When the snow hits Morgantown it’s a sure thing Kansas is in town for a visit

MORGANTOWN — A state of emergency was called Friday, as the entire state of West Virginia was blanketed with snow.

It all makes perfect sense, because, well, Kansas is in town.


Those who can remember back nearly 10 years ago will know exactly where we’re headed, a night that Bryan Messerly, WVU Associate Athletics Director for Communications, calls the “Gridlock Game.”

“I remember looking out the window in my office in the afternoon and you could hardly see,” Messerly said. “It was nothing but white and traffic didn’t move.”

Many may remember the game for WVU’s 74-63 victory against the then- No. 1-ranked Jayhawks.

Or the vision of WVU player Jonathan Holton celebrating on top of the TV announcers’ table afterward and someone handing them their baby for Holton to hoist into the air.

The Mountaineers (6-11, 1-3 Big 12) would certainly like to relive that ending at 4 p.m. Saturday, as No. 3 Kansas (15-2, 3-1) plays its only game against WVU in the regular season.

Flashing back to 2016, by 3 p.m. on the afternoon of Jan. 12, snow had begun to pile up on local Morgantown roads and highways.

According to news reports by The Dominion Post that day, MECCA 911 Director Michael Wolfe said there were 55 accidents and 30 motorist assist calls between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Former Monongalia County Superintendent Frank Devono reported busses stranded in traffic, with other students stranded at the schools still waiting to get on a bus.

A picture was submitted to the Dominion Post of a Mon County school bus stuck in a ditch, while another story developed that one bus carrying Morgantown High students was stuck in traffic so long they were unloaded at rival University High, where they were fed pepperoni rolls.

WVU students, too, were caught in the frenzy, as the PRT had broken down earlier that day.

Yeah, it was chaos.

“That storm was unexpected,” Messerly recalled. “It caught everyone off guard.”

That included Kansas’ bus and WVU players, who were stuck in the mess trying to work their way to the Coliseum.

A police escort was called to help the Kansas team bus make its way through the gridlock.

Even with the escort, Kansas head coach Bill Self said the team was stuck on Patteson Drive for an hour trying to reach the Coliseum.

“Hopefully, nobody was seriously injured,” Self said after the game. “With the number of ambulances and police cars that we saw, there had to be numerous wrecks.”

WVU player Jaysean Paige told the story that night of being in a car with teammates Tarik Phillip and Teyvon Myers stuck on Mon Boulevard.

All of a sudden, they saw Holton running up the hill past them.

“We all jumped out of the car and started running with Jon,” Paige said. “Cars were honking at us. They knew who we were. I had some big old boots and I carried my shoes. It was fun.”

Oddly enough, just a year earlier, the state was hit with another major snowstorm on Feb. 16. You guessed it, Kansas was in town again for what was a Big Monday showdown that day.

WVU’s Juwan Staten was the hero of that 62-61 victory, scoring the winning lay-up with 3.1 seconds left, and then got back on defense just in time to alter Kansas’ shot at a buzzer-beater.

As for the 2024 version, Kansas may have pulled off the travel decision of the year by flying into Clarksburg late Thursday night and bussing to their team hotel, arriving just an hour before the snow started to fall.

“They got into Clarksburg between 11 p.m. and midnight,” Messerly said. “They’re practicing at the Coliseum (Friday).”

What awaits the Jayhawks Saturday is unknown, except for the weather.

It will be cold and miserable in Morgantown, and again, Kansas is in town.


WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: WVU Coliseum
TV: ESPN+ (Online subscription needed)
WEB: dominionpost.com