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DA Sports Column: How 'bout those new uniforms?

West Virginia University head coach Rich Rodriguez should be commended.

No, not for his achievements on the football field or for his role in building the Mountaineers into a top national program - enough publications, including our own, seem to be doing that daily.

But Rodriguez should be applauded for pledging support to a group, and their fundraiser, that seems to have been lost in the preseason hype. A squad which returns loyalty and support annually to the Mountaineer football team, no matter how good or bad they play on the field.

The group - The Pride of West Virginia, WVU's Marching Band - could be the most loyal faction of fans who attend Milan Puskar Stadium every gameday.

Ninety degrees outside? They're there, in full ensemble with trombone and drum stick in hand, as the flag twirler and baton thrower exhibit artistry on cue during the games' festivities.

Snowing? You'll still find the trumpet, flute and sax players performing the school fight song after a touchdown, during a timeout or throughout their pregame routine.

Finally, after 11 years, the Pride have gotten new uniforms. Actually, 400 new uniforms that are to be unveiled for most at the WVU vs. Marshall home opener.

And it's about time.

Hopefully the change isn't as drastic as the new uniforms worn by the NFL referees. What was so wrong with the classic zebra stripes? Instead, the new uniforms look like they sports permanent pit stains.

See, the WVU Marching Band actually needed new uniforms, a nd after a decade of wearing the old ones, rightfully deserved a set.

For those that have no idea, during the school year, the Pride practice for at least two hours a day.

During their summer camp, just before school starts, the band members work 12-hour days.

So next time they map out West Virginia on the playing surface at Mountaineer Field, it's important that we realize how much work goes into their gameday customs.

And that is why it is long overdue that the WVU Marching Band got rid of their old uniforms, which were apparently held up by pins and paper clips, for some new threads that cost $270,000.

On a downtown campus that sports more bulldozers than books, it's nice to hear that the marching band's uniforms will no longer match the conditions of some of the university classrooms or off-campus student housing.

Some athletes live by the motto, "If you look good, you play good." Well the same can be said for musicians.

To help offset the cost, the WVU Marching Band has launched a "Band Aid" campaign that calls for donations and contributions to reach its goal of $270,000.

A steep price but a worthy cost for an underappreciated group who help make Saturday afternoons and certain weeknights during the fall football season a Morgantown staple.

Donations and contributions can be sent to Band Aid Drive, c/o WVU Foundation, PO Box 1650, Morgantown, WV 26507.

In addition, donors will receive special gifts that include a car decal, limited edition band CD, a retired band hat or a framed "flying WV" plaque.

Not the sexiest of prizes I will admit, though the retired band hat would be a nice addition to any collector of Mountaineer memorabilia.

If you thought the "Pride" was good before, think about how good they'll be without pins and needles holding up their uniforms.