MORGANTOWN - The West Virginia State Police has provided two troopers to accompany the West Virginia University football team on trips to road games as well as serve at home games since 1993, the year the Mountaineers went 11-0 for the second time in school history.
Sgt. Glen P. Doyle of the Bridgeport detachment is about to begin his fifth year in that role, and his partner, Sgt. Randy Schambach of New Cumberland, will be in his sixth year.
Basically, they form what's referred to as the "football detail" assigned to provide protection and escort for the head coach, assistants, players and other personnel. It has worked so well that other colleges have inquired of Doyle about what's involved.
"The people at WVU have been great," Doyle said last Friday. "They have accepted us as part of the Mountaineer football family. It is an absolute privilege to be in a prestigious position - one I believe other troopers would enjoy being part of.
"I don't take it lightly that I was selected for this duty. Some people say you don't have much of anything to do. But there are some things you have to do at certain times to make things flow correctly."
Capt. Gary Edgell, then heading Troop I at Shinnston, obtained permission from Col. Tom Kirk to discuss the possibility of such a tie-up with WVU. So he met with Athletic Director Ed Pastilong in 1993 and worked out an agreement.
The State Police would provide two troopers for the football detail, and the university would provide them with rooms and meals on trips.
"That was a handshake (between Edgell and Pastilong), and it's been that way ever since," Doyle said.
It started out as a two-year assignment with one new face each year. But in 2004, the State Police granted a WVU request that the same two troopers serve continuously.
"Coach (Rich) Rodriguez felt that we worked well together and that we understood how the university worked with regard to football detail," Doyle said.
"He liked having the same faces around and asked that we be permanent every year. So that's the way it's been the past four years."
Doyle and Schambach also serve at home games. Besides escorting the Mountaineers between the stadium and Lakeview, they are at the WVU bench during games, then escort the visiting team to either the Bridgeport airport (for a charter plane flight) or to the state line if that team is headed to Pittsburgh or Maryland.
The troopers accompany the Mountaineers on the chartered flight from Bridgeport to wherever WVU will be playing the road. Upon arrival, the officers hook up with that state's law enforcement agency.
"We organize with them who's going to be in the motorcade, cars as well as buses, and plan for our entire stay," Doyle said. "For bowl games, of course, we're there a lot longer, and we pretty much do the same things."
The troopers not only protect the head coach but help family members of coaches and players after games. That's why it is important for them to recognize who should be allowed in the lockerroom and who shouldn't.
That in itself is demanding on the football detail. While everything usually goes along uneventfully, there are times when the troopers have to become more forceful and, yes, even physical.
The worst incident Doyle could recall was created by an intoxicated young rowdy last Sept. 28 in Tampa, Fla. The Mountaineers had just dropped a 21-13 decision to USF and that fan jumped out of the stands and raced toward Rodriguez.
"Frank Washenitz Jr., who helps Dan Nehlen with football equipment, saw the guy go through the crowd and actually bump into (WVU fullback) Owen Schmitt," Doyle recalled. "That caused people to look in his direction, and he was tackled by Washenitz, who tried to detain him.
"Sgt. Schambach and I saw the commotion of what was going on, so I escorted Coach Rod farther out on the field and Sgt. Schambach and Frank Washenitz placed the young guy on the ground. He eventually was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol."
Doyle said the drunk never got close to the Mountaineer mentor. He was believed to have been a Floridian who tried to make a name for himself
"Most of the time we don't see people who truly seem to want to do harm to anyone," the 37-year-old Barrackville native said. "We've had a lot of people who, because of their intoxication or celebration excitement, tried to get to the coaches or to some of the players. And then we had to be more aggressive and forceful with them.
"That is to avoid injuries to the coaches and players and probably to themselves."
Doyle said he's looking forward to working with Bill Stewart, the new head coach.
"He is one of the most courteous, generous man I've ever met," he said. "He was very nice as an assistant, and he hasn't changed."