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If I Were To Write An Open Letter On Mountaineer Football, This Is What It Would Sound Like

Dear Coach Stewart, Mr. Pastilong, President Clements, and Distinguished Members of the Board of Governors:

I am a West Virginia Mountaineer.

I say that first and foremost, simply because of the newest campaign by the university requesting that people, "Be A Mountaineer."  I fit that description.  I am a two-time graduate of this university.  I attend home games.  I attend road games.  I come early.  I stay late.  I sing Country Roads until my voice is gone.  Most weeks, I live and die by the outcomes of West Virginia University athletics.

I am also an optimist at heart.  Since I became a Mountaineer fan at a very young age, I always tried to see the best in my Mountaineers.  I saw victory when all others saw defeat.  Often, they were right and I was wrong, but I would rather be optimistic about my state's team and be wrong then to lose hope entirely.

Unfortunately, that has lately become an increasingly burdensome task.  The current state of our football team exists at a level below most fans' expectations.  I understand that football is often cyclical, and it is very difficult to maintain a position at the pinnacle with schools of much larger enrollments, fan bases, and television contracts.  But suddenly, the hope of a bright future for Mountaineer football has been dented, both by results on the field and a polluted sense of mediocrity from the football and athletic staff.

Across town, at the Coliseum, we find a coach who will settle for nothing less than perfection and national titles.  He reassures us in losses, making the fan base know that he expects, nay demands, better.  He often reassures us in wins, too, as not all wins are created equal.  From the Puskar Center, however, we hear talk nearly devoid of the same ambition.  Once one win away from a national championship game appearance, we are now forced to settle for middle-of-the-pack results.  When questioned, there is defensive behavior and tired excuses, neither of which are doing anything to satisfy a growing group of disillusioned fans.  Wins are good enough, and when those wins don't happen, we are simply left to deal with the losses by our lonesome.

All of us understand that there will be losses.  What we as fans are looking for is a leader who assures us that everything is being done to avoid those losses.  That happens at the Coliseum -- it does not happen at the Puskar Center.  While I appreciate and applaud the congeniality of this staff, manners and a pleasant demeanor aren't enough.  We need wins.  And even if there aren't wins, we need to be convinced that wins are coming (through both improved play and improved coaching).  That isn't happening, and doesn't look to happen in the near future.

In closing, I don't have a neat, packaged solution to this problem.  If change was to be made, a large buyout clause makes said change very expensive.  The existence of that buyout clause -- of which we have never heard an explanation -- contributes mightily to this problem.  And although it would cost West Virginia University a lot of money to make a change, it might be money saved considering the plummeting future of its football program.

I don't wish that change today, but change may become necessary in the coming months.  I only hope my university is willing to accept that fact.



One Of Many Concerned Fans