Our Mountaineers finally hit the proverbial wall Nov. 8, falling flat on the road in Austin. From the first kickoff, they had me as jumpy as spit on a hot skillet.
They looked as haggard and lethargic as I’ve seen them this season, trailing at the half 24-3. They woke up a little in the second half, but not enough to keep the Longhorns from pulling off the upset.
The Longhorns beat the Mountaineers 33-16. It was their biggest win this season. It was also the first time in 6 years that they knocked off a Top 25 team at home.
But, as upsetting as the loss was, I’ll take a loss in the Big 12 over a win in the Big East any day.
Traveling to Austin
Since I was coming from a conference in Scottsdale, AZ, I met Dave in Austin the Thursday afternoon before the game. Our friends Jill and Steve met up with us later that night.
If you’ve never been to Austin, I highly recommend you put it on your list of away games to go to. We went the first year WVU played in the Big 12 in 2012, and we’ll continue to go back every other year.
Austin is such an awesome city. Its vibrant live music scene earned it the slogan, Live Music Capital of the World. It has more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) a few times, and I’ve seen bands setting up in the most unexpected places, such as the Patagonia store on Congress Avenue.
Bars in Austin
What’s really cool about Austin as a game day destination is that many of the bars on East Sixth Street (referred to as Dirty Sixth by Austinites) display both flying WV and Longhorn flags. They also have street signs inviting WVU fans in for a libation. What a way to welcome fans of the opposing team!
I think the High Street businesses in Morgantown should consider this tactic. It goes a long way in getting those patrons into your establishment and spending big bucks.
In fact, Austin bar owners love Mountaineer fans. After the 2012 game, one of them told Steve that his bar broke record sales that weekend.
Before Steve and Jill arrived in Austin, Dave and I went to the Brew Exchange on West Sixth Street to enjoy some good craft beer. This tavern offers a slice of Wall Street with more than 100 types of brews on an exchange of sorts. But instead of playing with money, you play with beer.
And similar to the stock exchange, the prices of the various categories of beer (i.e., IPA, stout, lager, etc.) fluctuate based on demand. A stock ticker over the bar shows the price fluctuations in real time, enabling you to abide by their motto: “Buy low, drink up.”
Once Jill and Steve arrived, we headed over to Rainey Street. This Historic District has changed significantly since I was there in March for SXSW. Lustre Pearl and some other cool Rainey Street bars have all been razed to make way for high-rise condos and a hotel.
Fortunately, the Blackheart is still there. The owners of this watering hole transformed a late 19th century Victorian home into a hip neighborhood bar. It has a great vibe and large patio.
Afterward we headed to Dirty Sixth for a few drinks before hitting up one of the many food trucks. Austin is known for its sundry selection of lip-smacking, gourmet food trucks.
On Friday, we met up with Doug and Marilyn, who came in from Pittsburgh, at 219 West on West Sixth Street. This place has the best happy hour. One of my good friends who used to live in Austin turned me on to it.
After happy hour, we stopped at the historic and legendary Driskell Hotel, where a generous Mountaineer fan bought us all a round of drinks.
We winded up the night shooting pool at the Dizzy Rooster and then downing a shot at the Chuggin’ Monkey. These 2 bars never disappoint.
On game day, we tailgated with fellow fans at the Mountaineer Roundup at the Palm Door on Sixth. This alumni-sponsored event had all the fixin’s of a WVU tailgate – good food, good drinks, good company and good music. We had gone to it in 2012 so we knew it would be fun.
There were six of us for this pregame festivity, and then we met a couple, Tina and Paul, who live in Katy, Texas. I’m so glad they sat at our table.
Tina was a hoot. She regaled us with wild stories of her time as an Alpha Xi Delta sorority sister at WVU in the mid to late 1970s. One of them involves running onto the field waving a huge flag during a game and bonking a cop in the head with it as he tried to help restrain her. (Remember, this was in the 70s in the old stadium, which was adjacent to then party-hardy Sunnyside.)
Her junior year, she was named Ms. Mountaineer. She and Steve bantered back and forth about which one of them is the best Mountaineer fan.
After the event, we started our hike to Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. We stopped at a tailgating area along the way to drink and mingle with some more Mountaineer fans, as well as a few Longhorns.
Those Texas fans are awfully nice.
Once we got into the stadium, I was excited to see my favorite Austin food truck, Chi’Lantro. This restaurant-on-wheels offers the most delicious tacos and burritos. It fuses traditional Korean BBQ tastes with Mexican cuisine. Delish!
Although we lost to an underdog, I’m still proud to be a Mountaineer. That’s one thing I love about Mountaineer Nation. We’re a loyal and prideful bunch, and we’ll never be ashamed of sporting the gold and blue. And that’s more than I can say for some other college fans.
I’m ready to go back to Austin!!