Kansas State fans experience the Almost Heaven nature of Mountaineer Nation

Mingling with K-State fans at Kegler's. (L-R) Dave; Dan Knox from Dallas; Gretchen and Jason Haremza from Cleveland; Craig McGhee from Akron; and me

Mingling with K-State fans at Kegler’s: Dan Knox, of Dallas; Gretchen and Jason Haremza, of Cleveland; and Craig McGhee, of Akron

On Nov. 20, Kansas State alum Craig McGhee made his first trip to Morgantown for the bitter cold Thursday night Big 12 game. Now he says it’s his second favorite college town.

“Morgantown is awesome. People were so friendly, and they kept walking up to us and saying, ‘Welcome to Morgantown,’” Craig said. “I’ve never been to a place where people just walk up to you and say welcome like that.”

Craig meets fellow K-State fans in the blue lot

Craig meets fellow K-State fans in the blue lot

I work with Craig at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio, so I love that he and his friends got to experience the warm hospitality of Mountaineer Nation. As he learned firsthand, we have hearts as big and broad and unbending as the Appalachian Mountains.

Rich and Ruthann are ready for the frigid night game

Rich and Ruthann are ready for the frigid night game

The Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel has also written about this geniality and West Virginia’s love for the Big 12. “It’s nice to be wanted,” he wrote. “It’s easy to love people who love you.”

Craig was certainly impressed with Mountaineer fans’ knowledge of Big 12 football, which they were eager to share. “They knew more about conference history than we did,” he said.

One fact that we Mountaineer fans were considering that night: Kansas State is the only Big 12 team that we’ve never beaten in our football history. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers’ “Take Me Home” field advantage didn’t help us conquer the Wildcats that night either.

But in the words of Doris Kearns Goodwin in her memoir about her childhood love for the New York Dodgers, “Wait ‘til next year.”

Special shout outs and notes

  • After meeting up with Craig and his friends at Kegler’s, we walked over to the blue lot, where we stopped at the Beast tailgate. I wanted to congratulate Jason for winning Tailgate of the Year. As this year’s tailgate champion, he gets to donate $2,000 to the charity of his choice – the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Dave and I started our pre-gaming at Mario’s Fishbowl, where, as usual, we met some new friends, including Mario’s son, Mario Spina. I can’t believe that as much as we hang out at the Fishbowl that we had never met him before. He delighted us with classic stories of Mario and Rose.
  • There’s a number of reasons being in the Big 12 feels right. Although WVU has struggled some in its first 3 years in the conference, I see glimmers of hope – in recruiting and in our game. Also, as a diehard tailgater, I enjoy the away game options the Big 12 affords us.


  1. GWBIKES@prodigy.net'Gaile Wilkinson says

    I just read about your blog in the fall WV Alumni magazine. I’m not an alumni but our paths do cross in many ways. Andrea, I was born in Calhoun County – Millstone, and my oldest daughter & I took a trip down there in October so I could show her things of family history. I am a MAC member and was down for the Baylor game and again in November for MAC appreciation day and brought my grandson with me for the Kansas State game. Have a ticket for the Kansas basketball game on Feb 16th. Dave, I grew up and graduated from Stow High School. My family lived on the corner of Fishcreek & Call Rd. house no longer there! On my facebook home page, you will see a picture of myself & Coach Holgorsen plus a pic of myself in my WVU bicycling jersey while was doing GOBA four years ago. I currently live in Hartville. I usually only make one home game a year, but will have to try and find you guys this fall!

    • Andrea Joliet says

      Hi, Gaile. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment. I took a 6-month hiatus from my blog, but am working on my next few posts now. I can’t believe how many similarities we share. I lived in Millstone for a while, but my parents lived in Mt. Zion for most of my school years. You will definitely have to look us up this fall when you come to a game.

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