The Times West Virginian

February 6, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN: A few tips on how to control fans

By Bob Hertzel

MORGANTOWN — Found it extremely interesting that on Saturday, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported upon West Virginia University’s beginning steps at reining in boorish fan behavior at basketball games, they choose not a sportswriter to do the honors.

In a fitting gesture, instead, they opted to have Ann Rodgers, a former colleague of mine in the days of the long-departed, still sadly missed Pittsburgh Press, handle the honors.

Fitting?

Yes. Who could be more fitting to write about West By God! Virginia than the newspaper’s religion writer?

Ms. Rodgers reported that Pitt will do nothing to change its policies of fan control when the Mountaineers repay the visit to the Petersen Event Center for a 9 p.m. game on Friday, a made-for-TV time that allows the Oakland Zoo only about five or six hours to grease their skis before payback time.

The Zoo, of course, is always a zany place to visit, with many surprises in store for the Mountaineers. In truth, the students there have always been every bit the equivalent of West Virginia’s own Mountaineer Maniacs, so it is somewhat surprising that Pitt is saying it will not increase its crowd control measures.

The talk is that the WVU team will carry umbrellas onto the court, just in case it rains debris upon them in retribution for the performance WVU fans put on when the Panthers were sacrificed in Morgantown.

Helmets, perhaps, should be standard issue for both teams when that rematch gets going.

But first there is a matter for West Virginia of playing simply the biggest home game in many years, both from a conference standpoint and from a national rankings and NCAA seeding standpoint, that the team has played come a Big Monday meeting with the No. 2-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

While this does not carry the rivalry emotion that does any meeting with Pitt, no matter what the situation, it appears that any game in which the Mountaineers engage a team that has a cat for a mascot — in this case a Wildcat — gets the students roaring with insanity.

That being said, the WVU administration is currently trying to devise new security measures to put in place by Monday evening, with suggestions for everything from eye-in-the-sky cameras to limiting the number of students allowed to attend to anywhere from 1,600 to zero.

As a public service, we would like to offer our own suggestions for the Board of Governors and President James Clements to consider, ways to keep the students from chanting obscenities and bombarding the players with objects from the stands.

1. They could deny any student admission who is dressed more like Bob Huggins, with his WVU pullover, and less like Villanova’s coach, Jay Wright, acknowledged in some quarters as the best dressed coach in college basketball.

Anything less than an Armani suit worn with a valid WVU ID should keep men from entering. Women, on the other hand, need to be draped in either Gucci or Givenchy. No one dressed like that would dare act insane in public.

2. Each student would be required to drink at least nine beers before entering.

The theory is that it is very hard to throw objects while your head is down between your knees.

3. Every other seat ought to be occupied by a West Virginia football player, in charge of the students on either side of him and making sure that they act according to Hoyle.

4. Students should wear Mountaineer Maniac pullover T-shirts without sleeves.

Have you ever tried to throw anything with your arms pinned to your side?

5. Coin receptacles raising money for Haiti relief should be placed at every entrance and any student — or non-student, for that matter — should be required to place all coins into the receptacles. That would keep the game’s attendees from just throwing their money away, so to speak.

6. Seats should be put back into the student section with special chairs that include an electric shock. Any member of the student section caught behaving without aplomb and decorum will be zapped.

7. Let the Turk serve as student disciplinarian. Throw something and you have to play in the pivot against 6-foot, 9-inch, 260-pound Deniz Kilicli through West Virginia’s next practice.

8. If you are caught acting up at a game, you have to hold a target at the next WVU rifle match. The only catch is the shooters will be shooting from a kneeling position … blindfolded.

If they would use any — or all — of those suggestions, we suspect attending or playing in a West Virginia basketball game would again be a wholesome, safe, family experience for everyone … even players from Pitt.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.