While its college football traditions may be hard to find, it is not without history. A head coach once sought assistance to find "dirt" on his assistant and the fan base's modus operandi for celebrating needed to be outlawed for safety reasons. Morgantown, West Virginia, ranks 22nd on our Top 100 College Football Towns of America countdown.
To celebrate 100 days until the start of the college football season, HERO Sports is counting down the Top 100 FBS College Football Towns in America. Each day, through Aug. 24, a new city will be revealed. We will analyze the city, the program, the good and bad of the city as well as the bottom line. If you got a problem, @me on Twitter.
22. Morgantown, West Virginia — West Virginia
With Will Grier back at quarterback, this season may be Dana Holgorsen's best chance at a Big 12 title. (Photo: Associated Press)[/credit]
For a program that is 127 years old, there really is a lack of anything resembling sustained success. That is despite Hall of Fame coaches at the helm like Bobby Bowden and Don Nehlan.
West Virginia is the winningest program in the FBS that has not won a national championship. The Mountaineers longest streak of finishing a season in the Top 25 is five years, from 2005-2009. That streak was thwarted by then-head coach Bill Stewart, pulling a House of Cards-like stunt and enlisting the help of local reporter, Colin Dunlap to find negative information on then-Oklahoma State, soon-to-be-West Virginia assistant coach Dana Holgorsen. Stewart "resigned," and the Holgorsen-era commenced.
Only once in Holgorsen's seven-year tenure have the 'Eers finished outside the top 22 nationally in total offense. This year should mark the first time they finish in the top 10. Senior Will Grier is, arguably, the top-rated quarterback in college football this year. David Sills returns after an All-American 2017, leading the nation with 18 touchdown catches. While Sills picked up post-season accolades, it was Gary Jennings who led the team in catches, with 97.
If the defense can be somewhat competent with just four returning starters, this might be the year West Virginia earns its first Big 12 title.
Unless you're going to call John Denver a liar, which, I for one, will not condone, West Virginia is "almost heaven." Morgantown nuzzles up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the banks of the Monongahela River.
Stick with me for a second.
In "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Ultron separates Sokovia from Earth, with plans to use it as his own personal death rock. Morgantown is just like that, except instead of using a town as a weapon of mass destruction, they took an entire city and placed it in the first Hunger Games arena. Dorsey's Knob may provide one of the most fascinating views in America.
Having said that, just because of a picturesque landscape and one singer waxes poetic with a delightful tribute to the Mountain State, does not mean those from that fine state can go cavalier with sobriquets. Case in point, Morgantown is not Motown. There is only one Motown and the inclination that in some way both Detroit and Morgantown have had some shared or equal contribution to culture and society is a downright travesty and a woeful attempt at global recognition.
It needed to be said.
While the West Virginia state fruit may be Golden Delicious apples, the unofficial state food is pepperoni rolls. Bread, good. Meat, good. Pepperoni rolls, really, really, really good.
Maybe it is the cognitive understanding of isolation, whether because of natural wonders like Cooper Rock State Forest and the Monongahela River providing an almost fort-like barrier to the outside world. Or–in football–being a thousand miles away from the nearest conference competition. Whatever the reasoning, spend too much time in Morgantown and the part of your brain that is supposed to provide reason and clarity begins to malfunction.
It is the only explanation one could possibly have for fans to celebrate big wins with arson–literally. I have watched some really great games in my lifetime. Not once, have I had the desire to light my own furniture on fire in the front yard as means of a celebration. Thank goodness the government stepped in and outlawed said tradition. The current celebratory tradition is much more beautiful and a thousand times safer.
Country Roads will take you to Morgantown, a beautiful city by any measurement, with enough activities to entertain every iteration of a college football fan. The team wins, but not enough to be considered a top tier program. I leave it to fellow HERO Sports colleague and West Virginia native, Chase Kiddy, to sum it up.
"Morgantown is good, and also bad, and sometimes dangerous, and definitely unique, but its pretty [expletive] good."