Monday, December 17, 2007


So, the football coach of WVU decided he wants to go to Michigan.

I'm not a football fan, haven't watched a full college game in probably ten years, but I listen to other people talk about WVU football a lot. Rodriguez leaving hurts, but not just in the expected bowl game/wide world of West Virginia sports way. It lays a hurting on the ridiculous hope that smart, talented people from the state are willing to take less in order to live a bucolic, near perfect life among the mountains.

It hurts because Rodriguez is one of us. He's a local boy. It hurts because this refers right back to all the yammering about attracting the Creative Class, about finding ways to stave off the brain drain in West Virginia. Bringing in new people, getting people to stay has always been hinged on some goofy idea, that despite being virtually last on every list for health, earning and education, living in West Virginia is attractive because we still have trees and streams, because we have values, because we're good people.

Yeah, being a hillbilly is very appealing. Remember, this is how people see us. This is what we project.

But I come not to bury Rodriguez, but to praise him. I come not to pick at wounds, but to note this could be a good thing. This might be a bucket of bracing water tossed in the state's face. This is something that might get noticed. If you want to improve the state's chances, keep a top level football coach, raise the quality of education, improve health, you better be willing to pay... and I don't mean just a salary.

Enough wasn't done to make Rodriguez want to stay. That's the truth of it. You can hem and haw and talk about all the things given to him. You can say he was given everything he asked for (or pretty close to it), that he's ungrateful and sure... I can dig that. He certainly looks like a cocksucker for posing as the state's die-hard golden boy then flipping over when he was given a better offer, but maybe his asking price and his real price weren't the same thing. Not enough was done to figure out what he really wanted, instead of what he would take. WVU, the state of West Virginia, didn't come up with what he wanted.

Otherwise, he wouldn't be leaving.

Rodriguez and the state's future are part of the same equation. I think, for things to get better, to really get better, West Virginia has to stop looking for the asking price and negotiate from there. It's a buyer's market, not a seller's market. We have to figure out what development, the creative class or whatever really wants. What we got now ain't it.


jenlyn said...

West Virginia has what I want because it has Charleston. It also has Mt. Nebo, where my grandparent's grew up and Richwood where my other grandparent's did... and Glade Creek where we played in the woods and flew kites in cow fields and the Summersville Lake where we camped all summer, the summer of '93. I don't really care if it has what the creative class wants or what any hypothetical group would want. I'm home. Home is what I want. :)

primalscreamx said...

It has what I want, too. It has my kids and my wife, who wouldn't leave at gunpoint.
There's also a pretty good burger over at the TA truckstop in Teays Valley.
But signs of decay are everywhere and the future for the state is kind of bleak without something to bring people back. What there is isn't working. If it was, the population wouldn't be declining and aging.

Mike Spain said...

My views a little different as some one who moved to West Virginia. I know the county I moved into is the exception and not the norm. It is actually a growing county in West wife didn't want to raise our daughter in our apartment. 2 adults 2 kids pretty crammed in an apartment. What could we afford in Maryland? I could move into an intercity row house. A county further east in Maryland I couldn't afford, Virginia I couldn't afford. West Virginia I was able to get a single family home. The house is small, but has some neat outbuildings. The best part it is on more than an acres, in the woods and hills. My step son was going to a magnet school in Maryland. In the regular schools band wasn't offered. It was in magnet school where he learned the trumpet. In West Virginia he is going to a normal school, and he gets band there. This is in grade school.
So I don't buy the schools are worse in this state, due to some national rankings. I'm seeing with my own eyes they are not.
Property prices are better in West Virginia. As far as culture in this state, it is better than what is reported. Look at the talent that plays at The Purple Fiddle in Thomas. Look at the talent that plays Mountain Stage! Shepherd University gets some neat talent around here and I assume the other colleges around the state do the same. The natural beauty of this state is unreal. I've taken some people who have never been in West Virginia, and really impressed them when they get to see places like Blackwater Falls for the first time.

primalscreamx said...

Oh, roomie, I feel the love, but you just got here. The few cities and urban areas are not the state. They are islands of resources on a sea of want and need.
The rankings about education, health and earnings are not in dispute.
And Mountain Stage gets good talent because a) they pay them. b)it's a national radio show heard on over 100 radio stations. c) they're usually on Sunday nights, which are off nights for many musicians.
The state is losing residents faster than they can make them and the ones they're keeping are getting older and older. It's a bitch, but what we're doing ain't working.

Buzzardbilly said...

Excellent post and comments. I must ponder a bit, then I'll come back.

Buzzardbilly said...

It would be a great start if every high school district had an adult education center that would help prep adults for the job market (like resumes, interviewing skills, and help navigating the job market). I think a lot of people who live in the more rural areas and haven't commuted for work are intimidated and lack the resources to begin the process.

That's the best idea I could come up with (meager as it is).

Juanuchis said...

I was born and raised in Weston; I left for 25 years and spent 11 of those years in the DC area. I am so grateful to be home, yet it pains me to see the decay and lack of opportunity here.

However, development is such a delicate balancing act. I saw what unfettered development and greed did to rural Virginia (Loudoun, Clark and Frederick Counties). I would hate to see our centuries-old heritage lost to "development". And sadly, that's also happening to the far eastern panhandle. That's why, personally, I don't want to see Corridor H completed. But what to we do in the meantime, or instead of?

I don't have answers ... just musings at this point.

primalscreamx said...

The bitch of it is in order to get money into the state to improve schools and develop other businesses aside from coal, we probably have to rely on what we have infrastructure for. That's going to be industrial. The plastics plant coming to Belle is more of what we need.
It ain't going to be video game designers and web engineers. We missed that one.
Unfortunately, if we don't welcome more development and a little destruction of our heritage, there won't be any of it left eventually. Most everyone will move away and government or resource companies will simply reclaim empty land.