I'm Gonna Miss H.E.R.

(With all respect due to Common, whose extended metaphor I'm essentially jacking wholesale)

There was this young lady who used to be in my class. Most saw her as out of my league--she was really going places and while I was no slouch, I was no star either. She was already involved with someone, but call me crazy, I felt like something was there. I know I felt it and I'd like to think every once in a while, she felt it too.

Before I could even explore what could be, she got a call up to the big city. Great chance to improve her situation. She saw this town going nowhere and when she got the call, she took it. I'm not mad at her for that, but I'm left wondering what might have been. She's headed to the big time, and I'm still in town here. Every now and again, I'll see things around town that remind me of her. And I know at this point I don't even have a reason to feel anything, but I can't help but wonder. I know she didn't leave town on the best of terms, but I hope that at some point we'll meet again...

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Believe it or not, the young lady in this scenario is West Virginia. As a South Florida alum, we don't truly have a rival, at least not yet. I've got a few matchups that I've always thought of as more important than others: Louisville and Cincinnati, because of the length of our history. Rutgers, because I just plain don't like them. Central Florida, as the annoying little brother who'll soon be a conference rival. But West Virginia has always been something special to me, and while I don't know if the feeling was mutual from Morgantown (or for that matter, from Tampa) that matchup always said rivalry to me.

West Virginia was consistently the class of the conference, and we were a Johnny-come-lately--to football in general, but especially to big time football. And yet, in the seven years we shared a conference, we got the better of them in three of those years, better than anybody else over the same stretch. I'd like to think both that they respected us for that, and that this fact stuck in their craw a little bit. I had the pleasure of being there for the 2006 USF victory at Mountaineer Field.

More than that though, WVU's always been my rivalry of proximity. I work with several Mountaineers. Living in NC and visiting family in MD and DE, we usually cross into the state when traveling. And outside of the in-state schools, WVU is one of the schools I see most often represented here.

Yet when I do see the stickers or the apparel, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel. Time was, I'd feel a tinge of good-natured rivalry. A desire to pop whatever USF apparel I had on or pass them on the highway so they could see the green and gold on the back of my car. To some degree, I still do, even though there's no telling when we'll see each other again on the football field.

I'm thinking WVU is probably persona non grata on Big East schedules, at least in the near future, but once cooler heads prevail, I'd love to see them make their way back as a non-conference series for the Bulls.