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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
Finals are over and graduation not far behind.
County has 20 on All-Big 10 football team
It’s no secret that the Big 10 is a deep football conference, with four teams making the AA playoffs and one in AAA.
Mascaro in the running for USA Today High School Ultimate Athlete award
Fairmont Senior girls’ soccer player Gabi Mascaro is up for another award as the 2012 sports season comes to a close.
VanGilder leading Bees to impressive start
East Fairmont’s new girls’ basketball coach James Beckman wanted to make things different this season after the team he took over posted a sub-par record last season.
HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU game attendance questioned
You might remember Rick Harshbarger. We introduced him to you almost a year ago as the guy driving the car parked in the Coliseum parking lot with the license plate: NO1WVFAN.
Dolphins shake off snow, beat Steelers, 34-28
Considering everything the resilient Miami Dolphins have put themselves through over the last two months, a couple of snowflakes were hardly going to be a problem.
Aggressive Falcons roll past State, 107-89
Jerrod Calhoun had a simple message for his Fairmont State University team at halftime of its game with visiting West Virginia State here Saturday afternoon at the Joe Retton Arena.
“Coach got on us at halftime about playing timid and not being aggressive,” said backup point guard Shammgod Wells, who helped key a big second-half turnaround for the Falcons in their 107-89 blowout win over the Yellow Jackets.
Lady Falcons’ second-half rally falls short
A 17-point second-half deficit proved to be just a bit too much for Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons to overcome here Saturday afternoon at the Joe Retton Arena.
Visiting West Virginia State built a 55-38 lead just over 26 minutes into the contest and then held off a furious FSU comeback bid to record a 78-75 win.
HERTZEL COLUMN: There are no sick days for athletes
So you wake up on a Monday morning and it’s cold outside; a couple of inches of snow have fallen. That’s bad enough, but then as you roll out of bed and put your feet on the cold floor, you realize you head is aching and your back hurts and you’ve got the sniffles and then …
Marion County wrestlers begin season
All three Marion County teams kicked off the wrestling season Friday and Saturday at the Hedgesville Duals.
At the end of the competition, nine wrestlers remain undefeated.
Fairmont Senior swims to second
The Fairmont Senior boys’ swim team took second place Saturday in the Morgantown Invitational, finishing just four points behind Parkersburg South.
The Polar Bears were led by Tyler Campbell, who was named to the all-tournament team after finishing first in the 50 freestyle and second in the 100 fly.
- More Sports Headlines
- County has 20 on All-Big 10 football team