Harris a Big Fan of Grier, Hot Burgers

Josh Strope Sports Editor

WHEELING — One thing that can be said about West Virginia University sports fans is that they are passionate.

And with that, their heroes never die.

Major Harris is one of those heroes. His legend speaks for itself.

Harris was the quarterback for Mountaineers from from 1987-89 and, in 1988, led West Virginia to its first undefeated regular season and a date with Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship, a game won by the Fighting Irish.

He was a Heisman finalist his final two seasons, finishing as high as third. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1990 NFL Draft, but never played a down in the NFL.

In 2009, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Nowadays, Harris, 49, dedicates himself to helping out with youth projects and, when time allows, perfecting his golf game.

But one thing he is never far away from is his alma mater. Harris regularly attends WVU games.

“Especially the big ones,” he said. “I try to go down for those. I still love Morgantown.”

Harris lives in Pittsburgh and says he doesn’t get too many games on television. So when the Mountaineers hit the road, like they are this week when they open the Big 12 slate against Kansas, he needs to find a place to cheer on his team.

What better place than being surrounded by West Virginia fans?

Harris will be making an appearance at noon Saturday at Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers and Beer in The Highlands to watch the Mountaineers take on the Jayhawks.

“I love Wheeling and I have spent a lot of time there in my life,” said Harris, who is a former coach of the Steel Valley Smash indoor football team. “There are a lot of WVU fans and I love being able to reconnect with the people.

“We can get together and reminisce about good times. I haven’t been (to Bubba’s) before, but I have heard nothing but good things. A couple of my friends said it is a nice place. I am really looking forward to having a good meal and watching the game.”

What he will be seeing is a Mountaineers team with a 2-1 start to the season as it begins search of what it hopes will be its first Big 12 title.

Harris has high hopes for this season’s squad and one person in particular — quarterback Will Grier.

“They are a good-looking team,” Harris said. “One thing about this team is that we can score and that is something you need in the Big 12. There are a lot of high-scoring offenses and you need to be able to keep up.

“That Will Grier, he can really throw the ball. I think he is the best passer we have had since Geno (Smith). He is definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”

That’s pretty high praise.

It is the same kind of praise that Harris still gets, even from those who have only seen him in highlights.

“When you go back and people remember your name, it is special and definitely appreciated,” Harris said.

As much as Harris loves football, though, one thing he is also a big fan of is burgers. And of course, someone like Harris can’t just eat any burger. He likes them hot. Real hot.

Harris created his own Major Harris Burgher that will be available Saturday. Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers and Beer, a local restaurant that features a farm-to-table kitchen with meat ground fresh daily, is unveiling this new menu item in honor of Harris.

The burger will feature hot pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, jalapenos and hot sauce.

“It is a very different kind of burger,” Harris said. “I like a little spice, something that has a kick to it. This is definitely going to be a hot burger.”

Along with getting to watch the game with Harris, guests will get one free autograph at halftime. Autographed memorabilia will also be available for auction during the game.

To reserve a table, call (304) 909-0022.

Josh Strope can be reached at jstrope@theintelligencer.net