I never followed college football before I became a Mountaineer just a few weeks ago.
The Jesuits banned collegiate athletics decades before I attended my own alma mater. And Long Island, where I grew up, has no great college-football traditions like in the Midwest, the South, the West… pretty much everyplace else.
My wife has no background in football save for accompanying me to Saints games for all these years. This season, she’s delving a bit deeper into the game, its rules and pacing, the interplay between power and grace.
So after sending our oldest child to Appalachian State University a couple months ago, my wife and I decided to become Mountaineer football fans, a bit of a bandwagon move because the team has been awesome since long before we came along, but legit enough.
It should be noted that our son, who is an actual Mountaineer, has absolutely no interest in his school’s football team. He came back to Greensboro on homecoming weekend to see a punk-rock show.
And so we drove up to Big Al’s cabin through the rain on Friday night and awoke to a perfect Boone morning: cold, clear and bright.
We suited up in our Mountaineer gear — so much cheaper than its NFL counterpart — and hit the tailgate lot where our Greensboro friends, both alums, hold a strategic parking spot along with a passel of season tickets. At gametime we climbed the concrete bleachers of Kidd Brewer Stadium and watched our team mow through the Georgia State University Panthers like they were standing still.
While QB Zac Thomas threw for nearly 300 yards and sophomore Darrynton Evans rushed for more than 125, we learned the chants and hand-signals of the hometown crowd. We thrilled when junior Desmond Franklin made his third-quarter pick-6. And we left a little early when it looked like a blowout, though we could hear the cheers from the stadium all across the campus.
Now our Mountaineers are looking at a bowl bid — talk in the tailgate section is of the New Orleans Bowl, whatever that is, after a big turnout for Saturday’s game against Sun Belt rivals Troy University. A Mountaineer win would put them tied for first in the regular season, going into the championship on Dec. 1.
It’s a great time to be a Mountaineer.
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