Mountaineers carrying more than their luggage to Indianapolis


The West Virginia University Mountaineers men’s basketball team is going to the Final Four in Indianapolis as a result of defeating the University of Kentucky Wildcats and winning the East Region, where they will play the winners of the South region, the Duke University Blue Devils. It has not been an easy road for the Mountaineers en route to Indianapolis.

West Virginia has always been the butt of the average person’s jokes, whether it was a dental joke, an incest joke, or a redneck joke, they’ve always been hurled. The state is also one of the poorest in the nation, and when its young residents graduate high school or college, they are on the first road leading out of West Virginia. It has often been said that one of West Virginia’s greatest resources has been manpower.

The jokes towards the state’s flagship university have also been hurled; deserved or not. The fans have been called “classless,” “drunken hillbillies,” and “ingrates.” The WVU fans have developed a reputation for being some of the rowdiest in the nation.

However, through all of the tasteless and hurtful jokes, heartbreaks (former football coach Don Nehlen went 16 consecutive years without winning a bowl game) and controversies (the basketball team hired former Bowling Green men’s coach Dan Dakich, only for him to resign a week later due to him learning about potential NCAA rules violations during the darkest days of the basketball program), the fans have stuck with the Mountaineers. As senior Da’Sean Butler said in an interview with WVU’s campus newspaper The Daily Athenaeum, “The people there love us so much, and they support us so much. I definitely know it means the world to them.”

Even the hiring of current coach Bob Huggins didn’t come without controversy. The pundits were ready to pour it on, saying how he was perfect for West Virginia due to his past alcoholic problems. The pundits also make it a point to mention that he wears a sweatsuit while coaching, as opposed to the normal “suit and tie” outfit most coaches wear. However, in his three short years there, he has taken a team with finesse that won an NIT Championship to a team equipped with more physical toughness and attitude contending for the NCAA Final Four Championship.

After the Big East Championship victory, at least a thousand fans gathered outside of the WVU Coliseum to greet the team upon arrival from New York City. Local print and broadcast (both radio and television) media were there as well. Again, the players emphasized that they are doing it for the fans AND the state of West Virginia. The same scene unfolded the night WVU beat Kentucky to advance to the Final Four; at least a thousand fans (along with the media) waited that night for the team to arrive back from Syracuse, NY to greet the team. This time, it was a night arrival. If you weren’t a night-owl, then you were out of luck. Once again, the players made sure to emphasize that they were going to win it for the fans AND the state of West Virginia.

The Mountaineers are carrying more than their luggage to Indianapolis. The Mountaineers are carrying the entire state of West Virginia to Indianapolis. Later today, I will post a preview of tonight’s matchup against the Duke Blue Devils.