I have to admit, one of my favorite times every week comes Sunday afternoon when the Associated Press publicizes the ballots of those who vote in its football poll. First, it’s a brilliant idea because it adds some accountability to the process. Just ask Jon Wilner.
Anyhow, across West Virginia and wherever fans and alumni pick up their newspaper today, the polls have never been more anticipated. The Mountaineers are No. 1 in the coaches poll — those results aren’t publicized until the end of the year, which is lame — and No. 2 in theÂ BCS, Harris poll and the AP poll … though by 30 points. The publication of the votes this weekÂ is pretty interesting and I’d like to share with you my findings.
No posting today. That would be antisocial since I’m with the wife and her family and, for some reason, they like me. TheÂ FridayÂ Feedback is unlikely, too. The comments have been minimal this week, which is to be expected, but I’m also expecting a tryptophan hangover.
Here’s food for thought, so to speak, as we approach Saturday’s de facto Big East championship game. West Virginia pretty much mauled Connecticut the last time they played in Morgantown and that’s the first time I remember thinking, “Holy crap, Pat White isÂ really good.” Don’t get me wrong. He showed signs throughout that redshirt freshman season, but this one sequence solidified everything I suspected.
… if for no other reason than the fact that no matter what Rich Rodriguez says or does, he cannot free himself from connections to other college football coaching jobs. There have been church mouse quiet whispers thatÂ schools might be interested and, let’s be honest, why wouldn’t they be allowed to dream? Nevermind Rodriguez is handsomely compensated at his alma mater, where he is from, and just might have a juggernaut program on the cusp of making The Leap. Schools want the best and, at this stage of the process, anyone is a candidate.Â So why not Rodriguez?
That’s the nature of the profession, or, shall we say, the business.
Yet on Tuesday, with his team 96 hours from a game that determines the Big East championship and figures into who plays in the BCS title game, Rodriguez was asked about not one, but two jobs. I’d say two openings, but one of the jobs mentioned isn’t even open. Really, shouldn’t Dennis Franchione be out at Texas A&M before you ask Rodriguez about the job?
Here’s a transcript of Tuesday’s throwdown:
… if for no other reason than Rich Rodriguez is coaching football at West Virginia today and not at Alabama. You remember that, right?
Regardless, you won’t soon forget whatÂ Crimson TideÂ
carpetbagger coach Nick Saban said Monday following an unacceptable-in-Tuscaloosa loss to Louisiana Monroe.
Coach Nick Saban described the humbling defeat in almost apocalyptic terms Monday, mentioning the 9-11 terrorist attacks and Pearl Harbor in talking about how his team must rebound like America did from a “catastrophic event.”
“Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event,” Saban said. “It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.”
College basketball has “One Shining Moment” to celebrate the NCAA Tournament, but college football has the shining moment. So good was the ending to Cal v. Stanford in 1982 that it is simply called “The Play” and I think that no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you can always watch and listen again.
Today is the 25th anniversary of The Play and there are just so many good things about it:Â Â
> The controversial third lateral when the Cal player might be down
> The subsequent panic by the play-by-play man
> The acrobatic fifth lateral when the Cal player leaps into three Stanford players and blindly pitches to a teammate
> The spastic reaction by the play-by-play … “THE BAND IS OUT ON THE FIELD!”
> The seek-and-destroy job on the trombone player
> The improvised, yet entirely accurate description at the conclusion of the play.
Noel Devine is a lot of things. Fast, strong, humble, quiet, likable and, just maybe, Next. ESPN The Magazine is preparing its annual “Next” edition in which it touts who is the next big thing in sports and WVU’s freshman running back is one of the five candidates.
Not sure about the assertion Steve Slaton is “likely NFL-bound next year,” but I do love that quote from Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen.
“That little kid they put in there, he can run. I didnâ€™t realize heâ€™s as fast as he is. Heâ€™s pretty elusive, too.â€
Remember when it was a big risk to recruit that littleÂ kid? There were so many question marks before he signed with West Virginia last winter that people were genuinely concerned about the trouble that might come with his services. Turns out that was just another instance in which people had to have an opinion and it ultimately did not matter.Â Good kid, good player, great future.
… and I couldn’t be more hesitant than to grab a pen and ink my top three. The deadline to vote is Dec. 5 and, personally, I don’t think any ballots should be allowed before Washington and Hawaii finish up sometime after 2 a.m. Dec. 2.
Since the start of October, I’ve had a short list and it’s been rearranged every week. I think I have a top three and I know I have two of the three and I even have those two ranked. I’m not divulging here — maybe later; maybe — but I think it’s fair to point out what the criteria is, as defined by the Heisman Trophy Trust:
“…selecting the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2007.”
Beautifully vague, yes?Â Nowhere does it say what is outstanding or how a player’s … oustandingness … is to be evaluated. That, to me, is the bestÂ part about this.Â It’s a completely subjective contest that is based more on a voter’s criteriaÂ than anything else, which I happen to like. Players have an entire seasonÂ to prove their outstandingnessÂ (that “word” isn’t so bad after you hear it a few times) and how they make that impact upon the voters will differ. At the end, though, one player emerges and does so despite the variety of ways people make their votes. To win is to have proved one’s outstandingness across the board, no matter the criteria.
This is all I will say on the matter: This is not like bowl eligibility. Everyone is to be considered at the end of the season, and while I think a player’s candidacy is affected by the team’s success or lack thereof, it’s still an individual award.Â
Back when Bob Huggins was hired as West Virginia’s men’s basketball coach, there was a brief time when many people thought super-recruit Michael Beasely would follow. Trouble was, Beasley had signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Kansas State and as far as the NCAA is concerned, those signatures are to play for a school and not a coach. That meant Beasley couldn’t simply ask out of the deal because Huggins, the coach he wanted to play for, was no longer the coach.
Kansas State didn’t let it happen, either, and Beasley remained property of the Wildcats. And yes,Â I said property.
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