Just when you thought it was safe to say the word football in West Virginia without attaching Rich Rodriguez to the conversation, "Shred Rich Rodriguez Night" is announced. The Wheeling Nailers, the AA minor league hockey team in Wheeling, WV, will offer fans discounts for bringing a picture or newspaper article of the former West Virginia coach to shred.
The Nailers are offering discounted tickets to any fan that brings in a newspaper article or picture of the former West Virginia University football coach to contribute to the industrial sized paper shredder that will be stationed in the concourse. Additionally any fan who wears WVU apparel to the game will receive $2 off their ticket price. Ohio State fans will also receive the discount by wearing their gear to the game to demonstrate their mutual distaste for Michigan. Any fan caught wearing University of Michigan apparel will be charged double in order to help Rodriguez pay his $4 million buyout to WVU.Oh boy. Even though I'm a West Virginia fan, I've tried to stay away from a lot of this stuff. There was a two week period right after Rodriguez announced he was leaving when it was understandable and accepted that there would be some blow back from the decision. But the constant flow of youtube videos burning Rodriguez in effigy and the like has given the state and fans a bad name.
Not that a fan base that is constantly referred to as hillbillies, cousin loving, etc. is really going to care what anyone else thinks. But at some point this really does need to stop. Because it takes away from everything that the players on the team worked so hard to accomplish, and makes them pawns in a game of who's side are you on. Something they never asked for. They just came to West Virginia to play football and represent the university.
It's just a game. Yes, a game that gives them the opportunity to get an education or possibly fame and fortune in the NFL. But it's just a game. And it shouldn't be the kickoff point for a congressman's re-election campaign. Or a governor's way of getting his name out time and time again.
Things have gotten way out of control in West Virginia. From the administration that has seemingly bungled every chance to hold on to good coaches (like him or not, Beilein was good for West Virginia basketball), to the politicians that coattail on the success and more recently the demise of the football program, to the fans that have taken a bad situation and made it worse. It makes me sad to see my state and university in such a sad situation. I hope there is something learned from all this. Maybe that we should just enjoy and support the players and coaches while they are here. Maybe if we did that, West Virginia and the university would be the great place we all think it is.