We grew up watching Retton and his Fighting Falcons. We grew up watching Neal Baisi and his WVU Tech teams. We watched with amazement players like Archie Talley and Sedale Threatt.
Forcing change to spur league schools to meet Division II standards is one thing. However, the mission of the league should be to accommodate state schools, not punish them or push them away. Many state schools struggle mightily. They are those tired and poor.
Maybe new league leadership was needed. But the new conference will be starting completely over. There will be no automatic NCAA bids for a couple of years. League familiarity will be out the window.
Out also are Alderson-Broaddus (which, by the way, is adding football), Bluefield, Davis & Elkins and Ohio Valley, as well as the two latecomers from Pennsylvania, Pitt Johnstown and Seton Hill. Salem and Tech have been out. The tradeoff is adding Wise and two Ohio schools, Notre Dame and Urbana.
I can't help but ask: Is that really worth ditching a tradition so near and dear to so many?
It seems as though some, like University of Charleston president Ed Welch, tried to slow and temper the change. In the end, however, word is he caved so his school would have a decent football schedule.
It's sad. After 89 years of showcasing personalities, personality conflicts brought down the show.
UC, of course, will be fine. Same with Fairmont, Concord, Glenville, Shepherd, West Liberty, West Virginia State, West Virginia Wesleyan and Wheeling Jesuit. Their new conference will have a shiny web page and maybe an Internet radio network or some such deal.
(I had to laugh, though, at the suggestion that bringing in Urbana, Wise and Notre Dame would increase the league's "footprint." Umm, for what? Those ESPN and Fox television negotiations?)
What's lost here is, new conference or not, Glenville is still in Glenville. What's lost is West Virginia State will still have issues.
What's lost is the WVC probably did try too hard to be all to too many - but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
What's lost here is a little piece of all who followed the WVC through the years. As well as 89 years of tradition.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.