West Virginia is a proud state that has many colleges claiming residency, schools such as West Virginia Wesleyan, Fairmont State, and Bethany College. But, none are as prominent as West Virginia University and Marshall University, the two biggest colleges in the state. Because of Marshall and WVU’s long standing history, many like to claim that the two universities’ are rivals and any interaction between the two should be seen as a major event, exploited by promotions that throw around the words “friends”, “coal”, and “of”.
So today we are going to take an in-depth comparison at WVU and Marshall, and try to put an end to this debate once and for all. First up is the most important aspect of a universities merit, it’s most glorified characteristic, the determining factor that makes a university great…
If you thought I was going to say academics, than get your nose out of that book geek and go watch Sports Center.
The sports programs at WVU and Marshall are varied. Both have well-known basketball and softball programs as well as tennis teams, baseball, and rugby squads. But, none of these compare to their football programs. Both WVU and Marshall pride their schools on their respected football teams: the Mountaineers, and the Thundering Herd. Throughout the years both schools have seen tragedy (the 1970 plane crash that nearly killed the entire Marshall football program comes to mind) and glorious triumph (WVU’s Fiesta Bowl victory after the departure of head coach Rich Rodriguez, for example). Both have sired many NFL prospects that went on to great prominence, (Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, and Byron Leftwich from Marshall; and Steve Slaton, Marc Bulger, and Amos Zereoué from WVU).
You can make a compelling argument for both school’s football programs, but lets be honest, WVU is going to beat Marshall 10 times out of 10. Saying WVU is going to beat Marshall is like saying beer is delicious or boobs are awesome; you’re just restating facts. WVU has gone undefeated against Marshall in all four years of the current seven-year contract. I don’t understand how such a lopsided series could be called a rivalry, but for the sake of the argument I’ll count it.
Both Marshall and WVU have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to higher education. WVU has more students, so naturally they will have bigger classes and less student/professor interaction. Marshall is considerably smaller, allowing students the opportunity to get a more intimate experience. Also, smaller class rooms means less lectures and more discussions, encouraging more independent thoughts and expressions.
"Yes, you can have an opinion, but that doesn't make you any less of a moron."
On the other hand, more students means more income, and WVU utilizes that revenue by providing top of the line equipment Also, they simply have more majors to offer than Marshall, making them stand out to high school seniors. Also, WVU has more graduate programs, making it the place to be after your undergraduate work is complete. This is a tough call, but I’m going to have to go with WVU solely on the fact that they don’t have the Marshall Plan; a mandatory curriculum Marshall imposes on all its students to make them more “well-rounded,” but is really designed to keep you in school longer and drain your bank account.
Marshall University’s campus is ideal for students. All of the colleges are centralized in one area, making it relatively simple to commute from one class to the other. Also, it’s flat, so there is no straining to carry a bag full of books up several large hills while trying to make it to class in time. The student center is smack dab in the middle of campus, making it a great place for social interaction and student events. Marshall is also the home to a new state-of-the-art fitness center, that includes an Olympic sized pool and a new climbing wall. Marshall also seems to be moving toward the future. Recently they opened a new research center, several dormitories, and have constructed an impressive Alumni Center that alone makes smaller schools in West Virginia seem like piles of crap.
WVU has no central location. It’s sprawled all over the city of Morgantown, and is plagued with rolling hills that make commuting a chore. WVU rarely constructs new facilities, choosing instead to update and renovate older buildings. WVU does have the PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) which shuttles students around the city. But, it’s unreliable at best, breaking down frequently and taking precious time to fix. As far as convenience goes, Marshall reigns supreme.
You might have heard of this movie that came out a few years ago that starred Jack from Lost and the shirtless pot head from those chick movies. It was called We Are Marshall and depicted the events that surrounded the 1970 plane crash that nearly destroyed Marshall’s football program and devastated the city of Huntington. The crash alone made national headlines, but Marshall truly gained recognition after Warner Bros. exploited the tragedy for financial gain. The movie was titled after the chant heard at sporting events, and has become integrated in pop culture.
While the film garnered mostly positive reviews, it failed to capture the national audience’s attention in the busy 2006 Christmas movie season. Recognition has always come easy for WVU, who’s nationally ranked football and basketball teams have lead many to believe they are the only university in the state of West Virginia. WVU is known nationwide, and they didn’t even need a mediocre movie to do it.
Just as they are known for their sports teams, WVU is also known as a major party school. But, its not your typical frat parties where togas are worn and inhibitions are thrown out the window. No, I’m talking about some really dangerous stuff. I was in Morgantown when the Mountaineers made it into the “Sweet 16,” and I literally feared for my life the entire evening. I saw people partying in the streets, couches burning in front lawns, and cops in full riot gear trying to control the chaos that had flooded the once quiet neighborhood.
I saw a car explode. I saw a car explode and watched people cheer. I then realized I had entered an unknown level of hell full of drunk college girls and arsonists, and it would take all of my wits to make it out alive.
Win, lose, they don't really care. WVU just want to see shit burn.
The fact that the words “burning” and “couch” are synonymous with WVU is a pretty sad state of affairs. Aside from the anarchy that happens when a sports team wins, there isn’t really much else WVU has to offer its student body as far as recreational activities, so its no wonder they’re boredom drifts them toward mayhem. The few activities they do bring in are tailored to fit the party mentality, so their student activities board isn’t doing them any favors. Marshall, on the other hand, has events planned throughout the year to help curb the need for destruction, and encourage their students to use their energy more constructively.
Marshall also has strict rules when it comes to on campus living. While having to subject your friends and family to security checks and sign-in procedures every time they come to visit might seem like a hassle, it helps ensure that Marshall’s campus is as safe as possible. The last time I visited a friend at WVU I saw a guy walk into his dorm with enough alcohol to get five Andre the Giant’s shit-faced, and no one said a word. Where do you think I felt safer?
Huntington, WV is a charming city that sits near the West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky borders. It is home to the "Central City" historic district in downtown, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of it’s buildings date back to the 1800’s, and the Keith Albee Theater is a treasured landmark that's own storied history rivals broadway. And, in addition to embracing its storied past, the city is also building toward the future. The Pullman Square is a shopping center in walking distance from campus, and boasts state-of-the-art movie theaters, top-line clothing stores, various resteraunts, and a comedy club.
Morgantown, WV is a rolling hill of darkness whose evil rivals that of the land of Mordor. I have been to Morgantown many times, and I can say with utmost honesty that every time I am there, the sun is not. I don't know if its hidden behind a fog of couch smoke or it just flat out refuses to inhabit the town, but I have never seen the sun shine in Morgantown, WV. In 2005 I was traveled there on the hottest day of the summer. It had gone almost four weeks without rain, and there were no clouds on the horizon. But, as soon as I crossed the city line, the sky darkened and rain poured for the next three days.
Also, Morgantown is a pain to navigate through, and it's nearly impossible not to get stuck in traffic. There is nothing interesting to do that is within walking distance, and if you do find an activity to distract you from the monotonous gray skys, chances are it will involve copious amounts of alcohol. The city is too small to inhabit the amount of people living in it, so everyone is literally stepping over each other to get around. Why anyone would want to live in this city beyond academic persuits is beyond me.
Due to Marshall's less than stellar sports teams and WVU's overall shitty location it's come down to a tie. Lets go to the final category to see which university is superior:
College is the greatest racket in the history of mankind. It is a device used to exploit naive high school graduates whose fear of the unknown compel them to stay in school as long as possible. Tuition prices nationwide have gone up 6.5 percent in the past year, and are only going to get higher. Neither school should win for their vagrant abuse of the educational system.
Since there was no tie breaker in place you would think that as a son of Marshall I would automatically give them the win. But, in a twist of M. Night Shamalamadingdong proportions, I am going to award the title of "Best University in WV" to West Liberty State University! Sure, they might barely be a university...hell they are barely even a school...but what they lack in academics, sports, and over-all excellence, they make up for with...um...crap. To be honest WLSU is basically high school, they just hand out degrees. But, they're cheap, and that's all it takes to win my favor.