Finals are over and graduation not far behind.
Traffic is one-way out of Morgantown, thousands of students heading home for the summer or off into the unknown that is the future.
Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey may have made headlines as they went off and embarked upon their careers, but there are many different stories at West Virginia University graduation time — Kelly Folger, heading for Nashville to work for Pepsi-Cola, and thousands of other WVU graduates beginning their professional lives.
They leave in automobiles distinguishable only by the Flying WV decal on the bumper or windshield, perhaps the Flying WV flag on an antennae. They wear, most likely, a hat, a T-shirt or sweatshirt with the school logo on it, maybe a football jersey or a pair of shorts that scream out to anyone who looks at them that they are from WVU.
In truth, the Flying WV is an incredible logo … one that has grown out of the most modest of beginnings to stand up there alongside the giants of the college world.
Take the Flying WV and put it together with the Mountaineer mascot and you have, well …
Matt Wells will tell you what he believes you have.
“I think it means pride as much as anything … what the state of West Virginia stands for and what Mountaineers stand for. People rally around the teams and athletic programs, and the logo extends out to represent just what it means to be from West Virginia and to be a Mountaineer,” he said.
He should know.
Wells may have the easiest job in the state as the man in charge of marketing West Virginia sports, having both the logo and the Mountaineer mascot to sell the school and its teams.
Annually, Mountaineer merchandise is around No. 15 in the nation in retail sales of its goods, the logo being that strong.
Early on, the man who created the logo got to understand the monster he had created.
His name is John Martin. He lives in Kansas. His brother, Dick, was athletic director at WVU and was the man who brought Don Nehlen here to coach football.
When Nehlen came he wanted a logo to make the helmets distinct, sat down with Mike Kerin, who become director of football operations, and they came up with a primitive design that was sent to John Martin, a commercial artist, to produce.
He worked with shapes and sizes, decided he wanted to get the look of the mountains and to include some action, which led to the serifs that seem to be wings and led to the idea that it was a Flying WVU.
He wasn’t sure what he had created until a day he found himself in Roanoke and walked into a sports bar for dinner.
“I noticed when I walked in this crowd over in the corner cheering and I thought ‘What is going on?’” Martin recalled this year when he came into town for the Kansas game. “Well, Pitt was playing West Virginia. I looked at the crowd and saw all these WVs on sweatshirts, so I went over and joined them.
“This guy says to me, ‘You for West Virginia?’ and I said ‘Yeah.’ So he says, ‘Did you go to school there?’ I said ‘No, but my connection is I did the logo.’”
The guy looked incredulously at Martin.
“You did the logo?” he said.
That was all he had to hear.
“Everything was free the rest of the night,” Martin said.
Now don’t you go trying that the next time you’re in a bar and a WVU game is on, but it probably would work.
“I had no idea it would take off like that,” Martin said. “I’m glad it did. I think it’s terrific.”
So, too, was the deal WVU got for Martin working on the logo … which was not very much at all.
“Monetarily, to me, that doesn’t mean as much to me, not as much as it has been to the university … to the community … to the state. That, in itself, is reward to me. Amazing.”
Wells will tell you how much it has meant.
“For the nominal amount of money the athletic department paid out to have the sketching done, the return has been just phenomenal,” he said. “I don’t know you could find an investment that has returned more financially, to say nothing of from a pride and rallying point for the fan base.”
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
Finals are over and graduation not far behind.
North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament
A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.
Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again
Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
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Bucs trade for Mets’ Ike Davis
The New York Mets traded slumping first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, parting ways with a power hitter who proved to be too inconsistent at the plate.
Pittsburgh sent minor league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named to New York for the 27-year-old Davis.
Penguins wary of Blue Jackets after Game 1 escape
Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
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McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
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Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
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