Multiple factors reduce WVU basketball attendance

A column by  Bob Hertzel  for The Exponent Telegram

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It is, perhaps, time to have a frank conversation about West Virginia’s conversion from an East Coast team to a Midwestern or even southwestern entity on the American sports scene.

To date, it isn’t working — on the field or at the gate.

No one expected it to be easy on the field. The names of the folks they were going to be facing in football were Oklahoma and Texas, but while they were rich in history, their history was not interwoven with West Virginia’s.

As for the TCUs and Texas Techs and, yes, even the Oklahoma States and Kansas States of the world, they were supposed to be bowl opponents and little more … not that they weren’t extremely talented football schools, but again there was nothing to tie them to WVU, whose history had been built with Pitt, Penn State and Virginia Tech and the like.

Basketball, it turned out, was even more of a dilemma for you can talk all you want about basketball being played anywhere but Kansas in the Big 12, but it is Villanova, Georgetown, Connecticut and Louisville whose names are literally throughout Final Four history.

Toss in the rivalry with Pitt and, yes, the rivalry with Cincinnati, which once employed a coach by the name of Huggins, and you understand the shock to the system.

This made acceptance difficult enough, and then when the Mountaineers threw in their first losing seasons in football and basketball since the century changed, you had yourself a problem.

Understand, we said problem, not discussion.

There is no discussion available about whether or not the Mountaineers should have made the move. That was made for them as the Big East came crumbling apart and the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten conferences turned their backs on the Mountaineers.

WVU had no decision to make, but the question is whether it handled it in such a way that its backers would accept it.

That question can be found at the box office…

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