A couple of weeks ago, West Virginia’s football team held fan day activities at Milan Puskar Stadium. During the even that lasted an hour and a half, Mountaineer players and coaches visited with and signed autographs for approximately 1,800 fans. Years ago, players would put pen to paper for Mountaineer Nation on Gold-Blue Spring Game Day but in a brilliant move a couple years back, that tradition changed.
The current event occurred just a few days and a month from the season opener against Penn State. There is no better way for the University to drum up interest in this years squad than to have fans interact with Mountaineer players and coaches. This is the best time to sell season tickets and bringing fans to the stadium at this time is brilliant. Kids in attendance develop a connection with players and they will do the broken record routine until their parents buy them what they want, in this case it is tickets to see their new friends play. It’s genius from a marketing perspective.
Having a fan day event at this junction is also beneficial to the coaching staff as well. It’s the dog days of summer and the heat is on, both literally and figuratively. High temps and humidity surround the heated battles waged on the practice field for playing time and starting positions. This break in action reminds the players that they have fans. Fans that are excited to meet them. The smiles on their faces and the kind words that they provide gives an emotional lift that helps carry the players through the toughest part of camp.
Some question what the majority of players dream of when they strap on the pads. The answer is simple, going back to when they first started playing the game, “playing in the NFL”.
Players want to make it to the big time. It is what drives them to put in extra time in the weight room and on the practice field. Did I mention that there were a handful of NFL scouts invited to the event? Having scouts in the stadium will drive up the level of effort from every player.
West Virginia Head Coach, Neal Brown also took the opportunity to mention that there were several positions that were still up for grabs and that practices would be more physical than they were a year ago. Brown is under pressure to provide a winner this season. His message, if you read between the lines, was clear. Brown wants his players to compete. The harder they work, the better they will be, which strengthens his starters while building quality depth in the process. Brown also knows the tougher his players become the harder it will be for opponents to defeat them mentally and where it counts the most, on the scoreboard.
Coaches that aren’t as demanding during the preseason have teams that are slow coming out the gate.
Brown needs a quick start to the season. After state, a brief break Duquesne is on tap week two, then the Backyard Brawl. Then it’s off to conference play, so a fast start is needed. Momentum can be gained with a pair of early season victories. Brown has his future in his own hands and he is doing everything that he can to keep the momentum gained from fan day.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!