WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

Backcourt strikes back

Considering WVU’s lack of size and depth in the post and the emphasis on pressure when playing defense, it’s fairly safe to say the men’s basketball team will go as far as the guards will take it. In other words, while Thursday was rather disappointing, Sunday was extremely promising.

There are faster, stronger and more athletic backcourts in the Big East and there are guards that are better on offense or defense, but one wonders if any tandem is as bright and as efficient as is WVU’s duo of Darris Nichols and Alex Ruoff. To that, there probably isn’t a backcourt a team relies upon as much, either. Oh, Villanova and Marquette need their guards a lot, but you can’t say they need them more than WVU.  Performances and subsequent results prove as much

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Friday Feedback

Try as I might, I cannot escape this “Groundhog Day” feeling. It seems every day for the last month or so has been the same. Who’s coaching? Who’s coming? Who’s interviewing? Who’s reporting? Who’s right? It will end and hopefully soon, but it lives on another day here as the return of the Friday Feedback is dominated by coaching news.

As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, I’m no editer.

JP says:

Don’t forget Taaffe’s recruiting areas in the football hotbeds of various lightly populated counties in Maryland, Canada, upstate New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

http://umterps.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/taaffe_charlie00.html (scroll to bottom)

Mike, why wasn’t it reported that Tiger-Cats President Scott Mitchell said you West Virginia media-types are a bunch of hosers and the lot of you should take off, eh? Hacks!

This is the obvious, and I feel anticipated, starting point. You know by now everything that was said Thursday by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to refute reports their coach, Charlie Taaffe, would join WVU’s football staff. For a day, at least, it was correct. Friday arrived and Coach Bill Stewart announced David Lockwood would coach cornerbacks, Steve Dunlap safeties and Chris Beatty running backs. No Taaffe, but no Doc Holliday, either, and no one doubts Holliday is coming. In fact, Stewart has ANOTHER teleconference at 11 a.m. tomorrow, presumably for the same purpose as today’s. (EDIT: Stewart announced Holliday’s hiring Saturday morning.) The claim made by said president regarding an apology or retraction is … mysterious, to say the least. Taaffe did interview in Morgantown Tuesday and confirmed as much Thursday night, when he told Jim Laise of WVSports.com that a lot of what happens in the future depends on his contract with the Ticats. So to recap, there was an interview, there were discussions with the Ticats regarding the current contract and there is a decision to be made. Think of that as you read the denials from the team Thursday. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back…

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Upcoming schedule

Just about to leave Louisville and I’ll land in Pittsburgh at about the time Bill Stewart has his 2 p.m. teleconference. I’ll come back after that to discuss some things, hirings included. Too much went on yesterday too ignore.

Additionally, you all have contributed some really good comments and discussions this week, which is neither new nor a surprise. What has changed is my down time and that I have a little more of it now, which makes this a good time to revive Friday Feedback … though it might not be until Saturday. It’s the thought that counts, right?

What a day

Louisville thumps West Virginia and it’s a tertiary note on a rather busy day. No matter what anyone is saying — and I’m looking right at you, Canada — the football staff is falling into place and for some reason, Coach Bill Stewart has a teleconference at 2 p.m. today. I doubt it’s the beginning of some Friday Feedback — already taken — or to discuss his plans for the weekend.

All this stuff about the four assistant coaches should be settled and Charlie Taaffe will have to sit on one side of the fence. All I can say right now — and I promise, I intend to say much, much more later — is that Jim Laise of WVSports.com got Taaffe on the phone sometime after I left him at the basketball game and Taaffe confirmed meeting with Stewart and said he needed time to think about the job and to talk to his CFL team because he’s still under contract. This seems to fly in the face of what his CFL team was saying today, no?

Four new coaches

Quite a morning as news quickly broke that WVU football has four new assistant coaches. Expect official announcements as soon as the four clear the bureaucratic stuff and the university receives approved background checks. Looks like the running backs coach and offensive line coach will come soon.

The hiring of Dunlap and Lockwood isn’t a great surprise and Holliday is only a bit of a shock because he left a great situation — though $400K will persuade anyone — but the Charlie Taaffe hiring is the most startling. No one saw this coming and there is great upheaval in the great white north.

Hey, stop arguing about the Stewart hire!

Kige Ramsey has checked in and he approves! Someone tell Josh Jenkins…and make sure you recite Kige’s three reasons. Just don’t use that damned iPhone.

Off to Louisville…

Beilein v. Bilas

ESPN’s Jay Bilas has always seemed like a pretty neat guy, certainly smart enough to have a Juris Doctor from Duke, engaging enough to be a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, bright enough to speak on anything in college basketball and sharp enough to do a killer Bill Raftery impression. Onions!

Never got the impression he was particularly opinionated or, to say the least, ornery. Yet he showed me something when he put one man in his crosshairs.

Beilein has taken great pains to suggest that his players don’t know a basketball from a bowling ball, that his players are “learning how to play college basketball” and that when the Michigan coaches “give their wisdom to them, it’s got to be almost a Montessori experience.” What?! Beilein makes his players sound so stupid and clueless that it is insulting. First, and I say this as a guy who thinks that basketball is far more complicated than most seem to understand, to refer to your own basketball understanding as “wisdom” seems a bit much. Knowledge, yes. Wisdom, take a pill. Even John Wooden wouldn’t refer to his own knowledge as “wisdom.” Second, if your system is so complicated that you need to refer to recruited athletes and students admitted to the University of Michigan as the basketball equivalent of toddlers, maybe you should simplify things so you can compete favorably with Harvard, Central Michigan or Western Kentucky.

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In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a little busy around these parts, which explains the inexplicable because recent events have kept me from getting to the Ben Moffitt Story. It has all the elements of a Lifetime movie: young love, premature parents, football, frustrations and, of course, academic misconduct.

Shauna Moffitt, the wife of University of South Florida senior linebacker Ben Moffitt, said she wrote nearly every paper for him during his five years at USF and also completed two online courses for him.

“Ben Moffitt has never written a paper,” Shauna said. “Never. Ever. I love him, but he doesn’t know how to spell. He cheats.”

Ben Moffitt, 23, who filed for divorce on Thursday from his wife of five years, called the accusations “hearsay. That’s all I can say. It’s very unfortunate for my kids,” he said, referring all questions to his attorneys. Ben Moffitt left his wife and 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter on Nov. 11, Shauna said.

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Different people and places have had different reactions to WVU announcing Bill Stewart as its new football coach, but you could see the celebration coming in Stewart’s hometown of New Martinsville and you wondered how the people would cheer the hiring. Maybe they’d name a street after him or declare some date on the calendar Billy Stewart Day.

Nope. Turns out one place had a neat idea to honor a true meat and potatoes kind of guy.

When Stewart’s hiring was announced three days ago, signs and marquee boards dotted the town, congratulating Stewart on his new job. On Main Street, Quinet’s Court Restaurant was advertising a popular “Bill Stewart Special” — a 10-ounce strip streak with French fries for $5.95.

“We’re loving every minute of this, and we wanted to honor Bill Stewart for his great achievement with a permanent item on the menu,” said Jim Quinet, whose family has owned the popular diner since the mid-1930s. 

Just yesterday a friend of mine was showing me an e-mail a friend of his had forward along. Knowing the way the Internet and e-mail works, I wondered how I hadn’t seen that yet. True, I get many messages a day and I’ll admit I tend to ignore or delete ones simultaneously forwarded to me and a list of others. Yet I was sure I hadn’t seen this one, which was upsetting because it really did make me laugh.

Well, I opened the e-mail about 20 minutes ago and there it was, forwarded to me and about a zillion other people, but no less amusing…

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