Traveling to Morgantown can provide a reminder of how stupid conference realignment has been. West Virginia is in a different time zone. Arrival requires a plane ride, followed by either an hour drive from Pittsburgh or in my case, sitting in a car and singing “ Take me Home, Country Roads” while traveling from Washington D.C. with a few friends.
But Morgantown was excellent. I could write 5,000 words breaking down the disaster that was the game. Or we could do a running log of the best moments from the trip.
This trip came together last minute. Friend of the site, Josh DeMoss, was responsible for getting the group a hotel. He picks one that overlooks a Walmart. The hotel door will not lock, and they don’t want to give us more than one key. But there are parts of every Big 12 city where you could take a cell phone photo of a Walmart or find out that a corporation is doing something stupid. I try to remain positive and remember that this is Big 12 Country.
We get to the game via an Uber. The driver’s Uber rating mentions that “she is noted for her great conversations.” She tells us that she is now back in Morgantown because she had a falling out with a documentary maker and now they are just sitting on the footage, and she’s driving for Uber. The film—as best as I can tell—is about her co-creator overcoming his fears. He’s claustrophobic. He attempted to overcome that fear by having our driver haul him in a trunk for 90 minutes. Retelling this story it seems like our driver might have been a little out there. But she was smart, a little different and I’d note she had great conversations. She’s upbeat that the film will be made—possibly a regional optimism for a film that surely seems dead to me. Or maybe I’m once again unaware that in every Big 12 city we keep believing in dreams that are long past happening.
The entrance to West Virginia’s stadium is unique. There are no metal detectors. Tickets must be printed. And every student we see entering the game is finishing up a beer. I still remain hopeful that we might cover the spread.
The game starts and a man around us says, “There aren’t any Baylor fans here.” We correct the man and note there are like 13 Baylor fans here, and we’re five of them. He apologizes and offers us Jim Beam Fire. That strikes me as strange for a host of reasons. The rest of the Big 12 drinks Fireball. I hadn’t seen a man drink Jim Beam Fire in years, but they like their cinnamon whiskey differently in Morgantown, I guess. This offer is also strange because the man has been sipping on this bottle for like 40 minutes. Nobody comes by and stops him. I’m not sure any other Big 12 stadium would allow this. But this man loved Jim Beam Fire, and you have to appreciate a security staff that isn’t worried about confiscating the last drops of an $11 bottle of Jim Beam Fire. It wouldn’t have really mattered either. After one of us takes a shot of the Jim Beam fire, he pulls out another bottle and offers our group some more.
The game on the field has turned catastrophic. The people around us try to say that it’s not over after Denzel Mims drops an interception into West Virginia’s hands. I’m positive it’s over. I’ve played on an 0-18 baseball team. I’ve been on a date where we ended up watching the movie “Donnie Darko.” I understand when disaster has peaked, and in that moment, every Baylor fan—all 13 of us at that game—knew it was over.
We’d driven quite a ways and wanted to stay for a while longer. We make friends talking about “A Star is Born.” The man in front of us is now gone. Nobody else offers anyone cinnamon whiskey, so we figure it’s time to see the rest of the town.
“This is literally the worst wristband ever.” pic.twitter.com/O9H1sCPBo8— Kendall (@kendallkaut) October 28, 2018
We end up at a bar where they pat you down outside. I have an iPhone on me, and when patted down, the bouncer just says, “That’s not a weapon, is it?” I tell him it’s a phone or a wallet, and that answer is good enough to get inside. We get inside, and we’re the only people there. The bartender doesn’t feel extra loyalty to her own bar. She understands hardly anyone else is coming and tells us where to go. Although part of me wants to stay out of respect for a bartender that tells us somewhere else is better than where she could make money. But overwhelmed by the irony of that situation, we head out.
The next bar is kind of like if Scruff’s decided to remodel or mop. I’m adamantly opposed to that thought (this blog has long supported Scruff’s), but in this situation, it works out. This bar is packed. I was not much of a dancer at 21 and 22. And I’m certainly not at 27. But this is Big 12 Country. I dance for a while and then start thinking about the War in Afghanistan. I’m not sure what the United States is still doing there. I obviously supported the war after 9/11 and the international terrorist networks that had refuge under the Taliban are much weaker. The United States has now been in Afghanistan for over 17 years. I can understand how President Bush, President Obama and President Trump have felt like this next surge of troops or slight change in strategy might alter the balance. But that seems like a dream that is long past happening. Surprisingly thinking about the War in Afghanistan has not made it easier to dance to Yung Thug, and once again, the irony of the situation hits me. I’ve gotten bogged down on the dance floor while thinking about a conflict the United States seems incapable of exiting under any presidency.
We call another Uber and head to the IHOP. Our driver is not quite turning out great conversations. But he gets us to the IHOP. Mission accomplished. Another 5-star ride. One member of our group just starts shouting out items. He does not say how many eggs he wants or how many biscuits he thinks he needs. Our waitress seems to understand us though. What a time to be alive.
We take off in another Uber back to the hotel. The thing I didn’t like about this driver was that he was very bad. We passed a police car that was conducting a DUI investigation. Our driver decides to wait. Every other car makes the decision to drive around. We tell him that driving around is the right decision. It seems we’re persuasive, as he takes off. Unfortunately the driver starts driving right into the police car. We tell him that would be a bad decision, and thank goodness our advice is taken again. We do make it back. We all have bad nights and years. Hopefully this man only has the former, but he seems destined to have the latter if he keeps driving for Uber.
Before leaving town the next day, we hit up “Black Bear Burrito.” I forgot to pack enough shirts because I spend my days thinking about issues I have no control over like the War in Afghanistan and not “What will I wear tomorrow?” Fortunately the Black Bear Burrito sells t-shirts. They also have bear regalia everywhere. If this is not the best of Morgantown, then we have missed something exceptional.
The journey comes to a close. We blast “Take me Home, Country Roads” a few more times. We travel through yet another part of the country where the Sprint Network proves oxymoronic. And we arrive back in D.C. The Bears showing on the field was catastrophic. But I had a wonderful time in a place I would never end up if not for the stupidity of conference realignment. The people were friendly and engaging. The town was fun. This was not Ames, Iowa. It truly was Big 12 Country.