Nationally-Recognized, Quality Local Journalism..

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to the Mountain State’s Trusted News Source.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

There is nothing wrong with social media.

When it’s sociable.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case in West Virginia recently.

As mind-boggling, as incredulous, as far-fetched as it sounds, fan bases for West Virginia University and Marshall University each managed to run starting quarterbacks out of town, out of state and out of reach by the end of the 2021 football season.

WVU fans made quarterback Jarret Doege’s life so miserable in Morgantown via social media, he announced his departure shortly after the Mountaineers lost their bowl game.

It came as no surprise.

That wasn’t the case with Marshall’s Grant Wells, however. On the surface, the third-year quarterback from Charleston seemed relatively happy.

Yet, according to sources, Wells told MU offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey after the season was over that he was thinking about going into the transfer portal. But then Wells announced he and his girlfriend had gotten engaged, so MU’s coaching staff thought everything was copacetic.

That wasn’t the case.

Wells stunned MU fans on Monday morning with a Twitter post announcing he was entering the transfer portal.

What was he thinking? Maybe it was this: “The tough part is the moment I throw an interception, they are going to be calling for Cole Pennington.”

That’s how profoundly social media had gotten into Wells’ head.

And it’s not difficult to see why it happened. Wells could walk into Fat Patty’s restaurant and hear patrons criticize him. Why, even Herd men’s basketball head coach Danny D’Antoni read the social-media diatribes against Wells.

“It was horrible,” said D’Antoni. “I don’t read social media during basketball season, but I read it during football. Some of the stuff people said about Grant was unbelievably bad. Those people aren’t Herd fans.”

As a result, Wells is reportedly headed to Virginia Tech, where he will be reunited with former Marshall assistant J.C. Price. That leaves MU with former walk-on Luke Zban and three incoming freshmen at quarterback.

Is this a surprise to MU head coach Charles Huff? Not completely. Yet, at the same time, MU didn’t have a plan to replace Wells. There is a strategy now, however. Look for the Herd to bring in a quarterback from the transfer portal next week and another one later in the offseason.

So, here we are, sports fans. The Mountain State has just two FBS programs. Yet the fan bases were so vicious, so venomous on social media, they managed to run off both starting quarterbacks.

What’s wrong with people these days?

Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

“I think social media is our best and worst invention in the last 25 years,” opined Huff. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to exchange opinions, ideas and voice information to spread quickly. But it’s also an opportunity for the minority to sound like the majority. What it has caused is the age group of kids that we deal with to validate themselves through 180 characters.

“That is what it has caused. I think we are adding to the issues of mental health. I think we are adding to the issues of low self-confidence. I think we’re adding to the issues that we see, not because the kids aren’t — quote, unquote — grown enough, mature enough to ignore it because we really don’t give them an outlet to ignore it.”

What are they going to do? Go out in the backyard and pass football or shoot hoops at the nearby grade school? Those days are long gone.

“Everything they do is on their [cell] phone,” pointed out Huff. “Everything they do is through social media. That’s how they communicate. That’s how they operate. That’s how they wake up.

“And I think we’ve just got to be careful that a [fan’s] statement after a game, after a few beers and on an emotional high, is not putting thoughts in kids’ minds about No. 1, themselves, and No. 2, their ability, their life, their trajectory.

“I don’t think that’s fair. I think we have to be careful with that. I think if there are some positives to social media, it obviously has created a vehicle for information exchange. But I say it all the time, I think some fans and some coaches and some players, we all need to check ourselves sometimes. Just ask ourselves: ‘Is it that serious? Is it that important?’ I get it. You’re upset. You’ve had some beers. I get it. Coach Huff made a bad call on third down, didn’t call time out — I get it.”

But the world didn’t end.

“Yeah, the world didn’t end,” said Huff. “I get it. I promise I didn’t wake up today saying, ‘I’m going to screw up this third-down call.’ And I get it. You’re a fan. You have a vehicle to express your opinion.

“But I think what you have to remember now is for every one fan there’s another 10,000 out there, so it kind of piles up. I just think we have to be careful with it.”

Make that, extremely careful. Yet that certainly wasn’t the case during the 2021 football season.

Just ask Grant Wells and Jarret Doege.