The 7 Stages of Mountaineer Football Grief


It is now very clear that Mountaineer football has suffered a great tragedy.  As such, most of our fans are experiencing a different degree of grief, just as if they had lost their best friend.  Here is my journey through agony.

1.  Shock and Denial.

You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

Early losses to ECU and Colorado were certainly shocking, to say the least.  Even still, however, Mountaineer fans held on to hope that those games were only the result of growing pains.  Unfortunately, this was made even worse by the five game winning streak that immediately followed.  The combined record of teams beaten during that stretch?  25-33.  Not exactly the Big 12 South.

Those wins kept us from seeing the real truth: since the Villanova game, Mountaineer football has been in a steady spiral downward.

2.  Pain and Guilt.

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

Trust me, I am not hiding my pain.

In just one short year, Mountaineer football has gone from the doorstep of the National Championship game to abject mediocrity.  And this is only the beginning.  A coaching staff that seems more confused than confident will not be any better than mediocre, regardless of recruiting class.  As it stands right now, this is the ceiling for our program.  In coming years, we will not have the luxury of the one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all-time.  Regardless of his abilities as a passer, the kid can still run, and this staff has failed to use his accordingly.  That shows stubborness and lack of creativity, two qualities not often wished for in a coaching staff.

For the first time since 2001, I have no idea what is to become of Mountaineer football.  I have gotten very used to success, which may make this rapid decline even harder to take.  As much as I want to use alchohol as a crutch, I must face this stark reality.  West Virginia’s days (and it was measured in days) as a national power are most certainly over.

3.  Anger and Bargaining.

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never drink again if you just bring him back”)

Rich Rodriguez didn’t do this.  We can try to blame him all we want, but programs lose successful coaches all the time.  The better programs survive, the weaker fail.  Right now, we are failing.

The administration’s decision to hire a life-long assistant coach after the emotions of a bowl victory will forever retard the potential growth of this program.  We made a rash decision and we’re stuck with it.  Thoughts of bringing Rodriguez back, however fleeting they may be, are not going to solve anything.  We must go this on our own, this time in a much more rational manner.

4.  Depression, Reflection, and Lonliness.

Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

It was all laid out for us.  Trip to the national championship game, lofty recruiting classes, prolonged success.  Then, in this past year, it up and poofed away.  No one is quite sure if we will ever — seriously, ever — reach the type of success we have seen since 2001.  Everything that was built up since then has been unceremoniously torn down.  If things were just done differently, maybe we could have held on to that success and built on it.  Instead, we made a horrible decision and have paid a dear price.

5.  The Upward Turn.

As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

This post is “Stage 5” for me.  I believe that I am finally seeing things clearly.  Instead of blindly hoping for things to change, I have decided to take a more active approach.  You will see that in Stages 6 and 7, which will come later today.

Pray for me.

[7 Steps are courtesy of this site]


17 Responses

  1. You’re preaching to the choir, brother and we wallow in misery together. What is this hope you speak of?

  2. If I’m picking up what you’re putting down, then count me in for the assasination of Jeff Mullen, or at least the hanging in effigy. Another idea…burning a lower case ‘t’ in his front yard for “time to leave.” Just throwing it out there.

  3. I have a black heart and I will always want revenge on the people or persons who put me in this situation. I may not show it on the surface and it might seem as though I’m moving forward, but deep down the ember still burns.

  4. Who do you believe put us in the situation? If your answer doesn’t include Ed Pastilong, Bill Stewart, or Jeff Mullen, you’re fooling yourself.

  5. I see it’s Rodriguez now, and not Coach Fraud or DickRod. Baby steps in the right direction.

  6. Misery loves company. I love this site.

  7. My list starts off with the first mentioned name on Charley’s last post, but you can add our governor and ex-university president to that list (all “round-mouths”) Bill and Jeff are to blame somewhat, but they were chosen and offered these positions by who…??? We had some pretty good candidates on the list to interview or we were in the process of interviewing them. With all due respect to Pat White and our football team, just because he said hire Bill Stewart, shouldn’t have been the reason to do so.
    If someone came to you and offered you over a million to coach the team you grew up watching and love, wouldn’t you do it? I can’t completely blame Stew and Jeff Mullen just sucks.


  9. Part of step 4 is realizing you can’t waste your time like you normally can scanning the college football websites, as they will add to your pain. THEN you realize how much time you spend screwing off reading about Texas Tech and the Bottom Ten and some lineman from Hawaii.

    Also, Step 5 for me was going to be via the basketball team, providing deniability to our recent pain, but the Kentucky loss shot that one down.

    The O-line coach sucks. It’s been a full season, I can say it. O- line, regardless of experience, is not what it once was. You don’t get to be nearly dead last in third-and-short just by losing a fullback.

    Let’s hope it’s cold for S. Florida and Grothe has his worst game evah. (looks like I’m stuck in step 3?)

  10. Preseason Top 10

    1. Georgia (22) 0-0 1,528
    2. Ohio State (21) 0-0 1,506
    3. USC (12) 0-0 1,490
    4. Oklahoma (4) 0-0 1,444
    5. Florida (6) 0-0 1,415
    6. Missouri 0-0 1,266
    7. LSU 0-0 1,135
    8. West Virginia 0-0 1,116
    9. Clemson 0-0 1,105
    10. Auburn 0-0 968

    Geoegia 9-3 Fire Mark Richt
    Missouri 9-3 Fire Pinkel
    LSU 7-5 Fire Les Miles
    Clemson 7-6 Hire Dabo Sweeney???
    Auburn 5-7 Fire Tommy T
    WVU 8-4 Fire Bill Stewart

    We were the only team in the Top 10 that had a new head coach. If we start firing a coach after every season we don’t win a national title we are fucking screwed. Some of you need to self medicate

  11. 5th Year,

    Have some perspective.

    Georgia lost to #1 Alabama, #4 Florida, and #15 Georgia Tech.

    Missouri lost to #14 Oklahoma State, #3 Texas, and Kansas (who played in the BCS last year).

    LSU recently won the national championship. When was that? Oh right, last year.

    Clemson fired their coach and Auburn is about to. So how are we overreacting by letting go a coach that has failed to live up to any reasonable expectation?

  12. They were unreasonable expectations first of all. Clemson and Auburn gave its coaches a chance to win.

    I will lay out my position tomorrow.

  13. The expectations were unreasonable only because our defense was so young. It was not unreasonably for WVU to expect to score more than two touchdowns per game, or to beat teams with inferior talent, or to win a very weak Big East. Bill Stewart has alot to do before he is 8-4.

    Clemson fired its coach in the middle of the season right after extending his contract, and Tommy Tuberville went 13-0 one year, but was a dead man walking after he lost to us. Starting ranked 8th and finishing 15th is different from starting 8th and finishing 45th. Of the teams with disgraceful seasons, Clemson fired its coach, Auburn is going to fire its coach, LSU has the right to be mad but is coming off a national title and didn’t have a qb, WVU retuned it’s qb, o-line, and noel devine.

    Also, it’s funny how commentators would drool over how fast WVU was and how we used it to our advantage to beat bigger stronger teams. Now we have marginalized our greatest weapon and the coaches complain that we don’t have enough big guys. Our coaches don’t know how to use the speed to win because they are stuck in the 70’s/Wake Forest.

  14. UNREASONABLE EXPECTATIONS!!!!! You act like West Virginia’s program is at the level of UVA or Kentucky. I honestly, truly, firmly believe that 5th year senior has a PERSONAL connection to Stewart, Pastilong, etc. Don’t be afraid of success!!! Does it raise expectations? Yes, but successful programs (like successful people) must realize when they are wrong and take appropriate action to rectify the problem. Sitting idly and making excuses isn’t taking a proactive approach to this situation.

  15. You are firmly wrong on my “personal connection” to anyone within the WVU athletic department.

    Who is afraid of success? I agree that this season was a disappointment. It was a disappointment because our offense did not live up its potential. How can that be fixed?

    Fire Jeff Mullen

    To throw away this entire staff would be stupid.

  16. Start at the top with Fast Eddie and have him take Jeff along for the ride.

  17. 5YS- I fail to see why throwing away the entire staff “would be stupid”. Did you consider Stewart a viable candidate before the bowl game last season? If you did, then fine. If you didn’t, then why do you think he’s a viable candidate now?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: