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Behind Enemy Lines: The Reason Why The West Virginia Mountaineers Are Returning Tickets

Let's bring back in our West Virginia friends for another round of about the Mountaineers. Jude from We Must Ignite This Couch explains why the Mountaineers had to return 8,000 Fiesta Bowl tickets and what he thinks the crowd will be like in Glendale as well has his opinion on the best BCS match-up.

Welcome back to the Machine Jude. It's all yours. Take it away!

CC Machine: I heard today that West Virginia still had around 8,000 tickets left for the game. How do Mountaineer fans usually travel and what do you expect the crowd to be like in Glendale?

Jude: Usually, Mountaineer fans travel in much greater numbers than the 1.8 million statewide residents should indicate.  We regularly sell out even such minor events as the (now defunct) Continental Tire Bowl.  (The Sugar Bowl, held in Atlanta in 2005 because of Katrina, featured WVU and Georgia.  Despite the fact that the game was played all of 40 miles from UGA's campus, Mountaineer fans still made up about 40% of the crowd.)

There seem to be two separate reasons that Mountaineer fans aren't buying up Fiesta Bowl tickets in droves this season, though:

1) A great number of devout Mountaineer bowl game travelers jumped the gun before the Pitt game and bought non-refundable travel packages to New Orleans and tickets to the BCS Championship Game.  Obviously, the game tickets can be resold, but as this article from the Charleston Daily Mail details, many fans either don't want to or can't afford to let their New Orleans trip go wasted.

Many Mountaineer fans plan their yearly vacations around the bowl destinations, and now, in the ultimate case of putting the cart before the horse, these vacations are set for a destination that will feature two other teams.  (Talk about kicking a guy when he's down...)

Fortunately for those that still go to New Orleans, if there's anything Mountaineer fans like more than WVU football, it's partying.  LSU and OSU fans are going to be wondering why there are so many blue-and-gold-clad people in New Orleans that are drinking them under the table.

2) If it's possible for a BCS Bowl Game to feel like a consolation prize, that's what Mountaineer fans are feeling this year.  I don't know the history of Oklahoma football that well, to tell you the truth, but imagine that the Red River Shootout is the last game of your season, Texas absolutely SUCKS this year, you're at home, at night, favored by 4 touchdowns, on national TV, and a guaranteed trip to the national championship is on the line.  (Also, pretend you've never won one of those pesky championship things, and you have the winningest program in NCAA D-I history never to have done so.)

And you lose.

Would you want to go to the Orange Bowl?

As for the atmosphere in Glendale, under normal conditions, I'd expect more OU fans because of the geographic proximity to 'Zona as opposed to West Virginia.  With the OU fans looking at this with the potential for a split national championship, I'd say it will probably be around 3-to-1 in OU's favor.  I would expect a spike in ticket sales from this week's turn of events though, as Mountaineer fans are rallying around the team in the wake of JerkRod's departure.

CC Machine: Agree or Disagree? The Fiesta Bowl is the best of the BCS match-ups. Take away any bias and defend your response.

Impartially, as far as on-the-field play is concerned, I'd say it certainly was before Michigan completed its re-staffing of WVU coaches in major revenue sports.  Now there isn't anyone that truly knows what to expect of this Mountaineer team that was already heartbroken and dejected from the aforementioned heartbreaker to Pitt.  Knowing the team and its players, I would expect resiliant performances from veteran leaders (WVU doesn't feature many underclassmen other than Noel Devine), but I don't think there's anyone that can legitimately speak with authority on the issue.   I will note, though, that WVU traditionally plays MUCH better as the underdog than as the favorite.

Certainly OU can make the claim that its playing as well as anyone in the country (a claim probably disputed by citizens of Athens, GA and Californ-I-A.)  And notwithstanding the Pitt debacle which could be chalked up to nerves and familiarity with our system, it's worth noting that WVU's offense tends to give out-of-conference opponents fits, so the WVU O vs. the OU D might be the best strength-on-strength matchup in all the BCS Bowls.

As far as viewing novelty is concerned, I think the most interesting BCS match-up from a guilty pleasure standpoint is Hawaii and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.  Speaking as one who knows just how arrogant the Georgia fans are about their football tradition, as well as how awesome it is to see them have to bring their noses down following a loss to some "inferior" program, I can say that a Hawaii win in that game would be HILARIOUS.

You can read my first round of questioning with WMITC here.