Yesterday I sat in my regular seat behind the visitors’ bench. My wife and I joined friends with extra seats on the home side after halftime. This was my wife’s first time on the home side and my first time in years. There is a troubling trend of negativity and ignorance from App State fans all around KBS. I was amazed at the shrill, ignorant, and profane garbage directed at our own team. The main problem is negativity when you boil it down. This toxic negativity MUST be addressed. But what good is pointing problems without offering solutions? Therefore, I have some suggestions for eliminating this toxic negativity from the App State fan base! If what follows offends you then you’re contributing to the problem.

I’ve disclosed that I’m no angel several times on this website. The best fan is guilty of spreading negativity on rare occasions. But constant negativity spreads. It starts with you, then the row in front of you, the row behind you, the section beside you, and on and on until it makes enemies and divides. It’s worse with the extra layers of anonymity on social media and the Mountaineer Message Board. Recognizing this issue is the first step to being a better fan. For most of the “fans” causing the problem, this is a step to actually ENJOYING the game vs. being constantly miserable. Here are five things to understand to cure negative App State fanhood:

1 – The Other Team Tries To Win Too

Every one of our opponents practice, watch tape, and plan to win. App State players spend hundreds of hours lifting weights, watching tape, and installing game plans each year. The Mountaineers are not unique in their preparation. Coach Satterfield and his crew will have very detailed scouting reports and have our guys ready for our opponents. We will know every formation, trick play, strength, and weakness they put on tape. Therefore, our guys are more prepared on Saturday than the most knowledgeable fan x 1,000,000.

But guess what, folks? The other team prepares for us too! *Gasp!* Here’s more shocking news: because of the whole “the other team prepares to win too” thing, not every play (or game plan) will work. NMSU set up a QB keeper all day with their zone read. I told my wife it was coming and we needed to be ready. Finally, in the 4th quarter they ran the keeper and didn’t get the first down. It was a win for us! The Aggies spent three quarters setting up a run that didn’t work. The point? Even a throwaway play that the average fan doesn’t notice takes great discipline and planning. Every play involves 22 players and 11 of them want us to fail. Sometimes the bad guys win. Get over it!

2 – The Refs Are Not Out To Get App State

Remove your tin foil hat and let’s square this up: the officials aren’t perfect and don’t have an anti-App State agenda. Sun Belt officials are in the top 5% of anyone in their line of work. I’ve never witnessed a game where the officials LITERALLY cost us the game. Amazingly, I’ve heard ages 10-70 saying “I guess ______ paid these refs.” An App State fan referenced how officiating cost us the game after UGA and I almost passed out from the stupidity. Comments like that are asinine. It makes our fan base look as though we have no grip on reality. We lost to a top 6 team by 21 points and it was the refs? Wake up. More recently, AJ Howard’s ejection for targeting. I’m confident that he didn’t target on purpose. But it was targeting! The rule was enforced properly. You sound ignorant when you blame officials for our misfortunes and teach future Mountaineers around you to make excuses. Understand this very clearly: being upset over a call is NATURAL! But when the dust settles you have to STOP putting the result of an entire game on the officials. Voice your displeasure but don’t go overboard and imply conspiracy theories and bias that make ALL of us sound foolish.

3 – It’s Impossible to Always Play A+ Football

Most reading this have jobs. Some days you’re at a B or C level. Those days are tough to be as productive as you’d like. Similarly, our football team has B and C days. Yesterday was a C day for our front 7 as they gave up too many big plays and missed several tackles. Luckily our corners played A+ football. Fortunately, we are usually able to overcome these types of games (Texas State another example). But we often forget our players are between 18 and 24 years old. Have you considered that as you chastise them for penalties or lacks of focus? For those of you that have kids this age: would you ever stand for an adult screaming at your kid for not doing something they’re good at perfectly every time?

Lineman will miss a block. Safeties will take a bad angle to the ball. Linebackers will miss a tackle. Young men make mistakes. Maybe they’re struggling in a class. They could be nursing an injury. Perhaps a long-term girlfriend dumped them. Every one of those reasons are real and make their way onto the field at one point or another. Current Oklahoma Assistant Head Coach and Former App State Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeill referenced players having girl problems in a recent BGP episode. So when a player going through a personal issue makes a mistake, luckily they get a grown adult yelling “constructive criticism” at them such as “CATCH THE BALL FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!” or “MAKE A BLOCK OR GET OFF THE FIELD!” Great insight, Belichick.

The word “fan” implies support. That means every time you scream at a 20-year old kicker for missing an extra point to beat a P5 team while you made exactly 0 contributions you’re objectively being a terrible fan. Young men need unconditional support more than ever when they struggle. Side note: Booing Rubino is a garbage move and you should re-evaluate that decision. He doesn’t miss on purpose. Booing him increases the pressure AND likelihood he’ll miss more kicks. Again, it’s NATURAL to be extremely frustrated that Rubino misses important kicks. Anyone suggesting that you shouldn’t be upset when a kicker misses a chip shot is mentally ill. But that’s NOT THE POINT. Never, ever, ever, ever BOO a KID that you supposedly support.

4 – 100% of Our Coaches Know More Than Us

Our coaches have forgotten more about football at breakfast than we’ll ever know. That’s right. YOU ARE NOT A D-1 COACH. No, playing in high school doesn’t put you on their level. App State has great coaches. You will enjoy games more if you sit back and remember that before yelling dumb things like “How ‘bout THROWIN’ the ball, Satterfield!!!” To quote the great David Jackson: “Their job is your weekend hobby.” Life and college football season is too short to be miserable during App State games. Also remember that judging the success of a play AFTER the fact is easy. We may not agree with every decision our staff makes but if they asked any fan “okay so what play should we call next?” they would be screwed.

App State fans can see that Satt gets better every week. He is growing up before our eyes as a head coach each week. Moreover, just because you helped coach your sons 9-year old Optimist team to a .500 record doesn’t qualify you to assess our offense as “too conservative” because “we always run up the middle!” When Moore eventually busts loose for 15 yards you’ll forget those comments and still look foolish. A run is not conservative. We are a running team! Nate Woody will still know more about coordinating defenses when he’s dead and buried than me or you. He isn’t coaching our guys to miss tackles either. Also, App State coaches have never once designed a game plan to lose. Every coach wants to put their players in position to succeed every single play. Some coaches are better than others but they’re all better than the average fan.

5 – Taylor Lamb Is Good

At least five people around me ignorantly advocated benching Taylor Lamb with the game tied in the 4th quarter. That’s absolute madness. Did you notice the opposing QB throw 6 INTs? Lamb has flaws just like every other QB in football history. He has also been a flat out winner and runs our offense well. App State fans have been so spoiled by success we fail to realize that we have a QB that most of the Sun Belt envies. Lamb will never launch a ball 70 yards on a dime. On the other hand, Lamb rarely makes costly mistakes. He has led multiple clutch drives to win memorable games including last year’s Camellia Bowl. Appreciate the fact that Taylor is a good college QB and better than any other option for this season.

Being upset over a loss, an interception, fumble, bad call, ineffective playcall, or missed field goal is OKAY! But don’t drift into toxic negativity.

Remember, it’s ALWAYS Great to Be A Mountaineer!

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