Ever since the day West Virginia University was formally introduced as a member of the Big 12 conference, I have been eyeing the opportunity to head to Morgantown to watch my beloved Cyclones play some football. The stories of couch burning, wildness, and fantastic football atmosphere far proceeded their entrance. Ever since the days of Pat White and Steve Slaton, they've been on my radar. This last weekend, I finally had the opportunity to indulge my long held curiosities.
For this trip I would be accompanied by long-time ISU road trip companions The Cousin and P-Mac. Our plan was to meet up with CanAzn, WDM4Cy and their crew, as well SchizophrenicCycho and CygoneWhoreBitMyNoseOff, and then catch up with SmithFire13, WVUIE97, and JohnRadcliff from WVU's Smoking Musket. It was a plan rife with opportunity for severe levels of public drunkenness and general chicanery.
The Cousin and I had family Thanksgiving at my mom's place in Northeast Iowa, and he also accompanied me to dinner at the in-laws (about 45 minutes down the road closer towards Morgantown). After copious amounts of turkey, ham, stuffing, and potatoes (and red wine on my part) we hit the road. Within 9 hours, we had blazed a path of bawdy talk, caffeine, and flatuence across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, before we settled into the Holiday Inn Express at the Cleveland International Airport. P-Mac was arriving at 11:00 AM, and we needed sleep. The Cousin, in his sleep deprived and somewhat agitated state nearly had to be physically restrained from flying over the partition at the hotel desk after the night clerk (who resembled a tick) required him to walk back out into the parking lot and report his full license plate number, despite the high likelihood that his vehicle was the only Passat bearing Arkansas plates within a 100 mile radius.
After maybe 2 hours of sleep (and plenty of flatulence), we awoke and retrieved P-Mac at the Cleveland airport. If you've ever been to the Cleveland airport, you will know that it has an extremely easy to follow lay-out for picking people. Despite this fact, we had to pass through it not once, not twice, but thrice before finally landing the Mac in the Passat and lighting out for Morgantown.
It wasn't 5 minutes out of the Cleveland airport before we encountered our first (and amazingly only) Hawkeye fan. Somehow, I ALWAYS seen Iowa fans while travelling to ISU games, and this was no exception.
By 1:40 PM, we were belly up at Kegler's watching the Iowa/Nebraska game, housing delicious wings (I recommend the Kegler's Gold), and putting away ice-cold Yuenglings. This was when we tasted our first dose of delicious Mountaineer hospitality. The Cousin had been watching the Winnipeg Jets (he's Canadian)/Philly Flyers game, and making friendly banter with a Flyers fan a table over. We were all decked out in our ISU gear, and after the Flyers/Jets game, the table engaged us with some friendly "Welcome to Morgantown" type banter, and after they had vacated the building, a mysterious pitcher had shown up. We were told by the waitress that that crew had ordered it for us (and paid for it) on the way out the door. This would repeat itself. Also of note, we discovered that Kegler's valued the deer & beer combo as much as we at WRNL do!
We then checked into our hotel (the Hampton Inn on Van Voorhis Rd) and quickly discovered that Morgantown, West Virginia might have the worst public transportation in America for a place that has such a significant need for it. There is literally one taxi company in town, and they make a sport of trying to provide terrible customer service. We called for a cab and they literally refused to give us any time frame whatsoever as to when they may be picking us up. Also, their public bus system runs a very bare-bones schedule during any kind of WVU school break (not all that different from Cy-Ride, I guess). Thankfully, due to a wonderful ISU couple named Brent & Patty, we received a ride to downtown Morgantown, where we met up with SchizophrenicPsycho, CyGoneWhore and a buddy of theirs at Morgantown Brewing Company. The car ride from our hotel to downtown was great. We passed over the first set of mountains rising up from the Monongahela River and got to view downtown as we wound down hundreds of feet past student party houses and into campus (which was gorgeous). We pounded some delicious local brews at Morgantown Brewing Company (or Brew Pub as the locals call it) before heading to the Sports Page, which would become our home-away-from-home for the weekend.
As we walked from Brew Pub to Spage we learned the main rule of Morgantown: no matter where you are, where you are trying to get to is sharply uphill. How West Virginians manage to maintain the nation's highest obesity rates in such a beautifully rugged state is beyond us flatlanders.
Due to Thanksgiving break the crowd at Sports Page was a little mild on Friday, but we had a blast nonetheless. SmithFire13 and a buddy of his were entertaining CanAzn, WDM4Cy and their crew before karaoke fired up. Shots were ordered with impunity, Yuengling was pounded, and 5 hours of sleep in a 48 hour span caught up with old Norm. CanAzn has a picture of me standing up passed out somewhere. Whatever, I was rocking it. One of my last hazy memories was of singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver for the first of what must have been 50 times that weekend. After a trip to Jimmy John's around 10:00 and lucking out on finding a cab at the cab stand on High Street (similar to the cab line up on Court and 3rd in DSM), I was done for Friday. The Cousin and P-Mac followed shortly thereafter and made personal friends with Allen the Cabby, which would save us from the hellish pits of Morgantown cab-fuckery come Saturday night.
We awoke Saturday AM struggling and hung over. We polished off some complimentary hot breakfast at the Hampton Inn, and headed to a Kroger's to gather booze for the day. We figured 2 cases of Yuengling Light, plus a growler of Toppling Goliath PsuedoSue was probably enough for 3 guys. We also ran into a gentleman named Sweez who invited us to his tailgate in the Light Blue lot. This was yet another example of ridiculous West Virginian hospitality.
By 9:00 AM we were slugging uphill from the Hampton Inn towards the Blue Lot. When we arrived, we were greeted with a view of Jack Trice, err Milan Puskar Stadium, and a fairly empty Blue Lot.
However, it wasn't long before we were welcomed into a tailgate with open arms and were regaled with our host's story of last night's 3 some with a couple of meth-addled strippers. Naturally, we were instantly enamored with our hosts. At the first tailgate, people from surrounding 'gates saw our cardinal and gold decor and flocked to welcome/gawk at the flatland intruders. Conversation was great as we contemplated cultural similarities, and the Mountaineers' transition to the Big 12. An overwhelming theme was how welcomed the WVU fans felt by Big 12 fanbases. Their reputation as Big East fan bullies was largely built off the fact that so many of the East Coast fanbases would waltz into Morgantown with their noses in the air, regarding the WVU fanbase and community as a bunch of inbred idiots. They could immediately tell we (and most Big 12 fanbases thus far) didn't view them in such a light. The old adage of respect and be respected seemed to fit. Right off the bat, their fans were friendly, welcoming, and incredibly generous. We were offered Holgo Heads on a stick, which naturally we accepted.
We also were introduced to another rule of WVU tailgating: if you like the ganj, light the hell up, wherever you want. We visited with a very nice couple from Jersey who were both WVU alums up for the game who were just openly sharing a J like it was a completely acceptable thing to do. We would soon find out (by just opening our noses) that this is completely acceptable at WVU tailgates. I've seen it plenty of times in Ames, but not this open or widespread. I appreciated the candor and carefree attitude of our hosts, although I declined to partake.
From our initial tailgate, we continued to wander on. We could see the cardinal and gold flying in the distance up the hill from the Blue Lot, and we still needed to find Sweez and the Musket crew. We made it about 10 feet before we ran into the Ford Econoline featured at :24 in the following video:
There we were offered multiple samples of Moonshine (in true WVU fashion). With straight, cherry, and fresh peach in tow, our coonskin capped hosts (they claimed they had all killed their own coons and fashioned the hats at home) were passing the 'shine left and right in attempts at seducing us via booze. For my money I'd rank the following as such: Peach, Straight, Cherry. All were great.
From that tailgate, we wandered towards the distant ISU flag across the street from the WVU tailgate lots.
At the ISU tailgate we met some great travelling Cyclones, who included the body builder dude who was heavily featured on Fox's Farmageddon 2012 broadcast and a couple of dudes who were literally riding Radio Flyers full of beer down the hills of Morgantown. If there's a more consistently inventive fanbase in America, in terms of tailgating and alcohol consumption, than ours, I'd like to see it. Little did we know that as we looked across the road, we were staring directly at Sweez's tailgate.
After getting our Clone fix, we headed back into the heart of the Blue Lot to meet up with SmithFire13, WVUIE97, Radcliff, CanAzn, WDM4Cy and the whole Riot Bowl SB Nation contingent. Yuengling and strawberry shine was shared as we all marveled at the Riot Bowl trophy (I believe CanAzn has it) and BS'd with our Mountain friends. Many jokes were had at my expense on account of Friday's bar performance, and at least one spontaneous sing-a-long of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" broke out.
As we were within 4 hours of kick-off the Blue Lot began to fill up (a stark contrast to the predictions of the WVU faithful) and the scent of someone blazing in the near distance became a more-or-less constant.
(This tent might as well have been Phish's tour bus)
With kick-off drawing closer, we headed in earnest for Sweez's tailgate, only allowing ourselves to momentarily stop for burgers and shine courtesy of some well-connected WVU alumni who wanted to share in the hospitable spirit. We finally made it about 1 before kick off, and were rewarded with a wide spread, more shine, and lots of beers.
We headed into the game, where their Big 12 pride was well on display, and enjoyed what I felt was a solid atmosphere. Their student section was completely sparse, but as you'll see from my pics, the rest of the stadium was pretty well full. We enjoyed stadium-legal beer, pepperoni rolls, and a shocking Cyclone victory.
After the game, we recruited the services of Allen The Cabby, and made it down to the Boston Beanery, where we ran into some more excessive fan hospitality (didn't pay for a beer) before heading down to the Sports Page, which was now hopping and full of ISU fans and WVU fans having a blast with each other.
Beers were bought for us, hell, even blow was offered (from fellow ISU fans no less) and a great time was had by all. Spontaneous outbursts of "Take Me Home, Country Roads", including a rendition where The Cousin, P-Mac, and myself all got in a huddle with some WVU fans, were fired off ad nauseum. Very few beers were paid for. As the bar closed, Allen returned us comfortably to the Hampton Inn, where we scrambled to pack the Passat and hit the road early Sunday AM.
By 8:00 we had departed Morgantown, and worked our way west. P-Mac was returned to Cleveland by 11:00AM, I was back to Northeast Iowa by 9:30, and The Cousin was in Minneapolis by midnight. We were tired, but we were victorious.
Time and time again, the WVU fans proved to be phenomenal hosts. They bought us beers, they gave us food, they gave us a place to party, hell, some of them even offered us drugs. They were, without a doubt, some of the best fans any of us had ever encountered. I would highly recommend the trip to Morgantown for any visiting fan. It is a beautiful place full of exceedingly friendly people, and a great atmosphere for college football.
West Virginia, we're damn glad to have you in the Big 12.
Now let's sing it one more fuckin' time