By Tony Caridi for WVUsports.com
September 23, 2011 07:42 AM
I’ve been waiting to write this column for one year. Seriously, for one year, I’ve made a mental note to make sure that I do my part in spreading the word about how well WVU fans were treated last year in Baton Rouge.
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I’ve spent the last 30 football seasons traversing the country on fall weekends. I’ve traveled to the “big” places: Lincoln, Gainesville, Knoxville, Austin, South Bend, College Station, State College, Athens, Tallahassee, and more.
Been there, done ’em.
All are wonderful venues, but none were as warm, friendly, and as inviting as the purple-and-gold-clad folks at LSU. It wasn’t, “Hey, that’s the other school’s radio announcing crew, be nice!”
The truth is our motley MSN group traveled incognito into the heart of LSU fandom. We had just finished a Cajun breakfast like no other and began walking the campus. It was early morning and we were dressed the way you’re supposed to look on a Saturday … unshaven, sporting baseball caps, and decked out in our Mountaineer gear.
We weren’t even looking for friends, just looking around at the unbelievable way tens of thousands of people can create a temporary world complete with kitchens, living-room-like accommodations, and enough big screen TVs to make Best Buy envious. The more we walked, the more buddies we made. LSU fans legitimately wanted to talk football. They knew Mountaineer personnel like no other opposing fans I’ve encountered. They were informed, they were passionate, and they treated us, along with the thousands of other Mountaineer fans, like fans are supposed to be treated.
There were no catcalls; there were no taunts and there were no imbecilic t-shirts. It was in a word, civilized.
Granted, LSU fans had no reason to dislike WVU fans since there was no history or bad blood between the two schools. The Tiger faithful admitted they can be less friendly when some of their longtime SEC foes visited. However, the fact is that LSU fans treated the Mountaineer faithful wonderfully and we all need to do the same this weekend.
Simply return the genuine hospitality. If you see someone from the Bayou then give them a warm welcome to Almost Heaven. Go ahead and share some of your tailgate stash. They turned us on to dirty rice so go ahead and introduce them to our famous pepperoni rolls.
It pains me that about five percent of our fans have tarnished the image of the other wonderful 95 percent. Of course the perception is not the reality, and this weekend we have the opportunity to prove it to LSU fans and the college football world.
I’ve been waiting a year to make the request. So please let’s show them what West Virginians and Mountaineer fans are really like.