The West Virginia Mountaineers are the football program for West Virginia University (WVU). They play in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and play their home games on Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium on the university campus. The Mountaineers have won a total of 15 conference titles across its history, including eight Southern Conference titles and seven Big East Conference titles.
Early Program History
The WVU football program can point to November 28, 1891 as its origin. At the time, the team played against WAshington & Jefferson and lost 72-0 on a field that was little more than a converted cow pasture. Despite that beginning, the program went on to enjoy a 25-23-3 overall record prior to 1900, which was the start of a strong century for the program.
This era also saw WVU’s first Consensus All-Americal and potential College Football Hall of Fame Inductee in Ira Errett Rodgers. Rodgers made a name for himself for scoring 19 touchdowns and kicking 33 extra points in the 1919 season, which led the nation with 147 total points. He also threw 11 touchdown passes that season, which was unheard of at the time and a program record that remained until 1949.
The Mountaineers Today
After the end of the Holgorsen era, Neal Brown was named as the 34th head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers. During the 2019 season, he led the team to a 5-7 record just failing to qualify for a bowl game. This was the first year that the team hadn’t made a bowl game appearance since 2013. But the team rebounded the following year in 2020, posting a strong 6-4 record. This season then led to the team being welcomed to the Liberty Bowl where they defeated Army in their first meeting since the 1961 season.
WVU’s football program played under different conference affiliations over its years. Here’s a short chart of their history.
Independent (1891–1924, 1928–1949, 1968–1990)
West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (1925–1927)[disputed – discuss]
Southern Conference (1950–1967)
Big East (1991–2011)
Big 12 Conference (2012–present)
Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium
Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium stands proudly in Morgantown, West Virginia. It lies on the campus of West Virginia University and was opened in 1980 as the home field for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team.
The stadium was named for Milan Puskar, a local Morgantown resident who founded Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Milan donated $20 million to the university in 2004 and was honored with having the stadium named after him. But the playing field maintains its original name, which was also the name of West Virginia University’s previous football stadium.
Milan Puskar Stadium History
The original Mountaineer Field was located on the school’s main campus. But due to the proximity of the campus buildings and roads, it couldn’t be expanded or modernized to meet growing demands for better football viewing. Especially since the old field could only seat 38,000 spectators when it was used in 1979.
So plans were drawn up to build a brand new stadium. Originally, the stadium was set to be called Mountaineer Field, but the student body ignored it and called it “New Mountaineer Field”. Eventually the ‘new’ fell out of us use as the new stadium was constructed.
The stadium was built in 1980 on the site of an old golf course between the Law school and Medical school buildings. The expanded facility had a seating capacity of 50,000 fans, with later expansions pushing capacity up to its current limit of 60,000 spectators.
Despite this limit, Mountaineer Field has hosted larger crowds than its capacity. With the current attendance record being set on November 20, 1993, when 70,222 fans watched the Mountaineers defeat Miami.
Other Mountaineer Field Events
A field like Mountaineer Field isn’t just used for WVU’s home games. It’s also seen use for other events.
For example, it hosted an NFL pre-season game on August 22, 1996 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons. The old stadium had hosted an exhibition match between the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals of the American Football League as well. Morgantown’s public highschools have also played their rivalry games at Mountaineer Field when the two schools shared a stadium as well as hosting the 1988 WV high school football championships.
One of the biggest surprises at the new stadium was on September 6, 1980, which was also Don Nehlen’s first game as head coach.Famous singer John Denver made a surprise appearance and led the crowd to singing his hit song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, which has been played at every home game since 1972. And it’s no surprise that the stadium has played host to regions Drum Corps International and Bands of America events as well as local high school band festivals.
This athletics program has existed since the late 1800s. So it’s not surprising to hear that they have such a storied history.
As a program, the team has an all-time .598 record with 764-507-45 match results and a .421 Bowl record with 16-22 match results. In addition, the team has earned 15 conference titles across its time with SoCon (1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1964, 1965, 1967) and with the Big East (1993, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011). Also, the team has held 12 consensus All-American players.
And let’s not forget the individual awards that the program’s players and coaches have earned, including a history of college award finalists and nominees. It’s clear that the Mountaineers are always climbing the ranks
These are some of the traditions that fans enjoy whenever they come out to Mountaineer Field.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads”
John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” has always been a theme song for the university. As such, the song is performed at every home game pregame show since 1972. In fact, this led to a 1980 John Denver performance of the song before a sold-out crowd at the stadium that marked the dedication of the second incarnation of the field and Don Nehlen’s first game as head coach.
After every home win, WVU players and fans link arm-in-arm and sing along to a recording of the song.
The Pregame Show, performed by the Pride of the West Virginia marching band includes the 220-beat per minute run-on drum cadence, the formation of the “Flying WV” logo to the tune of “Fight Mountaineers”, and the forming of the state of West Virginia while playing the university fight song “Hail, West Virginia.”