I have been snake-charmed by West Virginia before, twice in fact, and neither time worked out so well.

In late 1993, I was dispatched by HQ to New Orleans for the purposes of chronicling the 11-0 Mountaineers’ surprising run to the Sugar Bowl.

We the people were told Don Nehlen’s team was being woefully overlooked and underappreciated by the nation’s ignoramus press.

Funny thing. The only important thing I remember about that trip was seeing Fats Domino perform live at a fabulous Sugar Bowl dinner\dance extravaganza.

I found my thrill…

The game was a joke, as Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators routed the Mountaineers, 41-7.

My lede for the L.A. Times may have, in hindsight, been childishly dismissive:

“Turns out West Virginia is no more a national championship team than Jed Clampett was a linguist.”


Fast-forward to 2006 and I’m driving up Route 19 out of Morgantown to visit the hovel of Grant Town, birthplace of Rich Rodriguez, the rising star coach ready to lead his alma mater to the national title.

“That dirt road, up that holler, that’s me,” Rodriguez said. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.