WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Friday Feedback

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Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which wants to start with a serious tone today. Earlier this week, we commemorated the state’s birthday, and while celebrations were elevated by the Will Grier news, they were also tapered a day later by the budget. Today, we note that we’re a year removed from the rain and the flooding that wiped out parts of West Virginia. Things are better. Things are not great. Things can still improve.

If you can, spend some time today reading through the stories we put together for today’s Gazette-Mail. There are sports, which is where we became involved last year, but there’s more. These are good stories about people and about society, about working together and about needing to do more.

No joke here today. Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted.

The 25314 said:

Congrats on the invite to the bachelor party.

That’s more like it.

Continue reading…

Clear some space?

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“It’s an honor to be nominated…” but Kadeisha Buchanan, who wins just about every award for which she is nominated, has a chance here. I don’t know where this would rank in her vast trophy case — somewhere between Herman and Hardman, no? — but it’s a national award. Too bad Kelsey Plum is in the mix. This one won’t be easy.

By the way, Buchanan played in 16 matches for her professional club that went 21-1-0 and made a mockery of the league. Look at the goal differential!

Every little bit helps

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Mike Martin was once the director of baseball operations at West Virginia and now works on the production side of Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter. He and SVP did the Mountaineers an estimable service Tuesday with this bit, which brought a bottom-of-the-screen college football transaction in June to a much greater platform. To review: WVU will exceed expectations and has a player with superstar potential.

That’s worth a lot of money and much more, and that’s important. The Mountaineers have something going with quarterback transfers, and if they are intentionally doing it, then they ought to continue collecting high-value assets this way. Doing so means maintaining a position out front in this particular and lucrative marketplace.

Through junior college, FBS and postgraduate transfers at various positions, the Mountaineers entered the lucrative marketplace for players in search of a new situation. With Clint Trickett and Skyler Howard before Grier and Allison, the Mountaineers have now branded themselves as a destination for transfer quarterbacks.

Seemingly everything in college football is about recruiting, and everything in recruiting is about marketing. Anyone can sell facilities, uniforms, the relationship between the coaches and the players and whatever other trinkets, because everyone has them or can finance them.

The Mountaineers have a unique selling point that can’t be bought. They have a specific opportunity for a narrow segment of the college football population. Through their recent past, they’ve produced an image that presents WVU as a destination for quarterback transfers — and let’s remember the highest ratio of high-profile transfers is at quarterback.

The smoothest!

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Lots of football recruiting happening on West Virginia’s campus this week, but there are some basketball guests, as well. Keldon Johnson is not one of them, but he’s been in town before and remains in touch with the Mountaineers coaches. Others WVU would like to land have been in town to have a look, including some players from Ohio, including Jeremiah Francis from Pickerington Central.

“He was there on Sunday,” said Central coach Eric Krueger. “He did really well. I just spoke with Coach Huggins and Coach Harrison this [Tuesday] morning. They really love him.”

He, too, is a four-star player and has been ranked No. 2 overall in Ohio. In addition to WVU, Ohio State, Purdue, TCU and Virginia Tech have offered, according to Krueger. North Carolina has shown interest.

“He likes West Virginia a lot,” Krueger said. “He had a great time on his unofficial visit and likes the players and staff a lot.”

As a player?

“He’s attacking,” said the coach. “He’s strong with the basketball. He’s a floor leader, but can score in bunches. Not a lot he can’t do. Tough. A winner.”

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Will Grier’s dad took a short walk to the beach and had pizza and beer to celebrate the big day a long time coming. And now the family presses reset and gets back to that thing Grier used to be known for and, oh, by the way, good at.

Quarterback!

Will Grier had completed more than 65 percent of his passes at Florida and thrown for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns when he was suspended. He was named the Parade national player of the year and a high school All-American in 2013, when he accounted for 90 touchdowns, including a national-best 77 touchdown passes.

He was named the North Carolina player of the year his final two seasons and totaled 14,565 yards passing and a state-record 195 touchdown passes in his career.

“His high school coach had him learning a bunch of stuff at one time,” Chad Grier said. “I don’t know who that guy was, but he must have been a real jerk.”

Will Grier’s coach was Chad Grier, and Davidson Day School won four state championships from 2011-16. Will was the quarterback for titles in 2011-13.

“I’ll tell you this, and I’ve said this many times because I get a lot of credit and hear people say, ‘Man, Chad must be a really good coach,’” Chad Grier said. “The reality is I could call about anything and he’d make it work. I wasn’t that good of a coach. I had a pretty good player back there. Amazing how that works.”

The Will Grier explainer

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explainj

 

That’s how Will Grier was declared eligible for the 2017 season today. The technical definition here is that the NCAA approved his request for reinstatement. A waiver is something separate and different, and we’ve been stating and repeating that there was no waiver here. I was educated on this along the way, because I was among the many who initially used the word “waiver” as though it held no special meaning.

Anyhow, you request and wait, and remember that the NCAA wasn’t in a rush to rule on this, and WVU wasn’t in a rush to learn, because Grier couldn’t play in 2016 anyhow. He was a transfer who had to sit. When the right time came, WVU and Grier applied for reinstatement, and when the right time came, the NCAA approved.

Continue reading…

White smoke!

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Three-hundred and ninety-seven days ago, I was at a bachelor party in Dewey Beach, Delaware. My phone dinged, and there was an email from West Virginia’s athletic department. It contained a quizzical statement on the status of Will Grier, a transfer quarterback from Florida who at that point in time may or may not have been made to sit out the first six games of the 2017 season because of a NCAA suspension.

There was no way you could read the statement and dismiss it as a simple status report, if only because it was unsolicited and unprompted. Something was up. I stepped outside and tapped out a few texts and made a few phone calls, and a while later we discovered this much: Grier was good to go, provided he maintain eligibility standards.

If you’ve been following along, you surely know this has been the question ever since then, and I confess I pretty much gave up dealing with it rationally long ago. I knew he was good to go, and I couldn’t articulate that any more clearly than I thought I had. Today, I no longer have to deal with that.

Will Grier is eligible for the 2017 season.

Rotation needed

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Four names. Three members of the 2017 West Virginia baseball staff. Matlock, of course, was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator who was named the Vaqueros head coach earlier this month. Atkinson was a volunteer assistant and Tuntland the director of operations this past season.

I trust WVU manager Randy Mazey wasn’t going to promote one or the other to Matlock’s spot, so now we assume Mazey will use his cache to add to his coaching staff. What’s interesting is Mazey has long been known for his prowess with pitchers. He gave a lot of his authority to Matlock this season, probably similar to what Dana Holgorsen is doing — or preparing to do — with Jake Spavital in the fall.

As for other changes…

Continue reading…

Not just a playmaker…

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… an elite playmaker! We’ve probably spent too much time lately with who’s on campus for 2017-18 and who may not make it. Jordan McCabe still has his senior season of high school basketball in front of him in Wisconsin, and he’ll bring some hefty momentum to it.

West Virginia’s 2019 recruit was a standout at the NBPA Top 100 camp last week at the University of Virginia. Only one other player had more assists per game, and McCabe’s team went undefeated and won the tournament title. He did quite all right along the way.

mccabe

Gather ’round

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Mountaineer

 

It’s rainy in Morgantown this morning, and there’s a joke to be made here about the parade of recruits on campus this week. West Virginia is playing host to hundreds of prospective student-athletes through Saturday. These first four days are what you’d call one-day camps for elite prospects. Players do positional tests and drills, not unlike combine activities, while the Mountaineers coaches get a look. Toward the end, there’s time for individual coaching and more of the getting-to-know-you stuff. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s the mutually lucrative two-day 7-on-7 tournament.

Anticipate news out of this week, and if there is news, it’s likely going to be good news for WVU, because it’s lined up some notable visitors.