Hello. As the summer drags on into August and the Virginia sun slowly cooks my grass to a lovely crisp brown, I start to sense a change in the air. When the annual solar eclipse comes and goes and we finally get sick of eating barbecue1, that's when I know; football season is right around the corner! And what better way to start the season than by playing in the seventh circle of hell against a fanbase that greets opponents with profanity, fists, urine, batteries, and the acrid smell of burning upholstery.
Be honest, who didn't miss spending time with this guy?
1. Oh, phew, for a second I thought Tech was playing at Maryland.
A. No, they're a little too B1G time. The Hokies are traveling to Raljon, MD to take on semi-contrived rival, the Mountaineers of West Virginia University in the giant vacuum that Dan Snyder uses to suck money and souls out of Washington sports fans. I sure hope Whit Babcock is getting paid, because I'm not sure what other reason you subject the fan base to the twin dooms of West Virginia fans and FedExField.
2. Well, aren't you just full of peaches and sunshine today.
A. Actually, I am! Because I'll be enjoying this particular game from the comforts of the Fuller Compound. To ensure I get the full game day experience, win or lose, postgame I plan on burning the couch from my daughter's dollhouse while drinking everclear and screaming profanity at my cats2.
3. So, a typical Sunday night. Can you tell me a little bit about the opponent?
A. Of course! WVU sits in Morgantown, named for the son of Morgan Morgan, which is such an exceedingly Welsh name that it almost redeems the town. Almost. Morgan's son Zackquill3 founded the town around the nearby developing coal mines and it soon prospered. The well paying mining jobs drew men from all over the new United States and abroad, including a sizable contingent from as far away as the mining communities outside what is currently known as Istanbul.
Well, when mines prosper, generally the miners see a fraction of that and the owners see the lion's share. All that excess cash means the owners start blowing it on superfluous stuff, like plates made of silver, silverware made of gold, elaborately booby trapped houses and Brazilian prostitutes. But when you've got that much money, you want to be able to have things that no one else has. And one particular owner became obsessed with furniture.
The obsession became so great that a portion of the town was wholly turned over to a massive workshop, furniture craftsmen from North Carolina were brought in, showered with money and told to design something innovative and unique. A couple of examples include:
How the hell are you supposed to sit on that? Is that chair melting?
But the owner wasn't happy. Sure, this stuff was weird as hell, but it wasn't enough. He needed something more. So they went back to their workshops and bent over their design tables. Here's what they came up with.
Originally they trained the sheep to sit like that for hours on end. Then they stuffed them.
That looks just like a regular couch with weird...wait, are those VAGI-
Annnnnnnnyway, that still wasn't enough. The craftsmen pulled in the other men to help come up with ideas, and the workshops eventually turned into a type of school. In order to keep themselves funded while they worked on the owner's request, who refused to pay until they met his demand, they grabbed the federal money on offer when the Morrill Land-Grant Act was enacted, passing themselves off as an engineering school. Finally, some of those fellows from near Istanbul landed on the answer.
I'd pay, like, $532,000 for that, probably.
They called it the ottoman, appropriately after the empire from which they were from. It was kind of neat looking, unique, foreign sounding, nearly useless, and according to the Turks, insanely expensive, which is just the kind of things fabulously wealthy people love. So the owner bought two for every room in his house. The Turks made an absolute fortune and retired back to their own country where, of course, the ottoman was a fairly commonplace piece of furniture, and had been for centuries. The furniture makers were quietly making more ottomans on the side and selling them to furniture stores in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia. But how is some schlub in West Virginia ever going to know?
Well, years later, the owner was on a grand world tour, because he still had obscene amounts of money. He stopped in Istanbul and was shocked to discover that his expensively unique furniture was not unique or, in reality, very expensive. He flew into a rage, returned back to Morgantown and pulled every single ottoman out of his house AND out of the workshops, stacked them up in the middle of town and burned them all, threatening to do the same to the furniture craftsmen. It became an annual fall tradition to raid all the houses in town, pull out offensive furniture and burn it, as a middle finger to the Ottoman Empire.
4. So this entire tradition is based off some backwoods Mr. Magoo version of the Rockefellers getting pissed off?
A. Yup. Students have largely forgotten where this tradition came from and burn stuff because they're bored and Everclear is a little too easy to get in Morgantown. But, yeah.
5. So they built an entire school around the ottoman.
A. Yes. Anyway, once the whole furniture debacle was over, they actually had to start teaching stuff. And they quickly realized that the area they had been teaching classes in was too small, and they had no room to expand because it was surrounded by acres of discarded, ugly furniture. So they had to start building the rest of campus several miles away in a completely different part of Morgantown. And this worked, for a while, until they were finally accredited as teaching above a 4th grade level in the 1960s and the influx of students from around West Virginia swelled the student population enough to necessitate a third campus. In the same town. Yes, in one of the most sparsely populated states in the country, they couldn't find enough space to build a single campus, or even two. They needed THREE.
Needless to say, trying to move thousands of people who had yet to even qualify for a WVU degree between three campuses was logistically impossible. So, they once again conned the Federal government, this time the newly minted Department of Transportation, to pay for a sprawling short err rail system to cart the students around.
After the first few rail cars were torched, they had to take the benches out.
6. Do they football?
A. They do! Moderately well, at times. They have an approach to football diametrically opposed to a Hokies'; they believe in scoring as many points as humanly possible and are generally indifferent to defense. Historically, they were an up and down (mostly down) mediocre team, but started winning conference championships in the famed Southern Conference in the 50s and 60s. Coincidentally, this is after all the SEC teams left in the 30s and right after all the ACC teams left in 1953. They were sorta good in the 1970s, just enough so that Florida State would come in and steal their head coach, Bobby Bowden, in 1975.
Then Don Nehlen came in. And took them to previously unseen heights, like blowing an undefeated season to Lou Holtz and Notre Dame in the 80s, then blowing another undefeated season to Virginia Tech the next year. The BEST part is the 1993 season. The 'Eers went undefeated in the regular season, but Florida State and their old coach Bobby Bowden, at 11-1, were picked ahead of them to go to the Orange Bowl and eventually win the national championship.
7. Ouch. That's gotta sting.
A. Oh yeah. Incidentally, the 'Eers went to the Sugar Bowl and got bent over and paddled by Florida, 41-7. Since that 1993 season, they did a whole lotta nothing, until (again) all the good teams left their conference, THEN they started winning conference championships again, against the feared powers of Rutgers and UConn. They had the Rich Rodriguez era; you know, the guy that was supposed to replace Beamer the last five or six years Beamer coached. Then they had an interim coach for four years, Bill Stewart, who became a lame duck head coach when his new offensive coordinator was hired for him and announced as his successor once the upcoming season was completed. And that man and his flowing locks, Dana Holgorsen, is who Tech will face Sunday night.
I don't care what you say, that man is embracing his adopted home through his hair.
8. So they just have to wait until Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big XII, then they can start winning conference championships again?
9. Are they any good?
A. Meh. After Miami and Tech left the Big East for the ACC and everyone started playing musical conferences, WVU eventually joined the Big XII, becoming the 10th team and the only team east of the Mississippi, their geographically closest rival being Iowa State. They went 10-3 last year, losing to all the good teams they played. They're ranked, but probably only so the prime time Sunday night matchup features two ranked teams4.
10. That's mean. Do they have players?
A. Only the greatest college football player EVAR, quarterback Will Grier, who will probably set an NCAA record for awesomeness on Sunday, only to break it every week the rest of the season. In Will's shadow they've got Chase Behrndt, who holds the West Virginia record for most consecutive consonants in his name, and Deamonte Lindsay, who was named after a Mitsubishi. Also, they've got a dude in witness protection whose real name is definitely the not-made up Stone Wolfley. Inspired by his coach, I present Henry Cook, who is taking a break from writing his fantasy novel series to play football.
The book's going to be great, it's got an alien on the cover with three tits.
There's also Anthony Delpercio, whose picture has to be a bad joke.
Nobody looks that way unless they lost a bet, right?
And finally, Tyler Thurmond, who is really Russell Brand in hiding because he ate Katy Perry (and a grateful nation thanks him).
I would love to see how an Englishman is welcomed in Morgantown.
11. Do they have any Fullers?
A. Hahahahaha, like any Fuller would ever go to school at WVU. Mama Fuller didn't raise no fools. They DO have a few sets of brothers, like Jordan and Jacquez Adams and Jonah and Shea Campbell. But my favorites are Chris and Mitch Chugunov, who sound like the main characters in a bad Animal House knock off.
12. Any interesting alumni?
A. Well, they've got Jerry West, the guy in the NBA logo. They blessed the world with the Bowden brothers, who both proved how easy it is to fail upwards when your daddy is really good at the job you have. But I think WVU is embodied best by Don Knotts, specifically his famous portrayal of Barney Fife, and John Laidley, who was born in Morgantown but hated it so much he left to found Marshall University.
Also, they've got that asshat Gordon Gee back as president of the university, so if you want to know if they respect anyone or anything, I have previously covered Gee here.
13. Any cool football related traditions?
A. Their big pre-game song is by John Denver, which, I guess if you have a choice between that and Metallica, it's really not a choice, is it? They also have a mascot that has to carry a gun, because he cannot win fights without it. And when you really get down to it, if you have a choice between a musket and a cannon, it's really not a choice, is it? They also do a pregame walk called the "Mountaineer Mantrip"5 that equates walking to a stadium between a bunch of cheering fans to walking into a coal mine, which...okay?
Oh, and their fans throw batteries and bottles filled with urine at opposing fans and attempt to overturn buses from their opponent's school. It is unclear if these activities are officially sanctioned by the university, although the recent advent of alcohol sales within the stadium leads me to believe they are at least encouraged.
14. Do they have rivalries?
A. Their two biggest rivals are Pitt and Maryland, so...that about sums up WVU. The Pitt rivalry is also known as the Backyard Brawl because due to the heinous leftover furniture everywhere, the only room they had in Morgantown to play was the super rich guy's yard. To be frank6, despite their whiny clown of a head coach, Pitt fans are relatively normal, and since Pitt ditched WVU for the ACC in 2011, they juuuuuust haven't seemed to be able to find the time to get WVU back on the schedule until at least 2022. Really a shame. No projectile battery related injuries in all this time, what are the ER doctors to do?
For Maryland, this is truly a meeting of kindred fanbases that never met a piece of furniture they didn't want to torch or an opposing fan they didn't want to assault. I thought this rivalry had a name, like Border War, but nah, it's not even interesting enough to merit a contrived name. Nothing interesting has ever really happened, other than the fact that they had a rematch in the Gator Bowl in 2004, with Maryland winning both games by a combined score of 75-14. Maryland has also conveniently been unable to find the time to schedule more games, at least until 2020.
Honestly, the rivalry they have with Virginia Tech seems a bit forced. Both schools have much bigger (and closer) natural rivals. They haven't actually played all that much historically, and although there were several good games since things really got rolling in the 70s and 80s, highlighted by the Miracle in Morgantown, since each went their separate conference ways, nobody seems too interested in getting it back as an annual game. Honestly, I feel like the only reason Hokies feel anything towards this rivalry is because of the WVU fans, who, if you haven't gathered, are the worst. If their fans weren't terrible, it would be just like playing Boston College. Wait...no, that's if they didn't have any fans.
15. Is eating recommended in Morgantown?
A. No. I strongly recommend against traveling to Morgantown for a football game, or ever, really. Seriously. Also, the game is in Maryland, in Dan Snyder's giant stank armpit, so definitely don't go this weekend. But if you do, never fear; I have traveled this road on your behalf and shall guide you if you do not heed my advice7. For food, Dirty Bird seems to be popular. Jeremy Lee gives it this ringing endorsement:
The place really provides a great experience with the great staff and great food, but I'd pick KFC over this place any day
Sorry, Jeremy's opinion is immediately invalidated since he recommended eating at KFC over anywhere that isn't a dumpster. Let's move on to Lydine:
The food is so delicious! Everyone is so nice, they remember their customers and always make you feel welcome! I have never see them not wash their hands or eat while I was there. Best chicken in Morgantown!
Uh, that's not suspect. Lydine doth protest too much. It's like the guy that gets nabbed on suspected robbery and says he had nothing to do with it and DEFINITELY didn't have anything to do with that other guy that got murdered last week. Nope, nothing to see here, folks, definitely NO health code violations.
16. I hesitate to ask about the barbecue...
A. And you should! The best I could come up with is Woodburn Shanks Pit BBQ and let's start off with a review from Amie:
This was my 2nd visit to Woodburn, the first go around I got the pulled pork and it was decent it was really dry but okay with LOTS OF BBQ SAUCE. I hadn't been back in months went today to try it again got the Brisket and so disappointed. It is nothing but fat, its slimy and cold.
Ah. I believe we've covered this before, but if it only tips the scales at "okay" with lots of sauce, it's not okay. If it can't hold its own dry, go somewhere else. And I don't even want to know about the slimy. Secondly, let's hear from April Denning:
Edible but that's all. VERY disappointed. I read reviews from others who claim this is real "Texas style" barbecue, but the food here was definitely not made by anyone who knows Texas barbecue or anything about Cajun food either. I am from southeast Texas and have decided decent barbecue doesn't exist in Morgantown.
So, I checked in on April. She seems like she'd be real fun at parties. She reviewed every single barbecue joint in town and poopooed them all. Hey April, aside from the fact that it's super obnoxious to gush about where you're from and how that makes you an EXPERT on barbecue and how everyone is inferior to anything that came out of Texas, why don't you make some yo damn self?
17. So, are FAINTs still a thing, even though Fullers haven't been on the roster in a couple of years?
A. THANKS FOR RUBBING IT IN. I've been thinking about this. I'm not sure it's going to matter this weekend, since Will Grier is so good at college football that the Hokies' DBs are all going to fall down every time he throws a perfectly placed spiral. However, as Joel will attest, 100% of the statistics you don't measure you'll just have to make up later, so let's get this party started off right. FAINTs ARE still a thing, and I reserve the right to designate any defensive player an honorary Fuller in order to skew my stats to make me look better. I predict that the Hokies' secondary will intercept only 56 more passes than Pacey will throw. Trying to keep expectations down this year.
18. What should we watch for this Sunday?
A. I'm watching for:
- Tim Settle is going to house a punt and then the world is immediately going to end and it'll be TOTALLY WORTH IT.
- Flying batteries.
- I hope Pacey ends up with Joey. Honestly, she's too good for Dawson.
- No moral victories. When trying to decide what's worse, UVA or WVU fans, it's like picking which leg you want cut off. Neither are good choices and I never want Tech to lose to either school again. Let's keep that streak going, please.
1If you ever get sick of eating barbecue, we're not friends.
2One thing I've learned from having cats is that it's possible to convey hate, disdain, and anger very effectively through non-verbal communication. Which is what I imagine playing for Bud Foster teaches you as well.
3If that name doesn't impress you, he had kids named Temperance, Horatio, Zadock, ANOTHER Zackquill, ANOTHER Morgan Morgan, Drusilla, and Uriah, which I thought was a type of tract infection.
4To avoid throwing stones in glass houses, that is likely a factor in why we're ranked as well
6Sigh. If only. All the Cookout shakes I could eat.
7I went for a wedding that was rudely scheduled for a fall Saturday (I heard Kam Chancellor's first interception on the radio). Also, we drove up and back the same day and I probably ate at Sheetz to get out of there as fast as possible.