Win or lose on the gridiron, when you put family, friends, Mario’s Fishbowl and the Cowbilly Bowl together, you have all the makings of a memorable, curtain-rising game weekend.
Despite the gloomy forecast and noon game time, the last home game of the year lured fans out bright and early for pregame celebrations.
Dave and our friend, Mike, of Aurora, Ohio, had our tailgate set up by 6:15 a.m. By 8:30 a.m., the Mountaineer faithful had successfully transformed the gold lot into tent city. Our tailgating group alone had 8 tents to shield us from the intermittent bursts of hard rain.
Everyone was feeling as fine as frog’s hair as they ate, drank and became merry – or rather, merrier.
But first, let’s rewind to our pregame events the night before at Mario’s Fishbowl.
From the time we arrived in the mid afternoon, the Fishbowl was jam-packed with lively West Virginia and Texas fans.
Texas fans travel well, and a lot of them wound up at Mario’s – including the hardy contingent from the Cowbilly Bowl.
The Cowbilly crew is a mix of West Virginia and Texas fans. They established the Cowbilly Bowl in 2012 when we joined the Big 12. Mark “Fuzzy” Furr, who grew up in Parkersburg, had a graphic artist in North Carolina, where he now lives, create a visual identity for the Cowbilly Bowl to make it official.
Every year they get new Cowbilly Bowl attire to sport on the eve of the game.
We tailgated with them last year in Austin, and I was excited to hear they had brought the Cowbilly bus from Dallas to Morgantown. That’s a long trip for the Cowbilly bus, and one, sadly, it couldn’t quite make on the return trip.
I also finally met Longhorn fan Cliff Burkhart. We’ve been exchanging messages on Twitter for the past 3 years, so I finally got to meet him in person – along with his brother, James.
He even tossed a quarter into the green vase for a free Fishbowl.
At the tailgate the following morning, we rinsed and repeated the activities of the night before.
We had an especially big group this past weekend. In addition to our regular crew of friends, my sister and brother-in-law came in, as well as a group of friends, including several from college and as far away as Phoenix.
Between the delicious, come-hither smell of smoked meat and hootenanny of jovial camaraderie, we felt like a dog with two tails.
I have to admit that it was probably the best tailgate for a noon game. We got plenty of pregaming festivities in. But maybe it just seemed that way because instead of going into the rainy game, my sister, Missy, and I opted to hunt down the Cowbilly bus in the light blue lot.
During the search, some fine, hospitable folks invited us in to their decked-out West Virginia tailgate, where we could watch the game on their TV. After a brief stint there, we left and found the Cowbilly bus.
Much like last year’s early game in Austin, the Cowbilly bus was the place to be for tailgating after the game. I love these salt-of-the-earth guys and their nicknames – Fuzzy, Peaches, Big John, Beyonce, Ralph, Reedo, Swing, Chip and Ernie.
I was hoping to see Big John in the Mountaineer mascot costume after the game, but they let him take off the rain-soaked outfit before going into the game.
You see, another Cowbilly Bowl tradition is having Longhorn fan Big John wear a West Virginia outfit during the tailgate and game if we win the year before. But when we lose like we did this past Saturday, WV fan Reedo has to wear some type of Longhorns outfit the following year.
Fortunately, Fuzzy sent me a few pics of Big John as the Mountaineer. Whaddya think? I think it suits him.
We had a lot of stars in our crown on this banner fall day. Check out our photos from the Cowbilly tailgate.
See you next year in Austin, Cowbilly friends!