WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

Note to Hoosiers: Have him sign the contract

So it seems Kelvin Sampson is finished at Indiana, and presumably in major college basketball as well, because he’s a cheater and maybe even a liar. The Hoosiers will be coached the remainder of the season by an interim coach.

Phew. This all sounds familiar. Coaching change. NCAA violations… Wait for it… Wait for it. Oh, I remember now.

It was worse. Villanova, though, provides proof that life is weird and fates change quickly in the Big East. And to think, Villanova had it going without its best player.

Scottie Reynolds went to the bench with his second foul at 13:27, with all zeros on his stat sheet, aside from those personals. Didn’t matter. Dwayne Anderson, who’s been making a difference since he was inserted into the starting lineup, had 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the arc. Until then, he’d been 6-for-26 from that distance. He also had four steals. And Corey Stokes came off the bench to contribute 13 points on eight shots in only 8 minutes.

It was that kind of night. Maybe the best thing about the long college season is that it’s a long season.

You make the call

The one time I will admit ESPN is the go-to source is when Joe Lunardi busts out his Bracketology. He’s just really good — really cool?– and manages to kill the thrill that used to be Selection Sunday. He’s so accurate he generally excites or depresses fan bases well before the brackets are released.

Well, he has WVU in, though with six games to go, and what a season-defining six-game stretch this well be: at Villanova, vs. Providence, at DePaul, at UConn, vs. Pitt, at St. John’s.

So I ask you to consider the remaining schedule and the Big East Tournament to answer these two questions:

1. How does the rest of the season unfold?

2. What will it take for the Mountaineers to make the NCAA Tournament?

Finally!

A while back, we picked up on Bob Huggins’ sideline attire and how the man once known for the pullover was doning designer suits. You’ve by now noticed Huggins no longer wears the suits after the debacle against Cincinnati and is back in pullovers. Anyhow, when researching the initial story I stumbled upon a tribute to the Big East’s fashion icon, Villanova’s well-dressed Jay Wright.

Trouble was, it wasn’t at all timely and needed to wait until WVU played the Wildcats. Well, the Mountaineers travel to Villanova tomorrow for an absolutely enormous game and I now have an excuse to run this. True, there are similar tributes to Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer and even Owen Schmitt, but this has a, um, style of its own.

11. When Jay Wright showers, the soap gets cleaned. 

24. Rudy Gay used to be named Rudy Straight until he met Jay Wright.

What Jeff Mullen likes to do

So much has been said and read about WVU’s new offensive coordinator, Jeff Mullen, that the time has come to show some of the (familiar?) antics provided by Wake Forest’s offenses the past two seasons.

Mullen wasn’t a coordinator, at least by title, but he was involved in multiple facets of the offense, including play-calling. Mullen was the quarterbacks coach, as he is with the Mountaineers, and I find it extremely interesting to see how the quarterbacks were used as throwers, runners, blockers and, yes, receivers. No offense to Riley Skinner, who burst upon the scene when Ben Mauk was hurt in the beginning of the 2006-07 season, but he’s not nearly as athletic as is Pat White. Imagine White doing some of the things you see in the video as Mullen takes the WVU offense and paints it black.

Who’s enthused? Me neither

Busy Sunday for Rich Rodriguez. First, he’s the main event on “Outside the Lines” (more on that in a bit) and then he makes his much-anticipated public debut at the Michigan-Ohio State men’s basketball game.

Remember, Jim Tressel used that stage brilliantly when he was introduced in 2000. Rich was, shall we say, not quite as committed.

Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez didn’t make any bold predictions or talk any trash Sunday at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Ohio State.

But he did make one promise to fans on the Crisler Arena floor when it came to the kind of football his team will play against the Buckeyes and every other opponent.

“When you come in the Big House, when the maize and blue come out of that tunnel, I guarantee you they will play hard and they will play physical,” said Rodriguez amidst cheers.

Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised because WVU coaches who go to Michigan aren’t the best motivators. Maybe there’s something to this. The Mountaineers beat UCLA that day, despite the locker room let down, and the Wolverines won Sunday — and don’t look now, but Michigan suddenly gets it.

As for “OTL”…

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Nice work if you can get it

West Virginia released the salaries for the assistant coaches on the football staff.

Friday Feedback

Let’s begin with blatant self-promotion. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Sunday morning is devoted to Rodriguez v. West Virginia University and features some familiar names and faces. I doubt I’ll watch, but I fear that, um, fear will pull me toward the television. Second, I had what I thought was a pretty provocative conversation yesterday with Jeff Millar, who writes the Tank McNamara comic strip. Those frames have highlighted RR v. WVU all week. Millar had some intriguing insight on all sides of the drama.

He does, however, extend more blame to Rodriguez than to anyone else.

“It’s hard to feel any sympathy for Rodriguez since he got apparently what he wanted and now has a little minor matter of the amount of money to be negotiated with his former employer,” he said. “West Virginia, I guess, feels shafted to some degree, but do you really want someone coaching for you who would walk out on a contract? Walking out on a contract reveals a great deal about a person. It’s so strange that in the sports industry it can happen with such regularity.”

His sympathy for WVU fans comes with an addendum because he can’t understand the extreme emotions involved.

“I feel sorry for people who sit and stare at the wall and cry maybe because Rodriguez has left West Virginia,” he said. “At the same time it has to tell people that maybe your life priorities need to be examined. You get in a room by yourself and suck down six-packs and stare at the wall and get on ESPN message boards and rail obscenities at anything and anybody. What’s that life like? And that’s not in any way confined to West Virginia. It’s widespread.”

On to the Feedback. As always comments appear as posted.

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Meg Bulger may or may not make it rain

You know what’s a good, if not oft told story? Meg Bulger playing and playing pretty well this season. Really, we’ve kind of written her off, what, three times now? There was the torn left ALC at Madison Square Garden Jan. 29, 2006, then a second tear of the same ligament in her rehabilitation that cost her all of last season.

Well, she’s back this season and putting up some really good numbers on a loaded team. The Mountaineers are 20-3, ranked No. 11 in the country, in a quasi-tie for first place in the Big East and take with them a nine-game winning streak into Saturday’s home game against DePaul.

Remember, too, that Bulger “tweaked” her knee against Marshall — I’m still waiting on an official definition of “tweaked” from the SID — and missed games against Gerogetown and Seton Hall. She’s played in the past two and had 14 points last night against Pitt. Bulger made 4 of 8 3-point shots and was accused afterward of raining down 3s upon the Panthers.

Always the bashful one, Bulger deflected praise.

“We’re riding high now so it’s fun and easy for me to come in and do well when the team is doing so well. They make it so much easier for me to come back and be able to play hard. If I need to shoot 3s, I shoot them. If I don’t one game, LaQuita (Owens) makes it rain — wait, did I just say that?”

Yes, yes you did. You’ll remember Pacman Jones (allegedly) made it rain about a year ago now in Las Vegas and got into a heap of trouble afterward. I happen to think Meg was referencing another example of people making it rain.

Getting to know Jeff Mullen, WVU’s new offensive coordinator, it’s clear he’s a competent guy with a list of ideas to make this thing work for the Mountaineers.

“I think you’ve got to be balanced,” he said. “You’ve got to run the football to win. I don’t think you can ever get away from being a physical, dominant offensive line that can run the football any time you want. I want the quarterback that can run and throw and I don’t ever want to ever get backed into a corner where you have to throw. I want to throw and I want to throw on my own terms. You don’t want to be forced into a corner when there are too many people in the box because all you can do is run. Then you’re just hurting the football team.”

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I found those last two sentences to be very interesting.)

Mullen is pretty excited about Pat White, Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, Brandon Hogan, Dorell Jalloh and an entire offensive line returning in tact. He’s meeting with White regularly and determining what the soon-to-be senior likes to do and would like to do in the offense. By spring ball, Mullen will hit the ground running … and throwing … and really wants to open the offense up and win games with some big numbers. 

Speaking of big numbers, which are attainable because there’s a lot of talent and productivity returning for WVU, consider this little nugget. Gone are running back Steve Slaton, fullback Owen Schmitt and receiver Darius Reynaud. Together those three combined for 9,170 yards of total offense and 93 touchdowns … in three years!