It's a shame that Da'Sean Butler had to spend even an instant of his postgame comments saying this: "It shows people outside our state that we don't have class. That's not what we're about as a team or a state. It gives us a bad name." It's a shame that he's exactly right.
From what I've read so far, the Pittsburgh sportswriters have been relatively understanding, blaming just a minority of WVU students. Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon was particularly magnanimous.
But our students shouldn't get a pass. I'm just an alum. But I'm one who is tired of making excuses for our students, and tired of being embarrassed by them.
I don't want WVU students to lose their good seating or be penalized. I just want them to stop being so juvenile and so vulgar, and stop making WVU look so bad. I'm not a prude. I can drop f-bombs like a pro in private conversations. But I try to not have my public behavior embarrass my family.
The Pitt game wasn't an aberration. The chants in the Ohio State game and the Louisville game were just as bad. Student behavior at the football games is bad, too, just maybe not so noticeable. I'm tired of seeing turned-over garbage cans in the parking lots after the football games, too, but that's a pretty accurate visual representation of the reputation our students are giving our -- and their -- university.
I don't for an instant believe that the problems are the fault of visiting fans or nonstudents. The problem begins and ends with the WVU students who attend the games.
How do we solve it? Well, first, "we" can't. It's up to the students. WVU administrators can email and talk until they're blue in the face, and it will do no good. The University and the conference can do public service ads about respect all they want, and they'll do no good.
I think there's only one person who can sufficiently influence the students to clean up their act: Bob Huggins. Maybe they'll listen to him if he's direct and uses his coach voice.
So here's my suggestion. I think Coach Huggins should make a public statement to the student body, by email or through the B&G News or through the DA, or all of those. And he should repeat it in a public service announcement to be broadcast on the video board before every game. And he shouldn't be kind and gentle in it, as he is in the current one shown before games. He needs to be brutally straightforward and keep it simple. Here's what I think he should say:
"This is Huggstown. This is WVU. This is what I and the team and the University want from you:
"Number 1. Don't throw things.
"Number 2. Don't yell profanities.
"Number 3. Don't chant things that embarrass us.
"Thanks and enjoy the game. Let's Go Mountaineers."
Would that help? I don't know. Coach Huggins, if you’re reading this, please consider doing that.
Our students may be intractable. I was a student once, way back when we thought chanting "Beat the hell outta Pitt" was getting away with something. We knew it annoyed some old alums. But we were nothing compared to today's students.
Hey, I love it when the students chant something clever. Chanting "N-I-T, N-I-T" near the end of the Pitt game is a perfect example. The "staying classy" tee-shirts were clever, too. But crass cancels clever.
The fact that Da'Sean Butler, one of the best players we've ever had, needed to apologize for our students in his postgame remarks to the press is ridiculous. The chants coming from the student section in the past three games, to say nothing of the physical things that were thrown during the Pitt game, have been over the line. Hey, if you students wanted to embarrass us, and embarrass our university, you succeeded.
Maybe if Coach Huggins yells at you, you'll quit it. I hope so.
And one more thing. The "Eat S--- Pitt" chant has to go, too. It’s stale and needs to be retired. It's part of the problem. It needs to be replaced with the simple "Beat Pitt."
The current student body needs to solve the problem. I wish you luck, but doubt that you can. It's too bad that you'll eventually lose your student section or have to pay for tickets separately from your student fees.
Let’s Go Mountaineers.
Mr. Todd is a West Virginia University alumnus and long time supporter of all things Mountaineer.