Hey students: get out of the damn parking lot and into the stadium!
Now, I think that is no longer the case, or at least has been significantly diminished.
[Note: this was written notwithstanding the crowd against UConn. That crowd was extremely classy, but (somewhat understandably) lacked noise and ferocity until the final minutes. We can still do better.]
Crowds at Mountaineer Field were once loud and intimidating. But those crowds are gone, replaced by a completely lifeless bunch of people that I sometimes have trouble referring to as fans. We've taken a fantastic home-field advantage and squandered it. Relying on the Mountaineer players to inspire us instead of the other way around. When times get tough, we bitch and moan and complain. You think that's what the home team needs to hear? Of course not.
But, being ever the optimist, I think there's a way out of these doldrums. It won't be easy, but it can be done. Here are my proposed changes to return Mountaineer Field back to its rightful spot in the feared category:
- Take away at least one student section. Somewhere down the line, the students have become entirely too complacent with the entire game-day experience. Show up late, leave at halftime, with some never to come back -- it's just not the way to make a difference for your team. It also looks horrible on TV for a national audience. So, we need to shock them back into fan-hood. It's an easy first step -- simply take the one section on the West side ("Senior Spirit") and return it to season-ticket holders. That will increase demand from students and should, at least hopefully, put more pressure on them to actually put their ass in a seat (well, more accurately, their feet on a bleacher). If that's not enough, you take one of the lower bowl sections on the East side, and so on and so forth. Eventually, you'll get them back to being the rowdy, lively bunch that they once were.
- If that doesn't help, suspend pass-outs for students. Look, I like them as much as the next guy, and take advantage of them nearly every game, but too many students are leaving and not coming back. If you don't even give them the option of coming back in, less and less people will leave. I really don't want to treat our students like children, but drastic times call for drastic measures. Hey kids, just bring enough liquor in with you at the start to make it through the whole game.
- The love-affair with the video board needs to end. I understand it's purpose is to try to increase the overall fan experience, but it is doing that at the expense of the fan participation. College football is about the game on the field, the band, and the cheering fans. It's not about movie clips and stupid gags. When you rely on the video board, you take responsibility for cheering out of the hands of the fans. That needs to end. It's embarrassing when the band is trying to play and is overrun by the sound of Tom Green on the video board.
- Standing. I have heard every argument on both sides and there's just no way around this one. You need, need, need to stand at games. It creates more energy in the entire crowd. When you're sitting, it's much easier to sit and watch the game happen in front of you. When you're standing, it's much easier to become a part of the game, affecting outcomes with your noise and support. So, stand.
Those are my humble additions to a finding a solution to this problem. How do we enact them? Not completely sure, but your authors have thought about trying to start a fan movement to "take back Mountaineer Field." Whether it would do any good is hard to tell, but at least it'd be a start.
Hopefully, this post creates some healthy discussion and we can work towards an end of a better, louder, more intimidating Mountaineer Field.