You really must hand it to WVU Mountaineer fans.
Two hands, I mean.
And use them to clap.
I know there are places, especially in the South, where universities have more college football fans. But you’ll never convince me they are more loyal than those in West By God.
This football season is proof positive.
Consider that West Virginia’s team was picked to finish dead last via the Big 12 media poll.
Consider head coach Neal Brown’s seat has been thought of as red hot.
Consider the Mountaineers were two points from starting the season out with a 40-15 loss at Penn State (final: 38-15).
Then, on top of all, consider WVU fans were asked to attend not one or two, but three home games in a row. Not easy for those that travel the country roads to get to Touchdown City.
Yet when I asked Matt Wells, WVU’s executive senior associate athletic director for external affairs and the school’s longest job title holder, about attendance, he dished out dollop after dollop of good news for the Mountaineer athletic department.
The final number for season tickets sold?
24,320 — up nearly 1,200 from last year (23,146).
The number of mini packages sold?
8,911 — the most minis ever sold; the previous record was 7,510 in 1998 when the Ohio St. home game was the main draw.
And the average attendance for the first three home games?
53,738 — up from 49,394 for the first three home games last year with the asterisk that the third home game last year was Baylor on 10/13, a Thursday night game.
Wells specifically addressed the three-game home stretch.
“We know three straight home games can be tough on fans, so we appreciate the terrific support,” he said. “The fans have made a significant difference for our team so far and we need them to keep coming to help support the team as we get into the heart of the Big 12 schedule.”
It’s the first time WVU has had three straight home games with no open week mixed in since 2011. The Mountaineers are now 3-1 with games at TCU (8 p.m. Sept. 30 on ESPN2) and Houston (7 p.m. Oct. 12, a Thursday, on FS1) before the Homecoming game in Morgantown against Oklahoma State on Oct. 21.
So, while the jury is still out on the team, it most certainly is not regarding the fans. Wells said that’s because with each victory he’s seeing more and more hope from the faithful.
“Excitement around Mountaineer football is growing again,” he said. “The numbers tell the story. There’s an increase in season ticket sales, a record-setting year for mini package sales and an increase in average attendance through the first three home games. All very good signs.”
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.