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Chuck Landon: Conduct of WVU fans worst in the nation

Sep. 29, 2011 @ 12:14 AM

Wait for it.

Five, four, three, two, one. ...

At this very moment, somewhere in America a West Virginia University apologist is claiming all fans are as rowdy, bawdy, undisciplined, unmannerly, obnoxious, obtrusive, malicious, malcontented, despicable and, yes, sometimes dangerous as the Mountaineer fan base.

That simply isn't true.

Also at this very moment, somewhere in America a WVU apologist is lamenting that 95 percent of Mountaineer supporters welcome opposing fans with warm hospitality, while the other 5 percent are giving all WVU followers a bad reputation.

That is true.

It simply doesn't matter.

Five percent of the 62,056 fans who attended WVU's 47-21 loss to LSU Saturday night in Morgantown would be 3,103 rabid fans running amuck.

That's a mob.

But it only took three of them to give WVU a national black eye that won't heal and a coast-to-coast scarlet letter that's indelible.

Just ask an LSU fan from Pittsburgh named Marcus Mason. When he regains consciousness, that is.

Mason and his wife, Hannah, along with another couple in their traveling party were assaulted late Saturday night in Morgantown, while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Purple Lot. Mason was beaten so severely, he was moved to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for surgery to repair injuries that included a fractured frontal bone in the middle of his forehead, a crushed eye socket and a broken nose.

His wife, who is 22 weeks pregnant, was knocked down and received bruises on her arms, legs and shoulders.

This entire incident is unconscionable.

When it is actually dangerous to attend a college football game, that's a clear indication of a fan base gone seriously awry.

That isn't just WVU's reputation, now it's a fact.

No amount of claims by apologists can contradict that. Actually, they never could. The denials always rang as hollow as the morality on aptly named High Street.

I know.

I have covered games all over the country and never ever witnessed fan behavior as deplorable as the conduct in Morgantown.

The list includes games at the University of Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.), Penn State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Clemson, Michigan State, Kansas State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Louisville, South Florida, Boston College, Cincinnati and Navy.

In all those many, many venues, I never encountered fan behavior anywhere near the level of misconduct that has become the norm at WVU home games.

It simply doesn't happen on such a regular basis anywhere else than Morgantown.

What is even worse is the WVU miscreants actually take pride in their misbehavior. They hurl obscenities. They sport profane T-shirts. They throw batteries, coins and beer bottles during games. They print and wear demeaning T-shirts, such as one emblazoned with the outline of the state of Louisiana and the words "Relying On FEMA Since 2005."

That reference to Hurricane Katrina is incredibly crass, crude and insensitive even by their bottom of the barrel standards.

Now, add assault to the resume.

How much worse does it have to get before WVU president James Clements gets involved? And just exactly what can he do? How does someone stop a mad dog from foaming at the mouth?

Those are tough questions.

Now, there needs to be some tough answers.

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




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