The Mountaineers have earned my respect – and my fandom
College football is fun. There are hundreds of teams across multiple levels of competition. Most of these teams will never meet on the gridiron, and mostly for good reason – higher levels of football tend to dominate lower ones.
But sometimes, a team from a lower level works its way up, and after sustained success against their peers, move up a tier. Most of the time, this is a rough transition, as the new level of competition has had years of advantages in recruiting, facilities, and coaching.
But sometimes, just sometimes, a team moves up a level and keeps on chugging.
Such is the case for the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Penn State played App State the first week of the season – and needed overtime to win, eking out a 45-38 victory, after needing a last minute touchdown just to tie the game up.
For those of you that don’t know, Appalachian State has only been a Division 1-A (FBS) team since 2014, when they joined the Sun Belt conference. Prior to that, they competed in the Division 1-AA (FCS) Southern Conference. Rather than rise to the D-1 level and get smacked around, the Mountaineers have gone to – and won – three straight bowl games, tacking on two Sun Belt conference championships in the mean time.
For me, App State is easy to root for. We share no real common ground when it comes to recruiting or competition, so finding some room in my fandom for a burgeoning G5 team is easy enough. They’re a good team, evidenced by their bowl wins and conference championships. And of course in 2018, they took Penn State to the wire, a game that saw many Penn State fans applauding the opposing players after the final whistle. That the Mountaineers are now 4-1 after playing PSU – with a real chance to get to 10-1 and a top 25 ranking – only bolsters my thought that they were very good in the first week, rather than the Lions being very bad.
So, yeah: I’m an Appalachian State Mountaineers fan. They’re a good team that continues to work its way up the ladder. They routinely take on higher level teams and win. They’re making Penn State look good this year by continuing to win.
Oh, and in 2007 they upset a top 5 Michigan team.