Conference realignment talk and ESPN's GameDay making its first appearance in Morgantown grabbed as many headlines over the past seven days as did West Virginia University playing host to an LSU squad picked by many to capture the title in the tough Southeastern Conference and play in January's national championship contest.
While the jury may still be out on first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen's first Mountaineer squad after it dropped a 47-21 decision to LSU, the verdict is in when it comes to the appearance presented to a national television audience by WVU, the city of Morgantown and the state of West Virginia.
And, it is a positive one.
Beginning with Friday's opening round of broadcasts from its site on the Mountainlair Plaza, the GameDay crew that included Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, Erin Andrews and David Pollack seemed to be impressed with the show of pride and passion displayed by the thousands of fans that flocked to the site to be on the show.
Every West Virginian had to be proud of the way the crowd behaved itself in front of a national audience that numbered in the millions. The cheer "Let's Go Mountaineers" was heard loud and often as was WVU's signature song, "Country Roads".
The atmosphere around Milan Puskar Stadium was electric for the 8 p.m. start and while many in attendance had made a day of it, displays of rude and rowdy behavior were few and, for the most part, far between-about what the average college football fan would expect to witness when attending a game either at home or on the road.
Inside, Mountaineer Field was rocking. The 55,000 "Terrible Towels" distributed before the fans began to enter the stadium was a nice touch and it made for quite a spectacle when WVU began its comeback from a 27-7 halftime deficit.
From the start, LSU played like a program accustomed to performing in front of a national audience. Les Miles' Tigers were quick, strong and prepared and it showed as they built their 20-point halftime advantage primarily upon the miscues of a Mountaineer squad unaccustomed to playing in a contest with this level of attention.
That changed, however, in the second half when junior quarterback Geno Smith led the old gold and blue on back-to-back touchdown drives to whittle the margin to six, 27-21, with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.
It appeared as if Mountaineer fans were about to witness their own version of "The Miracle On Ice".
That changed 16 seconds later, however, when LSU's Morris Claiborne returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for the touchdown which proved to break the Mountaineers' backs and send the Tigers on to their fourth road win of the season-three against Top 25 caliber teams.
It was far from the ending WVU fans wanted to see, but sometimes there can be more positives coming out of a loss than negatives and this may be the case. With WVU possibly looking for a new conference to call home, the "total" show it put on over the weekend should make the Mountaineers an attractive program for any conference in need of a team.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org