
The fundamental, underlying ethos of the Air Raid offense is about being wholeheartedly different and with a zealous devotion to that difference. And by God, if that just don’t about sum West Virginia as concisely as possible.
There are some interesting Air Raid threads woven through West Virginia and, naturally, they all come back to Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, and a school of 601 students in Southeast Iowa. In the late 80s, Mumme, of Copperas Cove fame, wanted to take what LaVell Edwards did at BYU and democratize it. He brought along a crazy lawyer who had coached football in Finland named Leach (who came up with the marketable name Air Raid), and they launched a movement that would eventually change the entire sport out of a school called Iowa Wesleyan in a town called Mount Pleasant.
Of the roughly 7,500 residents of that two-stoplight Iowa town at that exact moment in time was the local high school star receiver and purveyor of a mean mullet (front included): Dana Holgorsen. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
He played for Mumme/Leach (henceforth: Mummch) for two seasons before following them from NAIA to DII Valdosta State to join the coaching ranks. They parted ways when Kentucky decided they wanted “basketball on grass” to appease the hoops-mad fanbase looking for a frenetic-paced pigskin game comparable to basketball - and looked to the Mummch team.
It was here that Neal Brown played two seasons under Mumme -- and one under Leach before he ventured south to OU then Tech -- and became acquainted with the Air Raid. Brown would eventually make his way to the plains of Lubbock, if only to keep the offense alive and well after
Craig James made his first non-lady of the night kill Mike Leach was fired, serving as Tech’s OC under Tubberville.
To come full circle, and leave OSU/UH/Troy completely out of the story, Holgo is now gone. He passes the reins of the Mountaineer MountainAIR to the goofy looking fellow in the picture above (uh...the goofy one on the left). While neither he nor his offense are as ridiculous as his air raid brethren, there is still enough firepower to scare you. Speaking of…
West By Gun Virginia
West Virginia has 19x as many rifle championships as the Army, which honestly is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. But it really makes sense if you figure civilians probably have 20x as many guns as the military. Also strong correlation here between championships and the need to shoot a bear (or in TCU’s case, a cougar).
Numbers, (Just to rub our ‘math’ in their faces)
14. Did you know WVU is 14th all time in wins? They lead the nation in wins without winning a championship.
4. Texas was one of 4 programs with 900 wins heading into the bye week...there are now 7!
11,131. WVU will travel the second most miles for regular season games this year (a trip to Texas would’ve pushed them over Arizona at 11,784). Most of the Top 10 were Pac 12.
10. WVU is 10th of 10 in Big 12 Town size.
20,729. That’s how many more students are enrolled at UT than are estimated to live in Morgantown.
Big 12 towns, by size:
- Austin, TX - 950,715
- Fort Worth, TX - 874,168
- Lubbock, TX - 260,972
- Waco, TX - 138,183
- Norman, OK - 123,471
- Lawrence, KS - 87,643
- Ames, IA - 67,154
- Manhattan, KS - 54,959
- Stillwater, OK - 50,391
- Morgantown, WV - 30,955
Better Know a Roster
There’s a fantastic Portlandia sketch about the dream of the 90s being alive in Portland. There’s an even better one about the dream of the 1890s being alive in Portland. Take a look at this crew from WVU’s inaugural 1891 team:
And then compare that to the chin straps (in West V they call ‘em ridge runners), mutton chops, and turn of the century unkempt fuzz.
We’ve moved on from the Oklahoma mullets, but the dream of the (18)90s is alive in Morgantown!
Casey Legg (K, R-Fr.) - a Kicker with the surname Legg? What’s next, a name that rhymes with their special teams position? Shunter the Punter? Chance the Deep Snapper?
Alonzo Addae (CB, R-Jr.) - Keeps the doctor away!
Eric Sjöstedt (OL, R-So.) - Ystad, Sweden / Bristol Academy of Sport - Imagine coming from the land of sensibly priced couches and finding aforementioned couches set ablaze for seemingly no reason. The horror! The horror!
Blaine Scott (OL, R-So.) - So proud of Landry (Lance) Clarke sticking with his dreams of football and not wasting time on piddly academics.
Sam Cookman (DL, R-So.) - He was booooooorn by the river, in a little van DOWN BY THE RIVER.
Nicktroy Fortune (CB, Fr.), VanDarius Cowan (LB, R-So.) - “NickTroy and VanDarius?” This team is so on the nose with the backwoods double first names, that they even…
Sam James (WR, R-Fr.), Ricky Johns (WR, R-So.), Drew Joseph (LB, Fr.), Austin Kendall (QB, R-Jr.), Matt Daniel (P, Fr.) - recruit regular enough guys who have first names for last names to hill-billy em up.
Jackson Knipper (FB, Jr.) - If Jackson’s crew doesn’t rally around him during high stakes beer pong games and say “Let’s win one for the Knipper”, then he needs new friends.
Trey Lowe III (QB, R-Fr.) - This guy’s name is Woodrow Lowe the Third, but he chooses the dubious “double triple” of his name,” the rare Patronymic Forename as well as the suffix! So I will call him Three Lowe Three, which sounds like a 90s R&B group. Bah!
Graeson Malashevich (WR, Fr.) Colton McKivitz (OL, R-Sr.) - Mensch Virginia
Parker Moorer (OL, Fr.), Jeffery Pooler Jr. (DL, R-Jr.) - Just wait ‘til their final evolutions: Parkest Moorest and Jefferiest Polliest!
JoVanni Stewart (S, Sr.) - I’d say the guy is so dedicated to the V in WVU that he capitalized his name and co-opted it for his personal sense of style, but then...
Zach Sandwisch (LB, R-Jr.) - What’s the most WV sandwisch? Top bun of cornbread, bottom bun of Tudor’s biscuit (both soaked in apple pie moonshine, natch), topped with a tangy cole slaw with a heaping of Tae Mayo (CB, Fr.), a deep fried pepperoni roll as the protein, that topped with chili con carne, wild mountain leeks for the health element (but marinated overnight in Mountain Dew).
Adam Stilley (OL, R-So.), Dante Stills (DL, So.), Darius Stills (DL, Jr.) - Look, we get it. You like Moonshine -- it comes from stills...
Freddie Brown (WR, Fr.) Leddie Brown (RB, So.) - This seems like another DKR backfield: “Freddie and Leddie Brown.” They are clearly not related as one is from Mesquite, Texas, and the other is from a school in Philly that is legit called: Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School!
Logan Thimons (TE/FB, R-Jr.) - I cannot read this name without picturing a lispy fitness instructor.
Lorenzo Dorr (RB, R-Jr.) - If his teammates don’t “Zo the Door, Zo the Door!” or call him “Zodor” than I truly have lost all faith in the youths.
Josh Sills (OL, R-Jr.), Leighton Bechdel (P, Fr.) - Lest you worry we are entirely out of the mullet game, some Back Holler Hangtime:
Mullets, chin straps, that’s run-of-the-mill Big-12 fare. Where West V really differentiates themselves is bringing back the Van Dyke. Not since Buffalo Bill, Colonel Sanders, and Gen. Custer has this glory been so on display.
Now, That’s What I Call Moozik, Vol. 5.
Could this have just been #1?
- “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” John Denver- A song about West Virginia, written by a dude from New Mexico, who’s named for both a state and a river. It’s about as confusing as the logic behind making up a rivalry. But that impressive insecurity from Mountaineers shouldn’t overshadow the beauty of this song. My senior year when WVU came to town, the whole south end zone joined our opponents in hollering along to Johnny D’s ode to the mountain mamas who look down on us from on high. I love this song.
- “My Hero,” Foo Fighters - Man, it’s just downright heartwarming to see Shane find success in this new stage in his life as he commands a suddenly mighty Pony Express. It’s like that ex who you broke up with because you both knew you’d be better fits for someone else someday as you share a teary-eyed, full-hearted no-harm no-foul goodbye kiss in the car in the departures lane at the airport before you head off to California to chase that dream job living and then you see a Facebook notification 6 years later that she’s living her best life with her new man and you’re beyond happy with your own qb.
- “You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette - Hell, like a pissed off Canadian, hath no fury like a Mountaineer scorned. I’m sure Morganville is rooting against Houston harder than the rest of the NBA’s Western Conference.
- “21 Summer,” Brothers Osborne - Our sweet demigod Sammy had a monumental birthday last week. We know he stays hydrated, but here’s hoping he enjoys a few crisp cans of something tasty when he gets back to Austin.
- “Pay No Rent,” Turnpike Troubadours - Love a good rivalry. Entertained by a fleet of fake rivalries. In the minds of many, we pay no rent. It’s adorable. Bless their hearts.
- “The One That Got Away,’’ Katy Perry - Just another dig at WVU for losing Dana to a lesser program in a lower conference.
- “Nose to the Grindstone,” Tyler Childers - This Kentuckian was the Country Squire of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode about the pains and painstakingly beautiful allure of West Virginia. There’s something stirring about these two massively creative forces coming together, if only for a moment.
- “Moving On and Getting Over,” John Mayer - Yeah, John nails the pain of lingering too long here. Moving on and getting over are not the same. Pretty much how I’m still feeling about last year’s loss to West Virginia. It still stings.
- “What A Job,” Devin The Dude - First quarter of the season Biletnikoff award winner. Here’s hoping he gets the hardware he deserves when the time comes. The Quan quamparisons are really, really cool, but they do a disservice to just how special of an athlete and competitor Devin is. He’s not the next Quan or Jordan because those dudes were their own players. We don’t have to make a comp just because sports media tells us we should. Devin has more than earned his place as his own dude and legend here at The 40. He’s not the next anyone. He’s Devin The Duve. What a job.
- “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing,” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - Let’s wrap this week up with a fun dub and move on to the only team in this conference worth calling a rival. See y’all in Dallas.
VY Pump Fake: Like any other game this season, one side is playing their rival and the other side is Texas. Horns by 4 jugs of moonshine.
Intern Eli: 3 Rushing TDs by three different dudes, Casey Thompson with a TD in the fourth, and, for good measure, 1 special teams TD. Texas 45, WVU 17.
Kyle Carpenter: In the past few years, I read JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and then worked in Northern Kentucky for a spell long enough to become intimately acquainted with the ‘Mountain Dew mouth’ phenomenon and the pains of Appalachia. You’d think I’d be sympathetic, but not this week. Hit ‘em in their good tooth, avenge Will Grier, and get this one over quick. By the 4th, WVU won’t be any where ‘Neer the Horns.
TamU issues vaping ban on all campuses. “What’s next outlawing fishing shirts, tactical Oakleys, and the goatee?? Gig this!”