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W.Va. Orange fans juiced for Pinstripe Bowl

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - This weekend's Pinstripe Bowl will pit WVU against its old Big East rival Syracuse University once again - a move that is sure to dredge up an old conflict for some locals who are torn between the two.

Rod Blackstone, Charleston's assistant mayor, will be dusting off his orange to watch the game with friends - the overwhelming majority of whom are surely WVU grads, or at least fans.

"They'll give me a hard time about it, especially if WVU wins," he said. "That's just part of the nature of being a fan and following sports."

Blackstone roots for WVU often, he says, but only when they're not playing Syracuse. He graduated in 1985, right as the football team was "beginning its ascent" in the 80s, and he's too loyal to the school and that time to think of rooting against them.

Lynn Swann works as the marketing director at The Homestead, in Virginia, but worked for years at The Greenbrier and still lives in West Virginia.

She also graduated from Syracuse in 1989.

She too will be rooting for her alma mater this weekend, the Wheeling native said, "at the risk of getting run out of my home state."

At her house, though, there's not much opposition: she has a daughter who wants to go Syracuse too, and her husband went to Marshall.

Kallie Cart, an anchor at WCHS-TV, grew up in West Virginia but went off to Syracuse for college, only to return to her home state to work later in life.

Over the years she's had her fair share of "friendly wagers" over the outcome of various games, but she thought she'd bought dinner for a WVU fan after a win for the last time when WVU left the Big East Conference.   

For her, the game match-up is so much sweeter for being between her alma mater and her home-state favorites.

"It's a win/win situation," she said. "It's just fun for me to engage with people. And the more they poke at me the more I engage."

That's the same way Liam Gilroy feels. Gilroy is the president of the New York and New Jersey chapter of the WVU Alumni Association and he's thrilled to see the team coming to New York, where there's such a strong alumni presence and so much support for the team.

The alumni chapter holds a watch party for every game, and they're consistently well attended.

"It's like being in a bar in Morgantown but you're in New York City," he said. "You walk in and everything is covered in blue and gold and the game is on every TV with the sound on."

For the Pinstripe Bowl, the alumni group is  sponsoring two events: a pre-game party at noon, just two blocks away from a subway stop with an express train to Yankee Stadium (Rathbones, 1702 2nd Ave.), and a party tonight near the part of town where most of the visiting fans seem to be staying (Hudson Station, 440 9th Ave.).

Gilroy grew up in New York but went to WVU. The Pinstripe Bowl is the perfect melding of his backgrounds.  

"It's kind of like my two worlds are colliding," he said.

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.


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