West Virginia has its own Saints

ncb_a_butler01_300.jpgFor those of you who pay attention to college basketball — and we do only when one certain blue-and-gold team is playing — there’s something going on that’s a lot like what went on during the 2009 NFL postseason.

A team is making a run at the top, and it’s carrying the rest of a state with it.

The Mountaineers are West Virginia’s answer to the New Orleans Saints, a squad around which everyone can rally, a group that fully understands the impact it has on every West Virginian.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports paints an excellent picture of the place where life is older than the trees, explaining that the head coach who grew up in West Virginia wants to do exactly what Sean Payton plans to do with the Lombardi Trophy.  Bob Huggins intends to take the NCAA Championship hardware and the team to every corner of a state with a unique geography that makes the journey from Martinsburg to Bluefield not much shorter than the trek from San Francisco to L.A. 

And Wetzel accurately captures the mindset Huggins has brought to the state.  No longer is it an upset or a fluke when things go well for West Virginia.  We’re now beginning to expect that good things can and will happen — and getting a chance to share in a national title would very well do more for the well-being of this state and its people than anything else ever could.

The irony, of course, is that the WVU football team was supposed to make West Virginians and the rest of the nation simultaneously realize that there’s no difference between us and everyone else, providing the moment at which we can look in the faces of those from other states who resort to easy jokes about bare feet, missing teeth, and/or incest, smile at them, and say, “How do you like our trophy?”  (It also might prompt more than a few folks from west of the Mississippi to finally realize that, yes, there actually is a state called West Virginia and, no, we’re not from Western Virginia.)  The fact that Rich Rodriguez didn’t understand (or, perhaps more accurately, was persuaded by his agent to ignore) the value of that achievement has opened the door for Huggins and the basketball team to nudge football out of the limelight, and to give all West Virginians — native sons and adopted ones like Mountaineers play-by-plan man extraordinaire Tony Caridi and PFTV’s Joe Brocato — a chance to have their pride be met not with ridicule, but respect.

So thanks, Coach Huggins, for finding a way to harmonize your career objectives and your heritage, and for giving all of us a chance to finally persuade those who would otherwise mock us that, in English, in German, or in any other language, West Virginia is a special place, and West Virginians are a special breed.

71 responses to “West Virginia has its own Saints

  1. Florio – Please stop w. the weak WVU puff pieces. It’s a podunk state w. the the most vile fanbase in college athletics.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more. I was born and raised in WV and moved to Georgia right after high school (strangely enough, there were people in Georgia that didn’t know West Virginia was a state either, so stupid isn’t confined to west of the Mississippi). However, I still love me ‘Eers. I’ve also been posting my disdain for Gomer Pyle (you may know him as Bill Stewart) and hope and pray the football team gets a coach like Huggy. Mike Leach comes to mind as Huggy is not exactly, well, huggy. He’s tough, but he is a great teacher and tactician.
    Let’s Go Mountaineers!!!

  3. What a crock of mountaneer shit this story is…….Rich Rodrigurez did exactly the same thing you did Florio……He sold out, and for ALOT more money. But i guess he should not have taken the money huh…

  4. “providing the moment at which we can look in the faces of those from other states who resort to easy jokes about bare feet, missing teeth, and/or incest, smile at them, and say, “How do you like our trophy?””
    You talking about the Mountaneers or the Minnesota Vikings?
    Just kidding. Go WVU!

  5. What are the odds that any of the players will get out of college with the ability to read and write?

  6. Huggins is headed for greener pastures and you hilltoppers, crikdwellers, dumpdivers and wannabebigtimesportscasters will be back to running stills, running from revenuers and running for the hills.

  7. “a group that fully understands the impact it has on every West Virginian.”
    Except for the fat humps in Huntington.

  8. I knew when I saw this topic/link on my Twitter feed that there was a 99%+ chance that Florio wrote it.

  9. Until someone on the Mountaineers is dating a Kardashian, you can never truly be like the Saints.

  10. It is somewhat similar. New Orleans recovered from a natural disaster, and West Virginia has always been one. Seriously, as a diehard Pitt fan I suppose I should be rooting against WVU but living in North Carolina I am so tired of hearing about the ACC that I will support any Big East team…ESPECIALLY if they wind up playing Duke.

  11. Stop it…First of all, this isn’t even football. Second, this WVU team is garbage. Stick to what you know best, which I guess is football.

  12. And? I may be mistaken, but this has absolutely nothing to do with football. So, you compared your favorite college basketball team with an NFL team to make it alright to post on PRO FOOTBALL talk? Start a collegebasketballtalk.com and post this garbage there.

  13. That’s one funny looking Pro Football uniform in that picture…wait…this IS PRO FOOTBALL TALK..right?
    Unlike some folk here, I don’t mind the talk about college football prospects..they COULD play PRO FOOTBALL someday…but really..unless you see the next standout tight end on the court..I don’t see a reason we should be talking about college basketball. I’m sure there are blogs for that.
    Throwing “Saints” in the title doesn’t make this a football story Flowbee-o. Quit it.

  14. nothings worse than going to a “football” site for some news only to read about west virginia. (which doesnt even have a single professional sport). thanks for reminding me why tim graham is superior to this nonsense.

  15. As a native Virginian, I am still embarrassed and apalled that the state of West Virginia shares our name. The Virginia/West Virginia split-up was for good reason and the two states couldn’t have gone in more different directions.
    On another note, didn’t Jerry West bring West Virginia into the limelight nearly 50 years ago? John Denver’s song? Randy Moss recently? Nah, it would take an act of God to make the Toofless State to come into relevance.

  16. WVU-Tenn in Championship game? What would be more people in stands or teeth? Opposum pie will be served with moonshine?

  17. or in any other language, West Virginia is a special place, and West Virginians are a special breed.
    A special breed? Yeah, a special inbreed.

  18. “and West Virginians are a special breed”
    You know, you just completely opened the floodgates for incest jokes with that line.

  19. Replace inbred with unempleyed and WVU with MSU and we have last years tournament all over again. Only less people care this time.

  20. It was only a natural progression that “Coach” Huggins returned home to his roots,….After all while the head coach at the University of Cincinnati, roughly 30 percent of his players graduated, this was from 1989-2005….Of course he accepted the 3 million dollar buyout….He realized that at WVU they can’t spell graduation much less accomplish it……..So thanks coach for being our own homegrown dirtbag……We will wear our idiotic coon skip caps in your honor….

  21. Wow. Funny how your lofty ethical standards are lowered when you’re covering your favorite team. At what point did Bob Huggins escape your Turd Watch? Before of after he vomited on the police officer during in his DUI arrest? Or just when he took the job in West Virginia?

  22. How many players on the WVU team are actually from West Virginia?
    So much for being a “special breed” Florio.

  23. Florio says: “providing the moment at which we can look in the faces of those from other states who resort to easy jokes about bare feet, missing teeth, and/or incest, smile at them, and say, “‘How do you like our trophy?'”
    You left out the part about playing the banjo in overalls on your porch while drinking moonshine.
    And, just wondering, is the state of West Virginia proud of coach Bob Huggins? Here is a little about his time with Cincinnati. The source is Kevin McNeill at collegehoopsnet.com.
    “Coach Huggins was forced to resign from the University of Cincinnati after 16 seasons in August 2005. Not for lack of wins, but in University President Nancy Zimpher’s words, a lack of character.
    In all, according to the University of Cincinnati, there had been no less than 21 players under Coach Huggins who have had, to use their term, “significant encounters with law enforcement.” These “encounters” included arrests for domestic violence, rape and DUI. One guy even punched a police horse. Another, Donald Little, taped his roommate to a lawn chair, threw weights at his head, clubbed him with a whiskey bottle and burned him with a heated coat hanger. He then stabbed him for good measure.
    Even after his contract was not extended in May 2005, and Huggins was considered to be on probation by the university, he still saw an incoming player charged with statutory rape, less than a month after forward Roy Bright was arrested for bringing a concealed weapon on campus.
    As for academics, 27 of 95 Huggins’ players graduated from Cincinnati or another university in his 16 years. That’s a 28% graduation rate overall, including those students who transferred. Huggins also had four seasons where the NCAA reported the Cincinnati men’s basketball graduation rate to be zero. Even at the time Huggins was forced to resign, again according to university officials, one of his players had been maintaining a 0.0 GPA, and another would have had a 0.0 if not for two incompletes.
    Finally, Cincinnati was placed on probation by the NCAA in 1998, citing a lack of institutional control.”
    Has Huggins suddenly changed his ways? Or did he develop WVU into a national power by bringing in the thugs and illiterates that other programs wouldn’t take?

  24. I’m glad the people of West Virginia can find time to support the WVU basketball team in between angioplasty’s and Big Macs.

  25. Seems that NBC shoulkd be running these pieces over on its CBT or whatever site they dreamed up for college basketball…on this site it seems pure dribble…

  26. Ok, here’s the G rated version-
    DoomsDayD75, Reid, TryTheVeal, Jim, dead money, Rothlestool, etc. GO F*** YOURSELVES. You’re all pretty mouthy sitting behind your keyboard, but you better make sure there’s not a West Virginian around when you spew your IGNORANT S***, or you’ll end up FLAT ON YOUR A**. You sorry a** computer pecking geeks don’t have the b***s.
    Like they say, too bad ignorance isn’t painful…

  27. West Virginia had the guts to split from Virginia when it mattered most.
    I love the South though. Their motto is “No child left ahead”. Something about being overfed.

  28. The Saints inspiring a community that’s still reeling from Katrina, and WVU hoops inspiring a community trying to overcome missing teeth/incest jokes … yep, pretty much the same thing.

  29. Chuck……..just be glad one of your illegitimate children wasn’t anywhere near the wonderful coach Huggins when he went on his drink driving recruiting trip……….then again he could have killed you and no one would have noticed

  30. Tell you what, go to a WV coal miner’s meeting, read them this crap, then tell ’em to get a grip. Then, get back on here and tell us all how it went…

  31. Hey Chuck M,
    I am a Mountaineer fan, FROM West Virginia! What I meant to say is that Huntington DOES NOT support us simply because of Marshall. Plus, Huntington is the most obese city in America.
    So, I hope you die from all the fire you spew out.

  32. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Chuck M is F’ing hilarious!!! “Der! Youse guys sere is powieful behind yer computies! I’m definitely way more powieful behin mine! I’m so powieful I’ll threaten to shoot you. Then I’ll get my uncle/daddy/grampa tuh do an orgy with mah sister, an git sum more kin.” O yea Chuck M, u are definitely inbred! LOL!!! WV doesnt stand a chance

  33. huggins players have just about the worst possible graduation ratio known to mankind.
    now im a WV fan and this guy is what it takes to make me feel full of pride for my university?
    thats pretty sad Florio. Huggins is Rich Rodriguez.you just dont see it coming,yet.

  34. Wow, what an enormous double standard from Florio. We watch you take cheap shots from your moral high ground, see you overscrutinize the character of any player or coach that finds themselves in the news, and beat minor ethical infractions like a dead horse, all on a daily basis. And here you have the nerve to write this sugary manifesto about, of all things, a college BASKETBALL program whose coach is a far worse person that most of the figures you publicly flog here every day.
    This site posts story upon story about things like how horrible it is that Urban Meyer never changed Tim Tebow’s throwing motion, how Bill Parcells contracdicts his “thugs and hoodlums” edict, and how Josh McDaniels acts like an inept child, and NONE of those transgressions come close to the rotten character of Bob Huggins. Your feel-good portrayl of the WVU program completely ignores how selfish, irresponsible, classless, and thick-headed this man has been for YEARS. It’s touching that he wants to bring a sense of civic pride to your beloved state, but that’s just about the only positive thing that anyone may ever find to say about him. If you treated him like everyone else you write about, you’d have him burning in hell for all of eternity.
    This ridiculous act of giving Bob Huggins a pass has permanently tarnished your credibility in my eyes, Florio. Huggins is one of the worst examples of a college coach on so many different levels, and I am disappointed that you turn a blind eye to all of it simply because he’s coahing your school.

  35. While proud of my state and team, I won’t compare it to post-Katrina New Orleans, other than the fact that a sports team has the ability to unify disparate people and give them a point of focus and pride when things aren’t going well otherwise. That’s true anytime and anywhere, but it’s more noticeable in bad times and distressed areas.
    I don’t argue with the people that say this doesn’t belong on a pro football site. I don’t argue that there is a contingent of our fanbase that embarrases me, and whether you believe it or not, the majority of WV fans. You can believe that it’s all our fanbase, I really don’t care- we know differently, but I also understand the perception. The acts of a handful of idiots are certainly understandably memorable and visible.
    This however i will argue, brasho.
    brasho says: March 28, 2010 12:46 PM
    As a native Virginian, I am still embarrassed and apalled that the state of West Virginia shares our name. The Virginia/West Virginia split-up was for good reason and the two states couldn’t have gone in more different directions.
    On another note, didn’t Jerry West bring West Virginia into the limelight nearly 50 years ago? John Denver’s song? Randy Moss recently? Nah, it would take an act of God to make the Toofless State to come into relevance.
    This good reason of which you speak? I assume you speak of slavery? You decided to leave the union to keep your lifestyle. You didn’t seperate from us because you were so superior, we seperated from you when the choice was staying with you or staying with the union. (And yes, I know there were many other factors involved, but that’s not for here.) Yes, it’s a shock that the region with all the coastline, the farmland, and the prime property that was first choice among the colonists has fared better than the area with 85% of its land vertical, settled by people who came here to be Americans, not to get rich. They settled in the only place that they could afford and worked at a subsistance level to get by. There was no “old money” here, never was. An area where the best and brightest have had to leave for years to ensure a better future for their children, and I don’t blame them. Some of us chose to stay and make things better here, understanding that it’s an uphill battle, but we never begrudge the people that leave, and they never stop thinking of themselves as West Virginians. That’s neither here nor there though. A successful nation needs the type of people that you THINK you are, and the kind of people that most of us are. Personally, I wish we had taken Vandalia(ugh) or one of the other name options when we split also, not due to any dislike for Virginia, but for our own identity.
    I don’t think any less of the current residents of Virginia, but I don’t think they’re any better than I am, just as I don’t think I am any better than they or anyone else, for that matter. Thinking you’re superior due to only to where you had the fortune to be born…well…’nuff said. Now had you personally done something to create the situation, I would applaud that, but looking at the structure and spelling in your last sentence tells me that maybe you haven’t taken full advantage of the educational opportunities your superior state offered to you. Nah, it would take an act of God to make the Toofless State to come into relevance. Really? Toofless? …to make…to come?
    I don’t pretend WV is a shining beacon that the rest of the states are striving to become, but it’s my state, and I love it. I think everyone should love their homes….but people like Brasho make my brain sad…wherever they may be from…

  36. Question: What is a Western Virginians favourite hollieday?….. A: Halloweenie, cuz they like to pump kin!

  37. It’s that ‘special breeding’ that gives the basketball team an unfair advantage: six fingers on both hands gives them better ball handling skills.

  38. What self-indulgent crap. Speaking of Rodrigez, nice you guys could stop burning couches long enough to send him him death threats. But keep patting yourself on the back, Florio.

  39. It’s a close comparison… except that I don’t think rampant toothlessness is a disaster quite on the level of Katrina.

  40. Greg: Yes to the part where one had the luck to be born.
    Like I said before, WV had the guts to split from VA when it mattered most.

  41. Florio…
    with the hypocrisy…
    you’re column posts stories of biased reporters (Thank You for calling them out)…
    then you go and do the same thing?!?
    a smartsy line within a story without an overstretched segue is one thing, but this dedicated puff piece stuff makes me lose the faith that someone can actually do some objective reporting…

  42. Grew up in WV and lived all over the US… CA, TX, IL, AZ, MI, OH, MD,VA, and traveled to most all the others for long periods of time for work. They all have their own issues. I’d argue none short of maybe Texas have the pride in their state that WV has. And i don’t care what any of you have to say about it becuase I’ve lived it and seen it for myself. It’s why I came back here to live. To all you haters… keep hatin. Who give a shit. We’re goin to cut down the nets in INDY. Let’s go Mountaineers!!!!!

  43. West VA is so bad Ben will not go there to pick up college girls
    West Va the only state in the nation where after you split with your wife your still kin
    West Va americas trash dump
    Dental School went out of business in West Va when they say tooth brush they mean a brush for the tooth

  44. All you West Virginians calm down, take a nice Sunday Evening Drive and find your evening vittals on the side of the road. Fess Parker just passed away, who has dibbs on the innards of his coon-skin cap.

  45. Your article tonight is wrong..Bob Huggins did not grow up in West Va. He was born in West Va but grew up in Gnadenhutten, Ohio where he was a star member of his Dad’s HS basketball team in 1972 when the team became Ohio state BB champions. He attended Ohio University at Athens, Ohio as a freshman and then transferred to W Va to complete his college career.
    ….The Brickmaker

  46. Won’t it be tough to say “How do you like our trophy” with the missing teeth?

  47. Reading these responses makes me laugh my head off. Shows how stupid people from other states are. I read responses about meth labs-so what are you some some kind of unempoyed, uneducated crack head to know so much about meth labs? I read that the WVU team is garbage. Well Mr Sports, I hate to inform you but this “garbage” team won the big east and is headed to the final four. I read jokes about road kill-ha ha that is so funny-you are too stupid to realize your jokes are just that-stupid. Even have idiots posting that they would rather shoot themself than live in West Virginia. I have a gun if you would like to borrow it to blow your ignorant head off!

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