Tragedy and the Effect It Has on College Football Teams

C. J. KrasykCorrespondent IApril 15, 2010

MONTCOAL, WV - APRIL 10:  Friends, family, and community members participate in a candle light vigil at Marshfork Elementary School held for the deceased coal miners on April 10, 2010 in Montcoal, West Virginia. On April 5, a methane gas explosion killed 29 coal miners at the Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine.   (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)
Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

Tragedy affects all of us. It reaches its cold, cruel hand out and touches every single one of us at some point in our lives.

Tragedy can be difficult but it can also become a rallying point for families, communities, and even entire states.

And, if in the right area and setting, it can be a rallying point for a college athletic program.

We have seen it happen before.

In 1999, Texas A & M had a bonfire collapse that left 12 dead and 27 injured. The bonfire was a tradition for 90 years and was done around Thanksgiving and was a big part of the festivities held around the Texas game.

A & M rallied around the accident and took down the No. 5 ranked Longhorns 20-16 in what was probably the most emotional college football game ever played.

Now while that was only one game, that day will never be forgotten. Every A & M and Texas game that is played now is almost overshadowed by that event. A & M holds a memorial service ever year in honor of those who lost their lives.

Now I do not know for sure, but I would bet that the current Aggies play that Texas game for all those that were killed that day and can no longer watch.

We have seen a team rally around a tragedy for an entire season.

Three years ago on April 16, 2007 the campus of Virginia Tech was rocked when a gunman shot and killed 32 people, including 27 students and five faculty, and then committed suicide. Seventeen more students were injured in the attack.

Tech cancelled the reminder of its spring practice and the spring game. Special decals were worn on the helmets all season in honor of those who were killed on the tragic day.

The Tech students rallied around their football team and the team rallied around the student body.

They posted an 11-3 record and won the ACC conference title.

Now, in West Virginia, people are still trying to make sense of a blast that claimed the lives of 29 coal miners.

While this tragic accident did not occur on a college campus or even claim the lives of college students, expect the West Virginia football team to help rally not only the community of Montcoal, where the Upper Big Branch Mine was located, but the entire state as well.

For those that are not from West Virginia or ever lived there, it is basically one big family. We take care of each other.

In a state with no pro sports it is West Virginia University's athletic program that fans eat, sleep, breathe, live, and die with.

With a hometown coach in Bill Stewart, look for the Mountaineers to help lift the spirits of a community and state this season.