WVU Ring of Honor, To Be or Not To Be?

WVU Ring of Honor, To Be or Not To Be?

Some of my fondest memories growing up center around trips from Parkersburg to Morgantown for West Virginia University football and basketball games. My dad purchased season tickets for both football and basketball every season.

If that wasn’t good enough, on those trips a gentleman by the name of Brad Kincaid rode with my dad and I. Brad was the sports editor of the Parkersburg Sentinel and provided my dad a long-time friend on the trip along with a Press Parking pass. Dad covered the driving and the gas to and from the game, and believed he was getting the better end of the deal.

From my perspective, I agree.

As they often did during such trips, Brad and dad told stories about the games they had attended and the past players that had worn the Old Gold and Blue. Stories that I always found interesting, and are the foundation for why I am a fan today.

Even though I was not alive to see the great teams of the fifties and too young to go to games in the early sixties, the stories provided me a connection to those teams. Everybody remembers Old Mountaineer Field when it was at its worst, the end. There was a time, earlier in its history, it was truly a special place. The same could be said about the Field House, Stansbury Hall today, for basketball.

As a boy with a vivid imagination, both places had an aura. It was almost as if you could hear the voices of all the great players and coaches that had come before, particularly when they were empty, or near empty.

In the late sixties through the late seventies it was common practice to stop at Minard’s, in Clarkesburg, to get a bite before heading to the basketball tip-off, or on the way home after a football game. I always found it amazing the amount of Mountaineer fans on hand, and how many of those fans knew Brad and dad. Another source of great stories for a kid learning to be a Mountaineer fan.

There was no leaving early after games either, as a journalist Brad had an article to write and generally finished the article before we left for the trip home. That meant I often got the unique opportunity to meet players, and coaches. On occasion I was lucky enough to watch post game interviews in person.

The Coliseum opened in 1970, and Milan Puskar Stadium opened in 1980, replacing the old arenas and beginning a new chapter in each sport’s history. Then, as now, it was change that had to happen.

There is irony, Oliver Luck was the Mountaineer quarterback that led the football team through all of the initial changes from the late seventies to the early eighties. Luck was the last Mountaineer starting quarterback at Old Mountaineer Field in 1979, and the first starting quarterback at New Mountaineer Field in 1980.

Now as the athletic directory he is once again leading WVU through enormous change. He also happens to be in the process of building another new stadium to bring the baseball team into the 21st century. Hawley Field has long needed a replacement and Luck has finally championed that replacement.

Once again, there’s that WVU history staring Luck in the face, on many levels.

Hawley Field is named for Roy “Legs” Hawley a former basketball and baseball star that also became an athletic director at WVU. Hawley literally died in his office overlooking Old Mountaineer Field. The Southern Conference still awards the Roy M. “Legs” Hawley award to its offensive player of the year in football.

With all of the issues facing Oliver Luck and his WVU athletic department it would be easy for an issue, or two, to get lost in the shuffle. Regardless the overall importance of that issue, or in this case project.

We have 25 to 35 top coaches and players we’d like to honor,” Luck said. He then added the project wouldn’t take place until the 2013 season.

Quote provided by Mitch Vingle of The Charleston Gazette

That quote is in reference to a proposed Ring of Honor at Milan Puskar Stadium and was made in July, 2012. With the 2013 football season a little over two months away, the 2014 season appears to be more realistic. Or is it?

Through the 2012 season WVU is ranked 14 in all-time victories in the FBS (scroll down the link to the bottom of page 64). Texas is ranked second and Oklahoma is ranked sixth, along with WVU those are the only three Big-12 member teams in the top-25.

For the record, and as a matter of fact, WVU is higher on that list than Syracuse, Pitt, and Virginia Tech. Thanks to Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno, WVU only trails Penn State by 14 victories.

Those three Big-12 teams are also the only members in the top-25 for all-time winning percentage. Oklahoma is fourth, Texas is fifth, and WVU is ranked 24.

As a member of the Big-12 and it’s new tier 1 and 2 media rights contract nationally televised games will continue to be a staple at Milan Puskar. What better way to highlight Mountaineer football history than a Ring of Honor at the stadium?

What better way to teach our visiting Big-12 members, and the associated visiting media about WVU football history? When that visiting media is part of a national broadcast a Ring of Honor would undoubtedly be part of that national broadcast too.

It is time for the history of Mountaineer football to be told by a Mountaineer, and put on display at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Oliver Luck is the Mountaineer to build the Ring of Honor and John Antonik is the Mountaineer to tell the story of that history. Antonik is the author of three books on Mountaineer sports history and is also the Director of New Media at WVU.

While it is true that history may not rival Michigan, the school with the most all-time wins in the FBS, or Texas at number two. It is Mountaineer history, our history.

Many of the individuals that made that history are no longer with us to tell their unique stories. Gone too, are Brad, dad, and the Lion’s share of all those people they knew at Minard’s. Perhaps, the Ring should be built while those that are left are still with us.

About the Author

Jeff Woollard I was born and raised in Parkersburg, WV. I've been going to WVU games since the late 60's, when Jim Carlen first began complaining about the roads in WV. jwoollard@wvupressbox.com, twitter @wvupressbox