The excitement I felt leading into last weekend was feverish enough – and then it became downright striking. My ol’ college roommates Jill and Steve Besendorfer were coming from Phoenix, plus 7 other friends, 1 from Virginia, 2 from Williamstown, WV, and 4 from Akron. And, we were playing the #4-ranked Baylor Bears!
Then, Tuesday morning before the big weekend, things got even more intoxicating. I received an email from CBS Sports’ Tailgate Fan host/producer Nick Stevens. He and his crew were coming to Morgantown.
He had come across my Wild and Wonderful Tailgating blog and told me that Dave and I “strike him as just the kind of people we’d love to meet and talk to.”
I couldn’t believe it. I felt more charged than a Visa card at Christmas time. The weekend was going to be epic. I only wish my daughter, Aly, could’ve joined us.
If she had, she would definitely choose WVU for graduate school next year. Instead, she was in Vancouver presenting at the annual geology conference – as an undergrad no less. (So proud.)
Friday night at Mario’s Fishbowl
Dave and I always head to the Fishbowl on Richwood Avenue every Friday of game weekends.
We also always meet new people at Mario’s, and this past Friday, we had the pleasure of meeting former WVU standout Grant Wiley. Until his friends told me who he was (he just introduced himself as Grant), we had no idea he was the Grant of football fame.
You wouldn’t recognize him as the All-American linebacker who still holds the record for most tackles at West Virginia University. After shedding his bulk from his playing days, he’s 60 lbs. lighter and lives in New York City, working as an actor and singer/songwriter/vocalist for Gn8.
Grant is one of the nicest and most genuinely humble guys you’ll ever meet. When Dave asked him if he had any extra tickets for the game for our friends, he offered up 4 free tickets.
Later on that night, our friends from Akron arrived and they got to experience the center-of-the-universe that is Mario’s Fishbowl. We also anxiously awaited the arrival of Nick Stevens, who said he was going to show up at some point in the night.
He first got there during a lull in the crowd, but in good ol’ Fishbowl fashion, the iconic dive quickly swelled up with happy and boisterous Mountaineer fans, plus a couple Baylor fans. We cheered everyone who walked through the door. We never discriminate against the team colors you wear.
We certainly gave Nick and his crew plenty for his show. I can’t wait to see how that portion turned out.
Everyone had to dig deep the next morning for the early game. (Those noon games are hard on Mountaineer fans.) But as always, the excitement of game day made everything brighter.
We had an amazing tailgate, minus one interloper, with delicious food and drink. (I’ll be writing a post about proper tailgate etiquette soon.)
Nick and his crew stopped by early in the morning, but we weren’t ready for him, so they headed to the blue lot, where they visited a few of my friends and other diehard Mountaineer fans. I’d love to meet ‘Eer Man one day. (Check out the webisode here.)
They came back shortly before we tore down our tailgate.
As we headed to the stadium, the anticipation of the big game carried us along like a great tide. My voice is still hoarse from all the cheering we did. It’s slowly coming back. I’d like to think that now I’m in the Demi-Moore-husky-voice stage.
I had said the No. 1 thing I wanted to do in the stadium that day was sing, “Country Roads, Take Me Home,” and boy, did we ever! Even the Baylor fans stuck around to witness this unique and gripping tradition that we do after every WVU victory. What great sports!