WVU fans must walk the walk

Fans of West Virginia University football like to believe they ‘talk-the-talk’, but when it came to Saturday’s Gold/Blue Scrimmage, they failed to ‘walk-the-walk’ as barely 8,000 showed up for the final spring practice.

Compare those numbers with 78,000 at Alabama’s spring game and the more than 83,000 that took in Auburn’s final practice.

Attendance at spring games isn’t mandatory to be a fan, but with so many social media outlets exploding on a daily basis about the events taking place in Morgantown, one would have thought that more than 8,000 fans would make the trek to see if what they were reading on the Internet had merit or, as the case usually is, was just a bunch of hot air.

Yes, the weather was less than inviting and the game was on TV, but I’m sure fans in Tuscaloosa and Auburn, which went 4-8 overall and 0-8 in the SEC, could have utilized a similar laundry lists of reasons to be absent.

Making matters worse is the fact a percentage of the money goes to the WVU Children’s Hospital. If for no other reason, donating the $10 admission price so that a child in need can receive affordable medical attention would make a lot of sense.

Let’s face it. Mountaineer fans want to see their beloved team challenge for national titles. But, to accomplish that feat, you have to find a way to convince 5-and-4 star recruits to come to Morgantown. Several talented players were at Saturday’s game looking to see if they want to add their name to the 2014 recruiting class.

One can only wonder what went through their minds as they looked around a stadium built to seat more than 60,000 and more than 85 percent of its seats were empty. Then, they turn on their TV sets and view the highlights from the Auburn scrimmage that was played in front of a packed house.

When it comes to ‘big time Division One’ sports, image is everything.

You want to attract the top athletes in the country, then you better have the facilities and fan base to bring them to your campus. Saturday’s showing won’t accomplish that feat. And, if you think it doesn’t matter, you’re kidding yourself.

As for the game itself, it showed what many fans expected it would show-a defense that could only get better after last year’s debacle and an offense still looking to find playmakers to replace the departed Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Shawne Alston and J.D. Woods.

For those who elected not to attend, here are a few names to look out for when WVU opens drills in August. Running backs Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood, receivers Kevin White and Daikiel Shorts, placekicker Josh Lambert, and defensive backs Sean Walters and Jarrod Harper all played well enough to earn spots in the three-deep rotation.

With season ticket sales already lagging behind last year’s numbers, it would appear WVU fans are unsure if they want to spend their hard-earned money on what they perceive to be a ‘talent poor’ 2013 squad.

But, as much as our expectations were way too high for last year’s team, they may be far too low for this year’s unit.