MORGANTOWN - The pregame and in-game production at Mountaineer Field will feature old and new elements this football season, according to Matt Wells, West Virginia University's director of sports marketing.
Wells wants to keep specifics secret so fans may anticipate and enjoy the experience, but said it won't be hard to spot changes for Dana Holgorsen's first season as coach. Holgorsen debuts when 24th-ranked West Virginia plays host to Marshall on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN).
"There are some changes coming that will be noticeable to fans," Wells said. "There will be some new things and some things that probably won't look much different than before. What we've talked about are things we hope fans enjoy and gets them fired up for kick off and certainly throughout the game."
There are three main elements, beginning with the team's entry to the field.
There will be a new entrance video. The way the players and coaches depart the tunnel and hit the field could have changes, too. Wells wouldn't comment on what has become widespread speculation, but the inflatable helmet that for the last several years has puffed smoke as the players ran through it may be no more.
"I will say it's safe to say that's one of the changes that will be noticeable," he said.
Within the game, the production includes the songs during breaks in play as well as the crowd prompts during play. Wells said those have been altered as well. He again wouldn't confirm anything about any songs, including the curiously divisive "Cotton Eye Joe," which is another staple that could be removed.
Wells said there's no way to have a universally accepted set of songs.
"You're going to get different opinions," he said. "There's a reason there's more than one radio format. People enjoy different types of music. It's always a matter of personal preference and when you have a stadium full of 60,000 people with every different demographic represented, you won't find many songs that appeal to everyone."
Wells said WVU revisited the crowd prompts that ask for reactions on third down, noise on key downs and things like that and tried to find ways to invite the best and most involvement.
"We think about what's worked and what doesn't work and we adjust and adapt based on that," he said. "We're trying to get a mix out there that appeals to most fans, but, again, we know we're not going to please everyone."
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WELLS SAID WVU has sold about 34,700 season tickets and projects to selling roughly the same amount as last season.