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Chuck Landon: MU, WVU do little to improve the mood

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A study was published recently by the folks at the Gallup Poll, revealing West Virginia as the saddest state in America.

Wow, stop the presses.

Allow me to add to this study that Huntington has wide avenues and a beautiful resource named Ritter Park, Morgantown is built on hills, Parkersburg is located on the Ohio River, Wheeling resembles a mini Pittsburgh and Beckley gets a lot of snow.

My revelations are just about as startling as the Gallup Poll's conclusions.

Of course, we're sad, you condescending dolts.

Since the Mountain State doesn't have any professional sports teams within its borders, the 1,855,413 residents are divided mostly between cheering for West Virginia University and Marshall University athletics.

And Gallup is wondering why we're sad?

Geez, pollsters, do a little research on what happened during the 2012-13 basketball and football seasons and you'll understand why there's no joy in Mudville, W.Va.

When the football season began, WVU was expected to be a legitimate contender for the national championship. And WVU did indeed get off to a great start by winning its first five games. But on the heels of that winning streak was a five-game losing streak. It was a free-fall of unparalleled dimensions, culminating with a humiliating 36-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Mountaineers finished with an extremely dissatisfying 7-6 record, including a 4-5 mark in the Big 12.

Meanwhile, Marshall was faring even poorer. The worst defense in the nation led to a disastrous 5-7 season and wide-spread discontent.

So, collectively, WVU and Marshall's fans looked forward to basketball season. But, instead, that merely heaped insult on West Virginians' already injured psyche.

The Mountaineers had their first losing season since 2002-03, finishing an inglorious 13-19 overall and 6-12 in the Big 12. WVU didn't get an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2007. And heralded coach Bob Huggins suffered his first losing season since 1980-81.

Can it get any worse than that?

No, but Marshall managed to match WVU's futility. After a pair of 20-win seasons, third-year Herd coach Tom Herrion was expected to have his best year. Instead, he had his worst.

Exactly like WVU, Marshall turned in a very dissatisfying 13-19 record and, again like the Mountaineers, lost in the first-round of its conference tournament.

So, I ask you, Gallup pollsters, just exactly what are West Virginians supposed to be happy about?

Perhaps, there never ever have been higher expectations for West Virginia's only two Football Bowl Subdivision programs during the same year in state history. As a result, there never ever has been more wide-spread disappointment throughout the state.

Then, along came basketball season, which was supposed to be a salve for our football wounds. Instead, it was salt.

Sure, there are other reasons West Virginians are sad. The list includes unemployment, the declining coal industry, poor educational system, growing drug-abuse and the worst over-crowded prison problem in the nation.

That's why we need Marshall and WVU athletics to give us something to look forward to and take our minds off our other worries. But this year, the Herd and Mountaineers just added to our woes like never before.

Is it any wonder West Virginia is sad?

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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