MORGANTOWN — With all due apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King, I have a dream.
It is hardly as far reaching or as spiritually uplifting as his dream, but here in West Virginia, it’s a dream worth dreaming.
I dream of West Virginia University meeting Michigan in the National Championship game.
This year would be fine. If not, next year or whenever.
And, I hope, WVU wins that game, not by just any score but by 131-0.
I know, on the surface there seems to be no plausible reason to radiate such hostility toward our northern neighbor. After all, one member of this year’s team — defensive end Reuben Jones, whom you can read about elsewhere on this page — is the latest gift the Wolverines have sent us.
He made his Mountaineer debut with two sacks against James Madison and promises to be a spark that ignites what appears to be a greatly improved defense.
And most recently before that, Kyle Bosch transferred in and became a stabilizing factor on a good WVU offensive line.
Of course, the Wolverines’ greatest gift to WVU was the school’s Hall of Fame coach and the man upon whom the foundation of modern success in Morgantown is built — Don Nehlen.
Michigan was even gracious enough to take Rich Rodriguez a step ahead of the lynch mob that would have been after him following the devastating upset loss to Pitt in 2007.
But with all of that, Michigan took away a couple of the greatest coaches this state or school ever produced — basketball coach John Beilein, who took the Wolverines to two national championship games, and a fellow named Fielding Yost, a football pioneer who was born in Fairview and played at WVU in the mid-1890s.
Now, Yost scheduled WVU only once in his legendary Hall of Fame career, but that will never be looked upon as doing the school he once attended and played for a favor.
This was Oct. 22, 1904, a day that will live in infamy in West Virginia football annals, for it was the day Michigan and Yost’s “Point-A-Minute Offense” beat the Mountaineers, 130-0.
Fortunately, there were only 4,000 fans on hand, and because there was no radio, no TV, no internet in those days, the news was not disseminated as it would be today.
The write up in The New York Times simply said of this game that was hardly fit to print:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan football eleven defeated the University of West Virginia [then couldn’t get the name of the school right 115 years ago] by 130-to-0. This is the largest score any Michigan eleven has ever made. The Eastern players gained only three yards altogether on Michigan’s defense.
And that was that. Or was it?
Thirty-five years later Time magazine looked back on the game in a story about Michigan football and included one of the great newspaper reports of the day from the Daily New Dominion of Morgantown:
“It was declared that every player on Yost’s team weighed eight tons and had an average speed of 96 miles an hour. . . . One player said he was plucked up in the air and thrown over the head of a creature which was at least 100 feet high and had eight pairs of arms. …”
That, one guesses, was the beginning of “Fake News.”
To compound the severity of the beating, touchdowns were worth only five points in those days, so Joe Curtis alone accounted for 49 points with six touchdowns and 19 extra points.
Now, perhaps, Reuben Jones can help erase the stigma of that loss in his final season of college football, which would make him a big time hero in his newly adopted state.
So it is that West Virginians have every right to feel about Michigan just as Ohio State’s legendary coach Woody Hayes did while expressing better than anyone could in a postgame press conference when he uttered one of the best lines ever to come out of a college coach’s mouth.
Hayes had just beaten up badly on Ohio State’s hated rival, scoring late in the game and then lining up for a two-point conversion try.
In the postgame media scrum, Hayes was asked why in such circumstances did he bypass kicking the extra point to go for two.
“Because,” Hayes deadpanned, “I couldn’t go for 3.”
Ohio State and Michigan play every year. WVU and Michigan have not played each other since 1904.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter at @bhertzel.