MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As I stared up toward the top of the hill, one thought thundered through my head.
You brought this upon yourself.
Sure, I could have eaten only one giant biscuit. Then I wouldn’t have wound up at the bottom of Law School Hill behind Mountaineer Field attempting to discern how many trips to the top would provide proper penance for my latest culinary indiscretion. But a few hours earlier, I had stood at Tudor’s Biscuit World staring up at the menu board with only one thought thundering through my head.
The only thing better than one giant biscuit is TWO GIANT BISCUITS.
How giant? The great college football writer Bruce Feldman estimated that the fluffy land mines were roughly the size of catcher’s mitts. That surprised me, given that between the two of us, I’m the writer more given to hyperbole. Each biscuit couldn’t have been bigger than the average middle infielder’s glove. More importantly, each biscuit housed specific elements of a properly decadent breakfast.
My first biscuit was a Huggy Bear, named not after the Starsky and Hutch character but after West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins. If Huggins regularly eats his eponymous biscuit, I understand completely why he wears sweatpants instead of a suit for games. The Huggy Bear features egg, cheese, sausage and one ingredient Feldman couldn’t quite discern as he eyeballed my tray. “Is that bacon under there?” he asked.
Silly, silly Bruce. The first commandment of Heaven is a Buffet dictates that when given the option between a menu item without bacon and an identical menu item with bacon added, the cured-pork option is the only choice. This explains why I ordered the Huggy Bear and not the Ron.
Since biscuits are a particular weakness –in college, I could down a baker’s dozen during a Cracker Barrel visit and still finish my entrée – I couldn’t stop at one. I pondered a Thundering Herd (sausage, potato, egg and cheese), but ordering something called a Thundering Herd in Morgantown seemed an insult to my hosts. So I opted for the Mountaineer (country ham, hash browns, egg and cheese*). As soon as the grease from the hash browns hit my tongue, I knew I would have to punish myself for my gluttony.
*One minor quibble with Tudor’s. They sell massive biscuits, which automatically makes them better than 99 percent of the restaurants operating in America. They need to take the extra step and melt the freaking cheese. A warm biscuit benefits none from cold cheese. Melt the cheese, and that Michelin star will follow.
That’s how I wound up at the bottom of Law School Hill. I had jogged about four miles around campus, but that probably didn’t even counteract the country ham. Climbing might burn off at least a few of the seven million calories I had consumed that morning.
West Virginia’s football strength coaches make players run the hill as part of the Mountaineers’ off-season conditioning program. There are two options: run straight up the hill or run up the wooden staircase to the summit. Each presents its own challenges. On the hill run, the terrain gets so steep that steps grow shorter and shorter. Near the top, it feels as if each step covers about two inches. The staircase offers a more uniform experience, but runners must dodge bees. How many bees? Pretty much every bee in Morgantown. I’m not sure if the strength coaches ordered the bees to provide extra motivation for their players to climb the stairs faster, but as dozens buzzed by, I forgot about the pain in my legs. I only wanted to reach the top of the black-and-yellow gauntlet. (These bees did not seem remotely dangerous, by the way. They weren’t interested in me, but several dozen bees are several dozen bees.)
I only made it to the top five times. I climbed the staircase three times and the hill twice. After the fifth trip, the remnants of bacon, country ham and buttermilk biscuit goodness reminded me that such a meal requires ample time for digestion. But I felt so guilty.
Next time, I won’t. Next time, I will visit Law School Hill first. I will summit the thing 10 times, bees be damned. Then I’ll order those two biscuits with impunity.
Impunity, and a side of honey.