Jared Wickerham - Getty Images
The student government in Morgantown seems to be concerned about couch burning. But should they be? And is an embarrassing YouTube video the right avenue to convey the message?
Couch burning has long been a tradition in Morgantown. Nobody knows how it got started, or who first had the brilliant idea to dispose of perfectly usable (*okay, maybe not that perfect or usable) living room furniture by setting it ablaze in the middle of a street to celebrate a big win. But it's been around for a while. And, for better or worse, it's been a memorable part of the celebrations after landmark victories like the upset of #3 Virginia Tech in 2003 and knocking off Bobby Knight's Texas Tech team in 2005 to advance to the Elite Eight. There's a certain nostalgia and ownership among WVU fans when it comes to celebratory pyres. It's what we do on the rare occasion that something awesome happens to our Mountaineers. It's part of who we are.
Look, I'm not necessarily advocating for the burning of couches or anything else. I was personally standing about 500 feet away when a student's vehicle was purposely tipped over into the middle of a street fire in the wake of the Texas Tech celebration. I don't think it takes a fully developed mind to realize that combining hundreds of students, a mob mentality, alcohol, and combustible materials is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. People can---and do---get hurt. Property gets destroyed. Heck, people were killed at a controlled (and I use that term loosely) bonfire prior to a Texas A&M game back in the mid-2000s. This stuff isn't safe.
But did we really need a PSA video from our student government to tell us that? And the video. Just...WATCH it. My goodness. Of all the embarrassing things that can find their way onto YouTube just by sheer accident, did you have to go and record that on purpose? There aren't enough facepalms in the world to account for the facepalm-ness I feel just being associated with the university that produced that thing. And, moreover, why now? Yes, we're playing our first Big XII game ever. Baylor is ranked. There's a national recording artist performing the anthem. This is a pretty big deal. But it's a noon game. And we're favored. I think we've won bigger games before. Like oh, say, 9 months ago? At this point, we've been there, done that. No couches are in danger this weekend.
I don't know how you feel about all this, but it just doesn't sit right with me. I think the SGA is making much ado about nothing. Have WVU students burnt couches in the past? Yes. Is it a bad idea? Probably. Has the university received some bad press about it (say nothing of the Kentucky students who were essentially praised for having great school spirit after they torched Lexington celebrating their national championship last March)? Absolutely. But in the end, couch burning is a private thing undertaken by private citizens, not a university-sanctioned event. And whatever the national media may say about it, couch burning is our thing. It means something here. We do it only on occasion, and only in celebration. So is it really that big of a problem that we have to go out of our way to make a cheesy video to discourage it?
Like I said before, no couches are in danger this weekend. Or any other weekend this fall. Or even if WVU wins another BCS bowl game. Or goes to the Final Four. We've done all that before, and we celebrated those victories rightfully, without burning Sunnyside to the ground. But if WVU ever wins a national championship in basketball or football, regardless of how old I am, I am going to find a used couch and delightfully set it ablaze in a safe place with all my closest friends around me, drinking moonshine, belting out Take Me Home, Country Roads as a tear runs gently down my cheek.