Even from 1,400 miles away, the desperation was palpable. At every opportunity, West Virginia Mountaineers fans threw the horns down hand sign. Many wore shirts with an upside down Texas Longhorns logo or a hand throwing horns down.
The problem for West Virginia fans is that no amount of hate will make them a rival to Texas, as head coach Tom Herman explained after the 42-31 victory in Morgantown.
“You know, I define rivals maybe a little bit differently,” Herman said. “To me, they’ve got to have some semblance of history to it. When you play teams 60, 70, 100 times, to me, that defines a rivalry.”
Before 2012, Texas had only met West Virginia once, a 7-6 loss in Austin in 1956. So the two teams have now only meet nine times, with the Mountaineers holding a 5-4 series lead.
“We don’t take anybody lightly in the Big 12,” Herman continued. “We don’t play any less hard against West Virginia than we do anybody else on our schedule, but just in terms of historical significance, in terms of times played, obviously the team we play next week is by and large our biggest rival.”
That’s the annual Red River Showdown in the Cotton Bowl, where the Horns will meet the Sooners for the 115th game between the two schools.
From the Texas perspective, there’s only one other rival — Texas A&M. While the two schools no longer play in football, it doesn’t mean that TCU or Texas Tech has stepped up as the second rival for the Horns, no matter how many times those teams have played. It just means that Texas only plays one rival now.
In total, 11 teams call the Longhorns their rival, but it takes two sides to create a rivalry, so sorry, Mountaineers, y’all just don’t qualify.