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What a joke: Why UConn fans rushed the field after beating West Virginia

Earlier today, ESPN's Brian Bennett wrote about the strangest moments of the weekend, and mentioned UConn:

"The first [moment] was UConn fans rushing the field after their team beat West Virginia in overtime. I get it that the Huskies had never beaten the Mountaineers and it was an exciting finish, but rushing the field after beating an unranked, 5-3 team still qualifies as odd"

I can see why the rushing seemed odd to Bennett. I bet it seemed odd to a lot of other people too, including some UConn fans. It wasn't strange for me though. No, the rushing was a completely expected and cathartic moment. I doubt I'm the only person who feels like that either, in fact, I'd be willing to wager any UConn fan who lived in Storrs between 2007 and 2010 felt the same way, and it is all because of a little joke.

First, some background. UConn's student newspaper is called The Daily Campus. All three of your editors here used to work there. Like all college papers, it is a fantastic method for delivering daily crossword and sudoku puzzles. Also, on occasion, it publishes articles. It does have one unique aspect that is far and away the paper's most popular feature, the InstantDaily. The paper keeps an instant message account on all day soliciting messages from students and the funniest six or seven get published in the next day's paper. It's the first thing everyone on campus reads in the DC and 9 out of 10 days it is the most-read article on the paper's website.

In 2007, Meacham and I were in charge of The Daily Campus' editorial side. That same year, UConn football won a share of the Big East title. There was a catch though. UConn only grabbed a share of the title that year because Pitt upset West Virginia in the last week of the season. It didn't have to come down to that though. A week before Pitt's win, UConn traveled to Morgantown for a defacto Big East title game.

I don't think anyone really thought UConn would win, but we thought there was a chance. There wasn't. UConn was obliterated 66-21 and gave up 42 straight points in the second half. It was an embarrasment.

The next day Meacham and I were working on the Monday paper that would recap the disaster in West Virginia. I don't remember if I said it to him, or he said it to me, but at one point, one of us cracked, "Hey, I think West Virginia just scored again." Dumb joke? Sure, but we decided to give it the last slot in the InstantDaily.

Since Meacham and both belong to the Sideshow-Bob-stepping-on-a-rake school of comedy, we put it back in on Tuesday. Same for Wednesday. By Thursday, we started to see some backlash, but the joke was rolling now. We vowed not to force it in, but people just kept submitting it.

After Pitt's victory the following weekend, we got this: "I think West Virginia just DIDN'T score again. Haha, poetic justice."

The first day after from winter break? Yep, it was back.

Meacham even worked it into a column: "8:34 p.m. - Hey, West Virginia just scored again. That'd be West Virginia's basketball team, of course, against Marshall. I bet the basketball team scores less than 66, though. That joke will never get old."

There was even a Valentine's Day version: "Judging from the noise, I think the guy next door just scored again."

I left the paper to start this website, and this was the last thing I ever wrote for it: "Eds. Note: Well, that's it folks. You've laughed, and you've cried laughed more. The regular version of The Daily Campus is done for the year. We hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as we've enjoyed making it. Stay tuned for the Graduation Issue. Also, one more thing: West Virginia just scored again."

I may have left, but the joke didn't. Here it is in August 2008.

Bristol Palin even got her own variation, right after her pregnancy news came out: "I think Bristol Palin just scored again."

And look what showed up when UConn beat Virginia in 2008: "I think UConn just scored again. Take that, Virginia area."

Of course, when the basketball team upset WVU last year, it was back, this time inverted and leading the InstantDaily: "I think UConn just scored again."

So yeah, the joke caught on. This post was inspired by a friend who wondered on his Facebook wall if the joke and field rushing were related. I said I hoped so. His response:

i mean brian bennett was all "why would you rush the field after beating an unranked 5-3 team" and it's man. you don't know. you don't know how many of those IM windows i've had to close.

It was back for Friday's game as well. Tuesday's paper included this: "I graduated 2 years ago and now I work at ESPN and I have it on good authority that West Virginia just scored again."

2007 wasn't forgotten, and like always, UConn fans looked toward West Virginia with a sense of dread. UConn was going to lose, and probably lose big, because that is what UConn always did against West Virginia. At least, it was until it wasn't.

I'm not naive enough to think UConn fans rushed because of our dumb joke, but I do think the joke encapsulated a lot of frustration felt by fans of this football team. West Virginia was a particularly potent symbol of what UConn could never quite be.

UConn isn't flashy. The Huskies aren't sexy or fast. They don't have someone they always seem to beat no matter what. West Virginia has been all of those things. Maybe not this year, but for as long as we've mattered, they've mattered more. And we finally beat them, we finally caught the bastards. That's why UConn fans rushed the field.

I haven't actively sought out a Daily Campus article in years, but I did today. I wanted to read the InstantDaily, and it didn't disappoint. There it was, right on top: "I think West Virginia just fumbled again." Man does it ever feel good to read that.