MORGANTOWN - For the most part, Dana Holgorsen remains largely unaffected by the moronic behavior that has come to define a generation of West Virginia University students as couch-burning simpletons whose higher education has obviously not yet taken root.Take Saturday night's Sunnyside fiasco, for example.Once again, while the vast majority of the school's 30,000 students merely basked in the glow and perhaps tipped a few in celebration of a pretty significant win by their football team over a like band from the University of Texas down in Austin, a few hundred more set what they seem to feel are the obligatory fires in the street.A few more surrounded cars trying to innocently navigate the neighborhood. And some decided the best reaction when - surprise! - police actually showed up to protect the citizenry was to throw rocks and bottles.
Ah, yes, just another football Saturday night in Morgantown, where the motto is "If you can beat 'em, burn it.'' Oh, and if you can't beat 'em, burn it then, too."I'll be honest with you. I don't know what hap-pened,'' Holgorsen, the second-year West Virginia football coach, said of the reported 40 fires and all the other lunacy that accompanied his team's 48-45 win over Texas some 1,400 miles away. "I heard there were riots and mace. I don't know why."I'm being honest with you. I'm pretty focused on what we're supposed to be doing. And even if I knew, what am I going to do about it? It's not my responsibility. I worry about what I can control. And what I could control was what was happening in Austin.''OK, so the "It's not my responsibility'' part of that is perhaps not what West Virginia administrators would like to hear from their football coach. I'm sure their take is that it is the responsibility of everyone associated with the university to do all that is possible to raise the level of decorum and responsibility of the student body.But we'll give Holgorsen a pass on that. After all, he's not the first football coach at WVU who has watched asinine behavior and felt powerless to deal with it. Those as far back as Bobby Bowden have preached restraint to no earthly good. And if arrests and expulsions and preaching from school presidents don't curb the mayhem, what good is a tongue-lashing from a football coach going to do?All Holgorsen can do is try to reason with the unreasonable and perhaps elevate their consciousness. It was one win in the middle of a football season."Was that a big win for the program? Yes,'' Holgorsen said. "Was it good for recruiting and branding and all the rest of that? Absolutely. Does it count as a championship? No. It counts as one win. It counts the same as Baylor did, which was the same as Marshall minus the conference standings."Our goal is to win the conference and those two wins were equal. There's no difference between the Texas win and the Baylor win.''Not that the Sunnyside denizens will take that to heart, mind you. There's simply a tradition of setting fires after big football wins in Morgantown. We all know that. It used to be quaint, perhaps a couch or two would be set ablaze. It was still dangerous and the police and fire departments still had to deal with it, but it was also far less frequent. Only the biggest of wins would spark - literally - a celebration.Now it's just about any win and often times a frustrating loss. And despite crackdowns by police and school officials - not to mention the prevalence of cell phone cameras recording it all - it just keeps getting worse, not better.
It's enough to make anyone with any sort of common sense - a trait obviously lacking among a small group of students - wonder, what are they thinking?"I don't understand what was so special about it,'' Holgorsen said. "[Unless] they were using that as some sort of an excuse to get rowdy.''Exactly. And the hope here is that there's enough video and photographic evidence to charge and expel a number of students sizeable enough to send a real message.And then perhaps more suitable celebrations can take place."If it had anything to do with some sort of a special win,'' Holgorsen said, "then I would encourage everybody involved to get used to wins like that.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.