WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

ACC…how’s that working out for you?

The “ACC” title game is Saturday and it’s a rather interesting battle between Boston College and Virginia Tech. And when I say “rather,” what I mean to say is “not at all.”

But success away from the stadium has been dampened by events inside of it. When No. 6 Virginia Tech and No. 12 Boston College — two of the former Big East schools whose defections made expansion possible — kick off Saturday, they will do so before roughly 20,000 empty seats.

“This is a game that’s evolving and developing,” Swofford said. “Games have to develop their own history and tradition. I think as we go along, the importance of the game and what it means will come. Our satisfaction will come when every game, regardless of the matchup, is played to a full house.”

Uh huh. Developing. In three years, three of the six participants have been the Big East defectors.  Miami is coming up, rest assured, Virginia Tech is probably better suited for recruiting and rivalry purposes in the ACC and Boston College is always … well, the Eagles are never terrible. Those three teams aren’t going away and it could very well “develop” into a pattern where the other ACC teams will have a hard time getting what was once theirs. They’ll be very happy about that, yes?

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Let’s be honest: Pitt has very little chance Saturday night as a veritable buzzsaw of emotions, momentum and circumstance awaits the Panthers at Mountaineer Field. There is a chance, remote as it may be, that they find a way to motivate themselves and play well enough to quiet WVU and sneak away with the win late. See: Stanford v. USC.

So it came as a surprise to see how the defensive coordinator is inspiring his players this week.

The questioner was searching for a word – containing, controlling, stopping? – to capture the challenge of defending West Virginia’s read-option offense when Paul Rhoads interrupted.

“Stopping it,” Pitt’s defensive coordinator said with a laugh, “hasn’t even been brought up this week.”

Not quite Pacino in “Any Given Sunday,” which is odd because it just works to well.

By the way, I’d add a link to the “Inches” speech at YouTube, but there’s some language in there I just can’t endorse. The video and the message within? That I can endorse.

Rich v. Marino: Call it a tie

What helps make the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry a little more unique is that the coaches both played at and graduated from the teams they now lead into Saturday’s 100th Backyard Brawl. Not only that, but they grew up not too far from the schools and really exhibited what to took to make it back then.

Wannstedt was an undersized offensive tackle from Baldwin, Pa., who would take a summer job working in the steel mills with his father. Rodriguez grew up in Grant Town, W.Va., in Marion County, as the son of a coal miner. He went to WVU as a walk-on safety and left with a scholarship.

And when the annual game comes around, it’s always interesting to listen to them talk about what the rivalry means because they have intimate insight as player and now coach. Rodriguez reflected on the 1983 game the Mountaineers won on Jeff Hostetler’s bootleg touchdown run, a game in which Rodriguez played.

“Not much,” he said.

He had a prominent role a year later.

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Re: Blog and column

I’ve gotten and read your e-mails about the blog and its busted links to other Daily Mail sites. I’m out of my league trying to repair that, so I forwarded the news along to the proper people. Thanks for the heads up. It should be fixed shortly.

As for the tip about my column which may or may not have appeared online in a legible form for you today, I can handle this one. It follows the jump.

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Lines of the night

West Virginia crushed something called the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore — initials: UMES; motto: We a mess –110-44 in the third-biggest victory in school history Tuesday.

Line of the night 1
Ted Talkington: 5 points, 2-for-2 FG, 1-for-1 3PT, 4 assists, 1 block (!), 9 minutes.

Thinking out loud here, but could Teddy be a regular soon? He doesn’t hurt you. Ever.

Line of the night 2
Me: I wonder how many people ordered this pay-per-view?
Another reporter: I don’t know, but when you get the answer tell me because then I’ll have the answer for “How many people got cheated?”

We find fun and sometimes mean ways to pass the time in games when one team is ahead by 70.

 Line of the night 3
Johnny West: I’ve got two more 3-pointers than my dad.

I looked it up. It’s true.

Well, the cat is out of the bag

There is no doubting Dave Wannstedt’s pedigree and he crafted his resume at the highest and most successful levels of college and professional football. Defense, of course, is his game and he faces quite a challenge against West Virginia Saturday night. His first and second games against the Mountaineers haven’t gone particularly well.

He revealed his strategy for round three Monday and maybe he’s onto something.

“They come up with a lot of big plays so it is imperative to make them have eight- or 10-play drives. If they can hold the ball for eight or 10 plays and score on you — then more power to them. What you can’t do is give them a 60-yard run and then two plays later they score. You have no chance doing that”

Then again, maybe not. The Mountaineers have 58 scoring drives this season and the average length is eight plays. Furthermore, they’re scoring a touchdown on every 12 snaps, so they are capable and they proved Saturday against Connecticut what they’re capable of if they hold onto the ball.

Pitt vs. WVU everyone. Proof this brings out the best in all of us.

Name that streaker

I call on you today to help me get to the bottom of this mystery. Seems a certain pandemonium overtook Lakeview Friday evening when Arkansas topped LSU and opened the door for West Virginia to play for the national championship.

The excitement was obvious and, shall we say, very revealing.

It is difficult to sum up all that went on at that moment, but Eric Wicks managed to capture the exuberance when he offered a report on what he observed.

“Someone was streaking in the hallways,” the senior safety said, protecting the identity of the streaker.

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USA Today likes WVU

First the Mountaineers grab the top spot in the USA Today poll, then they get the 800-word treatment from columnist Jon Saraceno… who looks a little like … I don’t want to say it, but you know you’re thinking it, too.

Quickly, before lightning strikes me, Saraceno observed Saturday’s 66-21 beatdown and admired the quarterback.

When it comes to football DNA, decoding West Virginia’s genetic football blueprint begins with its quarterback. I think White is the most exciting player in the nation. At 6-2, 190, the junior may also be the best pound-for-pounder when it comes to bronze trophies.

“There he goes — strike a pose,” teased Mountaineers safety Ryan Mundy as White greeted the media.

White won’t make anyone’s first team All-Quotable. No matter. The fleet playmaker from Alabama belongs on any Heisman voter’s list for serious consideration.

He accelerates like a Ferrari. His moves? Just plain sick. White puts the zig in zag, the wiggle in waggle. He’s an efficient passer, too. Against UConn, the elusive quarterback ran wild for 186 yards on only 16 carries, scored two touchdowns and passed for another. During one downfield dash, he gave some poor UConn defender a stiff-arm, knocking him flat, leaving White to remark, “That came out of nowhere — I was excited.”

Neat blog…

bad guest.

Help the good folks commemorate their grand opening. Or re-opening. Whatever, just go and look around.