WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

I think they’ll listen to Huggins now

If nothing else, Bob Huggins is opportunistic. Not only did he swoop in and return to his alma mater after a group of mostly underclassmen won the NIT last season, which is a far better situation than he would have inherited in 2002, but he picked a pretty good time to call out his student fans.

The coach pointed out Monday night during his weekly appearance on the Bob Huggins Statewide Sportsline that only 400 students showed up at a recent game at the Coliseum. The students are alloted 4,000 tickets per game.

“I continue to hear from people who say ‘I would love to buy season tickets but the only thing available now is 5-6 rows from the top on the non-student side,” Huggins said on the program. “No one would love to have 4,000 students at the game more than I would. But if the students are not going to come to the games, then we probably should sell those tickets to people who want good seats.”

Huggins said in the 18 games last year, university students only used the full allotment of tickets once.

“Everybody wants them there. And when 4,000 students are there, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere,” he said. “But if they are not going to go, those tickets really shouldn’t sit there unused. That’s just my perspective.”

You can say things like that and exactly how much it resonates depends on various factors. Certainly performance is one of those factors, so when you say that, then back it up by going on the road and crushing a SEC team by 29 points on national television, I’d say you’ve made a pretty good argument. 

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Open forum needs you … and you need an open forum

http://blogs.cisco.com/news/uncle%20sam.gif

So I’m stuck in traffic on the runway in Atlanta this afternoon — which, correct me if I’m wrong, kind of defeats the purpose of flying — and the gentleman next to me spots the West Virginia University men’s basketball media guide as I’m writing the preview for Wednesday night’s game.

Obviously, he wondered what the hell happened Saturday night.

Him: What the hell happened Saturday night?
Me: …I’m not exactly sure I can summarize my surprise. It’d be like you won the lottery even though you didn’t know you bought a ticket. But only the complete opposite.
Him: (Confused look)
Me: I mean, you just never saw that coming. Ever. What I can tell you is that an entire state and fan base is completely devastated.
Him: ‘Ya think?

His simplicity was deep. I think there is devastation, but I don’t know for certain. How could I know? I’d like to think my Cleveland connection would give me some insight, but I’m guessing that is a fate far less cruel.

I do know, however, that putting my thoughts into words really helped me get over some stuff. Consider this my prescription for your recovery. Post a comment here and share with everyone your thoughts and feelings, your stories about dreams becoming nightmares.

Don’t stop there, either. Help heal the Mountaineer nation by sending this along and encouraging others to do the same. It’s group therapy. I’m here for you and you’re there for everyone who wants to chime in. I think it’ll help … or your money back.

P.S.
A graphic and only after 148 posts!

Coaches’ poll revealed

Sorry for the delay. Crazy day of Heisman Trophy voting and preparations for the Fiesta Bowl. It’s settled now, though, and we’ll get back to business…Wednesday. Travel day to Birmingham, Ala., tomorrow for the SEC-Big East Invitational.

This gives me time to restructure some blogistics. To be honest, there were some neat things planned under the assumption West Virginia would play in the national championship game.

Woops.

We’ll get to know Oklahoma a little bit in the days to come, but I thought it was interesting to see how the coaches voted in the poll, as revealed by USA Today. Rich Rodriguez had WVU at No. 8 and Fiesta Bowl opponent Oklahoma at No. 5. The Sooners got their No. 1 votes from Coach Bob Stoops and from the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier. Hawaii’s No. 1 vote came from old school Hal Mumme of New Mexico State.

Friday feedback

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to what makes this blog so great … that being you and the things you say about the things I think.

It’s been so long and, indeed, such an eventful week that I feel the need to review some highlights.

I got my Heisman ballot in the mail.
Rich Rodriguez got grilled.
WVU was ranked No. 1 (sort of.)
A blog made a big mistake.
Jesus! He likes WVU.
Someone went streaking.
Men’s basketball still exists. 
Rodriguez remembered Pitt.
Pitt formulated a plan.
The ACC smarted.
I confused people.
WVU threatened people.
Dave Wannstedt coached.

Off to the feedback. As always, comments appear as printed. In other words, the rumor is true: John Kilbourn wasn’t unemployed for long.

Erinn said:

WWKD?

(what would Kige do?)

About the Heisman Trophy? I think you’ll be delighted to see WKWD.

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There are many ways to describe the mismatch that takes place  at Mountaineer field Saturday night and I’ve seen — and written — many of them this week. Few, if any, are as eloquent and accurate as this from Times West Virginia columnist Bob Hertzel.

There is this scene in the first Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” where Harrison Ford, playing the adventurous archeologist, is threatened by a sword-wielding assassin who menacingly waves his sword in threatening loops only to have our hero pull out a pistol and casually shoot him.There is a moral to this one-sided confrontation: Never bring a sword to a gunfight.

We think of this today as Pitt prepares to bring a butter knife of an offense to Morgantown on this Saturday evening to challenge a West Virginia team armed with college football’s equivalent of a nuclear arsenal.

It is as hard to argue as it is to forget the basis of the column, that being the … quizzical … comical … ok, absurd line from Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt at halftime against WVU two years ago.

And since we’re close to wrapping up this week, I have to admit I really thought I could make it without posting Pat White meowing. Turns out I was wrong. Still hilarious.

Choose your reputation

Barring the completely unexpected, West Virginia’s football team is winning Saturday night and punching its ticket to the national championship game.

May God help Morgantown for what may come next. I can see the stadium from where I live. I’m scared to death to walk home after the game.

There should be no couch burnings and no rioting and looting throughout town. Sadly, it’s probably going to happen regardless of whatever preemptive measures the university and the town might take.

What I and many others wonder about is the celebration at Mountaineer Field. This has the potential to be the most magical night in the university’s history. There’s really no arguing that. What we don’t know is what will be the memory.

There will be tears, but will it be from the emotion or the pepper spray?

As one e-mailer said:

… it all started with Va.Tech in 2003 and the ridiculous pepperspraying of the crowd.  Now we’ve forgotten how to be a crazy crowd, and that’s called behavior modification.  It worked, but too well.  Now is the perfect time to make amends.  Crowds rush the field at games every week.  Very few are injured.  Who has more of a reason than our students do this week?  Please don’t embarrass us on national TV by having too many cops, police dogs and clubs present on the sidelines for the entire game and then come up with a plan to allow the students on the field in an orderly way to celebrate the most important victory in Mountaineer history with the team, there fellow students.  Today in the Morgantown paper, officials are saying they will not allow anyone on the field after the game.  Please, let’s all figure out a compromise before it’s too late.  

Well put, I thought.

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Anonymity no more!

Perhaps you were perusing message boards yesterday and saw something like this. Or this. Seems it’s all over the place now. Apparently it was read or referenced on Rich Rodriguez’s radio show last night, too. It’s even flying across the Internet, be it MySpace, Facebook or forward e-mails. I know I got it in my inbox this morning. In fact, I’ll share with you another e-mail from a reader of this little blog.

Mike,

I hope you saw this…its awesome!!! Maybe you can find out who wrote it? It’s anonymous.

This person then passed along a copy of the poem. It’s an e-mail I’ll cherish forever. Why? Because I can introduce you to the writer.

Ta-da! 

This news will eventually reach campus, I’m sure.

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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