Three cheers for scandal!


Saturday night was a night of disappointments. The crowd at the Capital Classic again underwhelmed. The WiFi disappeared, which, personal feelings aside, is a shame because there are a ton of people with an interest in one team or both who would like to get intel from the game during or after it and they cannot.

I say this knowing how it makes me look, but the best live, blow-by-blow analysis came from people who were watching on television far, far away from the Civic Center and its one wireless router.

And is it me, or is Bob Huggins pouring water on this game?

He’s got this weird thing lately where he’s sort of admonishing the media for various thoughts.

“I’ve got to watch what I say because some of you guys really don’t understand $#*% about basketball, so you write stuff that’s ignorant.”

That might be true, but still … and the people who chuckled there probably don’t belong in that room. Or they’re the ones he was referencing. Or both. Probably both.

Anyhow, Huggins really tempered the Capital Classic the day before the game, suggesting Virginia Tech was scheduled to give the team a rival, and then again after it Saturday, when he more or less said the people billing it as a rivalry are too untaught to recognize and appreciate a real rivalry.

Now, this is a game both schools had billed as a rivalry and staged to be one, until they were tested when circumstance intervened and pulled this thing into December. And Huggins didn’t merely say it and move along. He backed it up and said proximity matters and that this game lacks it. He said his players don’t look forward to it, which is not an empty statement, and he presumed Marshall’s act the same.

He’s not incorrect, but it was strange, even if it was in place as a reply to a question about whether the emotion of the game stirred WVU the wrong way in the first half.

More and more, though, I get the feeling WVU would just rather not play this game and would be happier hammering some other non-conference foe or playing a made-for-TV game. That’s not going to happen, but that doesn’t mean the Mountaineers don’t feel that way.

The bummers went beyond the atmosphere, though. We were treated to a $10,000 halfcourt shot, but the contestant underhanded her shot and it fell short of the damned 3-point line. I don’t think she was booed lustily enough.

Worst of all was the lack of the “strongest cheerleader” competition, which had become as much a part of this game as profanities from the stands, excessive whistles on the floor and the winner promptly taking on a losing streak. You know, because the game doesn’t matter.

People looked forward to the show of strength. It invigorated the crowd and recharged it for the final stretch of the game, which in recent years was a wonderful tool because the games were tight and unbelievably overofficiated to test the crowd’s verve. In short, the contest became an undercard and people seriously wrote about it.

The lead photo for this post is Hertz conducting that interview just as WVU was creating critical distance in a rare blowout in the series. It’s a classic.

So in the middle of Saturday’s second half, in the spot usually reserved for the contest, the two teams and their cheerleaders took to the floor and the crowd rose and buzzed. We sent our videographer out to film the spectacle. And then it was just two teams holding their cheerleaders up intermittently and the crowd groaning quizzically. A Marshall envoy told our videographer that WVU didn’t want to do it — and many of us had witnessed an oddly heated conversation among the teams backstage before the game.

Well, that led to this …

The ugly sweaters did not underwhelm, though. A handful of people did it for the game. I met some people — some of you? — afterward who showed off their holiday spirit. That was fun, which is should be.


38 Responses to “Three cheers for scandal!”

  1. Rick says:

    Spot on as always Mike. I was surprised at all the empty seats on the upper level. And I had my date all pumped for the strongest cheerleader competition. WVU looked lethargic most of the game. Staten and Watkins had monster games. If this game can’t even sell out the Civic Center on a Saturday night, maybe WVU should get a Ohio St, UK or UNC type team that could travel some fans. Might drum up more interest. For the record, I don’t miss this game and love that they moved it to Saturday night.

  2. glibglub says:

    Hey, we’ve seen feats of strength in past years. The way I look at it, it was high time for the airing of grievances.

  3. Mack says:

    I looked like a newby. Here was my pregame pointers for my wife, who was new to this game:

    – Strongest cheerleader is one of the highlights of the game (didn’t happen)

    – Gary Browne is probably the worst shooter on the team (he didn’t miss a shot)

    – Eron Harris is the best player on the team (he barely made a shot)

    (At least my description of the Marshall fans was spot on. They were making excuses about the refs before the game even started. “We’re going to have to be 20 points better than WVU for the refs to give us a chance.” See guys… no one likes people who claim the refs stole the game from them).

    My thoughts on the half court shot: For some reason, WVU’s bench sat out on the floor almost directly underneath the basket (Marshall’s does the same thing). The girl seemed to look up and think “There’s no way I’m making this and there’s a 90% chance I’m going to drill someone from WVU in the face with my errant shot. Screw it, I’m just going to roll the thing toward the basket.” Even if Da’Sean Butler was taking the half court shot, he would’ve been very wary of the WVU entourage being perched so precariously close to the basket.

  4. Rugger says:

    You tell Mrs. Mack that you’re Mackstradamus and that she should support your predictions regardless of their accuracy. For better or for worse right….she’s lucky to have you.

  5. oklahoma mountaineer says:

    Rivalries are definitely established based on proximity — look at how much we looked forward to playing Va Tech and Miami when in the Big East. Those are just stone throws away from Morgantown.

    If you use that philosophy, you never will have a Big 12 rivalry….ever.

    Let’s face it, there’s nothing to gain for WVU playing this game, but really, is there anything to gain playing lesser opponents in Nov-Dec except wins and home court crowd/concession money.

  6. JP says:

    Blundering Herd, Thundering T***

  7. Mack says:

    In my opinion, claiming that WVU and Marshall shouldn’t play in basketball makes WVU look petty. There isn’t a single argument you can make for WVU not playing Marshall that you can stay consistent with OTHER THAN “Marshall isn’t very good but always plays very well against West Virginia, thus, Marshall can beat West Virginia and give WVU a very bad loss for its tournament resume.”

    Other possible arguments that don’t hold water:

    Marshall is a nobody. (WVU has a bunch of lesser nobodies and comparable nobodies on its schedule).

    WVU doesn’t like playing Marshall in Charleston. (WVU is about to play William & friggin’ Mary in Charleston).

    The game doesn’t make any money. (It does.)

    The fans don’t care about it. (They do).

    The players don’t care about it. (If true, there are many other games the players don’t care about).

    It’s not a rivalry. (I think it is a rivalry for the reasons stated by Mr. Casazza. Even if it isn’t, who cares?)

    “Anyhow, Huggins really tempered the Capital Classic the day before the game, suggesting Virginia Tech was scheduled to give the team a rival”

    Isn’t this the same guy who said that proximity creates rivalries? Isn’t Morgantown closer to Huntington than Blacksburg?

  8. Rugger says:

    A game becomes a rivalry when games are competitive over time and both teams receive comparable credit for beating the other.

    Notre Dame and USC are 2,089 miles apart.

  9. Mack says:

    By the way, I think Joe Manchin needs to intervene on this cheerleader contest and make sure that they compete every year. The state demands it.

  10. Spatial Angel says:

    SexuALHealin44? Sounds like a future congressman.

  11. Ted says:

    Wow, WVU won and Huggins still whines–classic!

    Go ahead Coach–don’t play Marshall every season. Then you can add another Frostburg State or maybe even West Liberty.

    Jeepers that guy is a real piece of work.

  12. SheikYbuti says:

    Speaking strictly for myself, the inability to obtain decent, lower-level seats and the prospect of paying an outrageous $32 for lousy, upper-level seats made attending this event a nonstarter.

  13. Karl says:

    I like that we play this game. It’s a service to the in-state fans that WVU gets to play at least one game per year somewhere besides Morgantown. It’s not like football, where the limited number of noncon games make them such a precious commodity. Is this opponent not far more interesting than someone like a Loyola? They should schedule this game during weeks when the students are on a holiday break, when the home attendance would suck anyway.

  14. Dann White says:

    You have violated the “never involve your wife in your favorite pastime” rule (bedroom activities excluded). I once took my ex-wife to a football game. Even though she only occasionally asked what was going on, her knowledge being about what Andy Griffith claimed in “What it Was Was Football”, she did force me to carry a lot of superfluous weight to the stadium which turned out to be hot chocolate, blankets, and various eats, wrapped in such a way they got by the gate-keepers.
    She then set about making nice with some out-of-place Pitt fans and being critical of my comments toward their team. She had determined that they somehow rated “neighbor” treatment, despite their obvious Allegheny River smell.
    The whole thing was sort of like taking the wife along to watch you make love to the babysitter – it just didn’t feel right.
    I think the present Mrs White would ruin the experience by constantly telling me that West Virginia is a usurper of the Virginia name, and that her alma mater, UVA (ugh!) is the “Ivy League of the South”, (don’t they realize the Ivy League is not a scholastic honor, but an athletic conference?) and that it was founded by Thomas Jefferson, and on and on and on.
    In other words: Some things are meant to be shared and cherished with your spouse,
    Happy Holidays Mackstradamus (and Mrs. Mack, and any little Macks or GrandMacks as well)
    Your friend,

  15. Rugger says:

    Worlds colliding, Dann.

    “taking the wife along to watch you make love to the babysitter – it just didn’t feel right.”. Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

  16. JC says:

    Nearly everything about this game lends itself to bagging it with the next trash run. Here’s why…..
    The civic center is junk (WiFi, food, rims)
    The players obviously hate it (both teams)
    The TV coverage is terrible (crappy HD/not HD)
    The fans don’t care anymore (no one attends)
    Frank Giardina’s wig gets worse every year…..

    Trying to foce these two schools into a rivalry will never create a rivalry……

  17. glibglub says:

    The real tragedy of this game was the long wait for a table at downtown restaurants.

  18. The 25314 says:

    The Civic Center is dilapidated, but who cares about the wifi? It’s a basketball game, not a coffee shop.

    The rims argument is just as tired. Both teams are playing on the same rims. I’ve seen many a high schooler who had no problem making a shot in that building.

  19. Mike Casazza says:

    I care about the WiFi. Thought I was pretty clear with the reason, too. If not: You cover the game during the game. If you can’t connect to update via Twitter or a blog or to post a halftime story, your job is then compromised. That’s not a superficial complaint. That’s a 2013 complaint.

  20. ccteam says:

    Game should be played. It carries more interest than WV vs. some other team from Conference USA, Mid-American, Sunbelt, ect. team that they would play in its place.

  21. Mack says:

    “Nobody goes.”

    Here is the attendance for the last five WVU games:


    Can you guess which game was against Marshall? Someone somewhere stated that the Chesapeake Energy sponsor somehow guarantees that both teams make good money on the game.

    The worst aspect of the games are the guys like Ted. For some reason, any WVU/Marshall game in any sport brings the worst out of both team’s fan bases.

  22. roopoo says:

    By your logic than JC no one cares about basketball in Morgantown either anymore considering this game outdrew every home game to date. Yes it wasn’t sold out, but it was a decent size crowd.

  23. Shoot4show says:

    Mike, have you thought about a cellular mobile hotspot? It provides a cellular link to the Internet, and multiple WiFi enabled devices connect to it via its self-generated WiFi signal. It does require a decent cellular signal, but it might prove to be a valuable backup.

  24. Mike Casazza says:

    I have, but WiFi is a sore spot in one place. Not worth the expense, really.

  25. jtmountaineer says:

    My rims argument is not that shots are hindered; I just can’t stand that sound like a meat cleaver bouncing off a step ladder.

  26. netbros says:

    If the shooters swished every shot you wouldn’t hear the rims.

  27. JC says:

    Is the attendance number the amount of tickets sold, or the amount of butts in seats? Hearing from folks who went and seeing crowd shots on TV, I suspect the former (though I could be wrong).

  28. Mack says:

    The only patch of trike empty seats was in the upper deck behind the rim on the Marshall side. The bottom level was full. The rest of the arena was mostly full.

  29. Mack says:

    Trike = truly

  30. 2013 Complaint says:

    I wish I was taller.

  31. Brother X says:

    glibglub says:
    December 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    Hey, we’ve seen feats of strength in past years. The way I look at it, it was high time for the airing of grievances.

    winner winner

    Anyway, I absolutely agree with Mike on the wi-fi issue. It’s friggin 2013. If the city of Charleston is serious about making things happen in town they have GOT to make upgrading/replacing/modernizing/all of the above the Civic Center a TOP priority. It’s pathetic.

    Speaking of pathetic; can we rebid on TV rights for this game? So that the provider of said coverage might maybe be able to broadcast in HD.

    Also…whoever made the friggin decision on Charleston area TV to preempt Michigan/Arizona for the Capital Classic WOMENS game needs run out of town on a rail. Lord.

  32. pknocker40 says:

    (Hearty laugh) I’d like to see that complaint get rectified!

  33. JP says:

    Sheik, sorry you couldn’t get decent tickets.

    I saw the gov, Joe Bob Goodwin and Carte Goodwin the the front row behind the scorer’s table.

    Who says politics doesn’t pay?

  34. SheikYbuti says:

    In fairness, I probably didn’t try all that hard. I know a couple of those guys, so thanks for the heads up on who to hit up for tickets next year.

  35. JC says:

    Speaking of scandal, any news on the DeFo/OSU front?

  36. WVManiac says:

    My Biggest problem with the Marshall/WVU game is that WVU employees do everything for the game…. All marketing, the programs, the radio/TV setup. Marshall administration just shows up. It’s ridiculous that WVU doesn’t care about playing in the game anyway and Marshall makes WVU do all the in game promotions.

    Even if WVU does get money from Chesapeake, Chesapeake isn’t running the game so that falls on WVU and they are spending the money that “earned” from the game

    Another thing about the game “fans” might care about it but it’s obvious the students don’t care especially from the WVU side. It is THEIR team right?

    Remember a few years ago when WVU played Oklahoma in Charleston and it actually sold better than any Capital Classic I had gone too and it was on TV too.

    I will say the Rims have improved, but maybe a good story is the lighting issue. I think its a seriously problem with playing in the CCC that you practice and shoot with background (upper level) lighting then during the game the lights are turned off.

  37. JP says:

    Sheik, if you know any of those three and it didn’t occur to you to ask them for a ticket, you really weren’t trying that hard.

  38. hershy112 says:

    I’m late to this process, but…

    As someone who was in attendance, a cellular hotspot is most certainly not an option for Mike. Good luck getting any data to go across on a cellular network during the game.

    In addition, there were several empty orange seats in the lower section. Don’t know that I would call it “full”.