Friday, December 28, 2007


Has the WVU head coaching search turned embarrassing yet? What about the lawsuit to collect $4 million from the former head coach? Does this embarrass the program or make the program look "serious"? I'm asking because I really don't know.

On one hand, I'm glad the University didn't just turn the head coaching job over to the first person who showed interest (Terry Bowden) or their first interview (Doc Holliday). Either of them could still get the job but I think it's good that others are getting interviewed. Unfortunately the longer the search goes on, the more likely we'll hear other names that will pull their name and some will see that as embarrassing (Jimbo Fisher, Nick Saban).

Personally, I think they should take all the time they need if that means landing a good coach. Of course, in the heat of recruiting time, that comes at a price. The biggest misconception I hear is that the university has to hire someone from the WVU family (Bowden, Trickett, Fisher, Jones, etc.). I think they need to find someone from outside (Locksley, Petersen, Foster) to breathe new life into the program and bring enthusiasm. The coaching seach is no embarrassing.

Is suing Rodriguez embarrassing to the university? It could be. If Rodriguez actually prevails and proves that WVU did not live up to their end of the contract, it could be devastating. WVU committed to having an elite program and if Rodriguez proves otherwise it could alienate the entire Mountaineer fanbase. However, I don't believe WVU will file the lawsuit if they didn't believe they could prove they have provided Rodriguez with everything that was guaranteed in his contract. If WVU wins, the lawsuit is not embarrassing.

There is one thing, however, that is embarrassing to the university and that is the recent comments by Ken Kendrick. His swipes at the Mountaineer Athletic Department undermines the integrity of the entire sports structure at WVU and is more problematic than any of the aforementioned issues. Kendrick's assertions will scare recruits and donors more than any head coach search or lawsuit. If Kendrick can provide evidence of his claims, he could irreparably damage the university for years and years to come. I believe that Kendrick's claims are just sour grapes from a donor who believes his money should yield him more power and I base that on recent comments by Mike Puskar. However, just the shear publicity Kendrick has attracted for his claims are definitely embarrassing to the university.

Anyway, I think WVU should have a coach by the time the National Championship Game is played and, whoever it is, WVU fans should support. I don't think anyone should be embarrassed by WVU trying to collect money that is rightfully owed to them or by taking time to interview potential head coaches. Hopefully they make the right choice and WVU will continue to be successful. I don't see this as the end of Mountaineer sports by any stretch...of course, I didn't think we'd lose to Pitt either. That was embarrassing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And Chaos Ensues

The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto could have ramifications that resonate throughout the world in the months that lie ahead. When all seemed to be calming down and good news was spreading, the suicidal maniac that took Bhutto's life could set off a series of events that threatens stabality from Pakistan to Iran to the United States.

The first of these is obvious: President Pervez Musharraf has major issues to deal with in Pakistan. With elections only a couple weeks away, the attack on Bhutto threatens to undermine any elections in the country. Nawaz Sharif, also a former prime minister and a political rival, has already announced his Muslim League party would boycott the elections and has called upon Musharraf to step down as president.

Unrest in Pakistan bodes poorly for regional stability. One of the key allies in the war against terror, political unrest could give remaining Taliban and Al-Qaida members in Pakistan the ability to organize and begin another major push in Afghanistan. Unrest in Pakistan also threatens the uneasy peace the country has with India. The border disputes between the two nuclear countries makes the United States/USSR "cold war" look downright quaint. A military confrontation between these two countries could be disasterous for the entire region.

The United States may be tested in Afghanistan if Taliban and Al-Qaida forces regain strength in Pakistan. Also, if the Pakistani government comes under heavy fire from Islamic extremists, the United States could come under heavy pressure to act in Pakistani borders to prevent a complete meltdown and collapse into an Islamic state.

Of course, that's looking at worst case scenarios. I'm cautiously hopeful that maybe some positive changes could come from the Bhutto tragedy. Perhaps the people of Pakistan will finally be fed up with the Islamic extremists they have been harboring in the country and will stand up and finally expel the opponents of freedom who have long ruled so many regions. Perhaps President Musharraf will use this as an opportunity to actually hold free and open elections in that country. Perhaps this will be the tragedy that ignites a people to standup against tyranny in all forms.

But that's probably just wishful thinking. Hopefully this doesn't mark the start of a very dangerous chapter in Pakistani history. I know that I, for one, will be watching the unfolding of events in Pakistan in 2008 with great interest because those events could dictate world policy for a generation.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

For Those Who Wonder - Jimbo Fisher

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, everyone agreed that Doc Holliday would be brining his gun-slinging ways to Morgantown and take over where Rich Rodriguez once stood. Boy, what a difference a few days make. Beginning yesterday, all eyes turned to Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. And today, many are claiming that Jimbo will be the next coach at WVU. Personally, I give him as much chance of being the coach as Terry Bowden, Doc Holliday or Mike Locksley. All have been mentioned...but Jimbo is today's flavor of the week...or day. So, without further adieu, some information about another West Virginia native, Jimbo Fisher.

Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Fisher attended Liberty High School before going to Salem College in Salem, West Virginia where he played quarterback under head coach Terry Bowden from 1985-1986. When Bowden left for Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, Fisher transferred with him to play his final season for the Bulldogs where he was named Division III National Player of the Year.

In 1988, he played one season in the Arena Football League. He then rejoined Bowden at Samford as a graduate assistant coach working with quarterbacks from 1988-1990 and was subsequently hired as the fulltime offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After two seasons, Fisher moved with Bowden to Auburn University where he coached quarterbacks alongside offensive coordinator Tommy Bowden. While at Auburn, Fisher coached several successful quarterbacks including Patrick Nix, the current offensive coordinator for Miami.

Fisher continued at Auburn until the hiring of current Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville in the wake of Bowden's 1998 mid-season resignation. He then coached quarterbacks for one season at Cincinnati before joining Nick Saban's new staff at LSU in 2000. When Saban left for the NFL's Miami Dolphins Fisher remained at LSU to continue his role with Les Miles. He has guided several well-known quarterbacks in his tenure with the LSU Tigers including Josh Booty, Rohan Davey, Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell.

After the 2006 season, Fisher interviewed for the head coaching position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham but the Board of Trustees, which also governs the University of Alabama, vetoed the contract offer for Fisher causing some controversy. He subsequently signed a three year contract to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Florida State University. He will receive a base salary of $215,000 with incentives increasing the total package into the low $400,000 range. In a press release on December 10, 2007 Jimbo Fisher was named the eventual successor for the legendary coach Bobby Bowden, although Bowden has not yet announced a retirement date. This new contract will pay Fisher about $600,000 per year with a $2.5 million buy out clause.

So, there you have it. You see Jimbo kinda fits into the Bowden / Rodriguez triangle for West Virginia by playing and coaching with Terry. Fisher brings a pretty impressive resume with him should he choose to come to WVU. The recent suspension of 36 Florida State players may play a part in Jimbo's decision considering his is supposed to be the next Florida State coach. After witnessing the Seminoles conduct issues, he may be giving that gig a second thought. Obviously, the $2.5 million dollar buyout is the biggest obstacle to bringing Fisher to WVU but if the University wants to make a splash with their new hire, stealing Florida State's Offensive Coordinator and next Head Coach is probably about as big as it gets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

For Those Who Wonder - Doc Holliday

John "Doc" Holliday was born August 14, 1851 and was an American dentist, gambler and gunfighter of the Old West. In September 1873, he went to Texas where he opened a dental office. He soon began gambling and realized this was a more profitable source of income. In Dallas, he was indicted, along with 12 others, for illegal gambling. He was arrested in Dallas in January 1875 after trading gunfire with a saloon-keeper, but no one was injured and he was found not guilty. He moved his offices to Denison, Texas, and after being found guilty of, and fined for, "gaming" in Dallas, he decided to leave the state.

By 1877, Holliday was in Fort Griffin, Texas, where Wyatt Earp remembered first meeting him. The two began to form an unlikely friendship; Earp more even-tempered and controlled, Holliday more hot-headed and impulsive. This friendship was cemented in 1878 in Dodge City, Kansas, where both Earp and Holliday had traveled to make money gambling with the cowboys who drove cattle from Texas. On the side, Holliday was still practicing dentistry from his rooms in Dodge City, as indicated in an 1878 Dodge newspaper advertisement (he promised money back for less than complete customer satisfaction), but this is the last known time he attempted practice.

After many years of gambling and riding the range with Wyatt Earp, Holliday began to settle down. By the 1970s, the Old West had died and Holliday went to college and graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education in 1979, then graduated with a Master's Degree in 1981 in Safety Management. Holliday was also a three-year letterwinner while playing linebacker at West Virginia.

In 1979, Holliday became a graduate assistant for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team. Then in 1981, he became a part-time assistant until 1982. Holliday became wide receivers coach in 1983 and remained at that position until 1989.

In 1990, Holliday became the inside linebackers coach. He remained coaching the linebackers until 1992. In 1993, he returned to coaching the receivers. In 1995, Holliday was promoted to assistant head coach, while still maintaining receivers.

During his tenure at West Virginia under head coach Don Nehlen, Holliday achieved a prestiguous record. He coached the top three career and single-season reception leaders in school history and eight of the top ten players in both categories. He also coached the leading receivers in the Big East in 1996, 1997, and 1998 while also coaching three of the top six receivers in Big East history. He coached third-team All-American receiver Reggie Rembert, three-time all-Big East receiver Rahsaan Vanterpool, all-Big East receiver David Saunders, all-Big East receiver Shawn Foreman, and all-Big East receiver Khori Ivy during his tenure and also was responsible for seven eventual NFL draftees.

Holliday was also the main recruiting coach in the Florida-area for West Virginia. Holliday was responsible for recruiting majors stars, such as linebacker Steve Grant, and became one of the best recruiters in the nation. He also helped the Mountaineers to 12 bowl games in his twenty years at West Virginia.

In 2000, Holliday left West Virginia for North Carolina State. There he became the assosciate head coach and wide receivers coach. He remained at NC State until 2004.

During his time in North Carolina, Holliday coached three of the top eight receivers in school history: Koren Robinson, Bryan Peterson and Jerricho Cotchery. In 2001, the squad set school records for completion percentage and fewest turnovers, while the 2002 team led the ACC in scoring. That squad also finished with school records of total yards, passing yards, most points scored, and most first downs in a season. The 2003 squad then set records in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns, and pass completion percentage.

In 2005, Holliday traveled to the University of Florida and became the Gators' assosciate head coach, safeties coach, and recruiting coordinator. In 2005, Holliday was named one of's Top 25 Recruiters, while also tutoring a secondary that only allowed 52.3% of passing to be completed which was 16th best in the nation.

He guided safety Reggie Nelson to a consensus All-American honor and to become a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2006. Also in that season, the Gators' pass defense efficiency was fourth-ranked nationally and second in the SEC while only surrending a nationally tenth-ranked 10 touchdowns all season and sixth in the nation in scoring defense.

Obviously Holliday's journey from gun-slinging gambler to one of the top recruiters in the nation is an inspiration in the Old West. But the fact remains that Holliday has never been a head coach in college football and many wonder if his old habits are behind him. If West Virginia goes in this direction, will we get the Holliday that can recruit like none other or will we get a dentist that has gone bad?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Legacy of Rich Rodriguez

Until December 1, the legacy of Rich Rodriguez would be one of an innovater who led West Virginia to the biggest victory in school history in the 2005 Sugar Bowl and to the verge of a national championship. He would be known as the man who picked up where Don Nehlen left off and carried the Mountaineers to the promised land. By the time December 2nd rolled around, all that had changed and the legacy of Rich Rodriguez was forever altered.

A 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh forever changed the face of Mountaineer football and has tarnished the reputations of two of the greatest coaches the school had ever seen. A mere 2-weeks following that astonishing defeat, Rodriguez was sitting with Michigan representatives, hashing out a plan to vacate Morgantown. Perhaps Rodriguez realized he would never live down the loss to Pitt and the loss of a national title shot. Perhaps he realized he choked when all the cards were on the table and the opportunity would never present itself again at WVU. We will never know for sure, that is certain.

Just as Mountaineer fans were accepting the loss to Pittsburgh and beginning to look forward to a BCS bowl and another season, Rodriguez dropped the bomb that he would not return as coach of West Virginia University but would instead travel to the alleged greener pastures of Michigan. With that act of treason, Rodriguez cemented his legacy as a 13-9 loser to Pittsburgh with everything at stake. The Sugar Bowl victory and the Big East Championships will become distance memories but the sting of the defeat that cost West Virginia a shot at a national championship and the betrayal that followed will linger much longer. It's the bad memories that tend to remain more vivid over time, and Rodriguez provided a one-two punch to leave Mountaineer fans with.

When called upon to give comfort to the grieving fans of West Virginia football, the elder of West Virginia football and gold standard to which Rodriguez was compared chose to dump salt into the open wounds that were opened by the departure. Instead of assuring Mountaineer fans that all would be well in Morgantown, Don Nehlen took the opportunity to heap praise upon the tradition and majesty of the Wolverines. Instead of just remaining silent, the former coach portrayed Michigan as a Major League club, while West Virginia remains in the Minor Leagues, hoping to be called up someday.

When all is done, the damage done to the legacies of two Mountaineer coaches will be irreversible. At some point, Rodriguez and Nehlen will look at Mountaineer fans and only see contempt. If they wonder why, it's because Mountaineer fans look at Nehlen and Rodriguez and only see Maize and Blue. And those are two colors we never need to see again.

Alright Joe...

Let's see...who would be the first person you would talk to about what happened at WVU? Ed Pastilong? Mike Garrison? The million football analysts as ESPN, CBS, Fox and the likes? Nah, the first person to talk to is obviously Governor Joe Manchin.

Manchin took time for him "busy" schedule running the state to blast college football and Rich Rodriguez saying Rodriguez is a "victim of a college coaching system driven by high-priced agents that has turned those dreams into just another back-room business deal." Manchin went on to commend Ed Pastilong and Mike Garrison for their work and that he trusts them "and the WVU Board of Governors completely with the coaching search that now lies ahead.

As far as I'm concerned, Manchin should keep his opinions to himself. He's the governor of a state, not the overseer of college football for West Virginia. He forced himself in the West Virginia/Marshall conversations and forced West Virginia to play in a "Friends of Coal" Bowl. He's interjected himself in several situations that have nothing to do with the State of West Virginia just to keep himself in the public eye. If he's so concerned about the state of college football and the West Virginia coaching search, maybe he should appoint himself to the position since it appears RCB isn't going anywhere soon...

WVU Head Coaching Candidates

It's time to play "Who Wants to Coach West Virginia University!" Will the candidates please line need to push, everyone will be given a chance to be rejected. Let's get started (Hireability Scale: 1-no chance / 10-give him the job).
  1. Terry Bowden. The most thrown about name in the short 24-hours since Coach Rod betrayed the West Virginia faithful has to be Bowden. A West Virginia alumnus, Bowden has said he wants to get back in coaching and WVU is his "dream job". Bowden is a big name but he hasn't coached in 10-years and college football has changed a lot in a decade. Bowden left in the middle of the season at Auburn due to brewing scandals but his record speaks for itself for most. Hireability: 8

  2. Butch Jones. Jones was receivers coach at WVU before heading to Central Michigan, where he has led the Chippewas to their 2nd consecutive Motor City Bowl. Would have a pretty good understanding of the current offense and might actually want to throw the ball around some. Little head coaching experience though and there's some thought that Rodriguez may want him back as an assistant at UM. Hireability: 6

  3. Jimbo Fisher. A West Virginia native, Fisher's name was brought up a lot last year when WVU thought they might need a coach. Has a proven track record at LSU as an offensive juggernaut but struggled this year at Florida State. Might have been able to snag Fisher last year but now that he has been assured to follow Bobby Bowden at FSU, it's doubtful he would come back up north. Hireability: 5

  4. Jerry Moore. Moore already coaches the Mountaineers...of Appalachian State. He has led the 'eers to 3 consecutive I-AA championships and has a spread offense that beat Michigan this year. A proven coach that probably deserves a shot at the big time. But the guy is 68-years old and it's doubtful we want a coach for 5 years before he retires. Hireability: 3

  5. John "Doc" Holliday. Doc's name is another that comes up every time a replacement coach is talked about. Doc Holliday is one of the most prolific recruiters West Virginia has ever seen and has had great success as an assistant head coach and receivers coach at NC State and Florida. However Holliday has no head coaching experience and, from what I have heard, burnt a few bridges when he left WVU. A throwback to the Nehlen era, I'm not sure how Holliday would adjust to the current situation. Hireability: 6

  6. Todd Graham. Former co-defensive coordinator under Rodriguez, Graham is currently at Tulsa where he led the Golden Hurricane's to a 9-4 record and a conference championship. Would be a great asset in strengthening West Virginia's defense. Hireability: 7

There's a lot more names...but I'm not sure what they're doing. Calvin McGee (current assistant head coach/offensive coordinatory - Hireability: 6) may follow Rodriguez to Michigan. Hopefully Jeff Casteel (Hireability: 2) does the same. Other names being thrown around include, but are not limited to: Steve Dunlap (Hireability: 3), Skip Holtz (Hireability: 7); Larry Coker (Hireability: 5); Kirk Ferentz (Hireability: 3); Bud Foster (Hireability: 7); Lee Corso (Hireability: -1); Lou Holtz (Hireability: -2); Nick Saban (Hireability: 4); Bobby Petrino (Hireability: 7); and, Don Nehlen and/or Jeff Hostetler (Hireability: Just Kill Me Now).

In other news: Terrell Pryor is likely going to Michigan. Josh Jenkins is probably going somewhere else. The Rodriguez/Jan. 3rd resignation story is gaining momentum; apparently there is some truth to it and he is trying to weasel out of the buyout. There's still a lot of questions about why he's leaving and apparently the press conference didn't really address those. I'm sure it will all come out eventually...Rodriguez will blame the university and the university will say Rodriguez was selfish. It's a good thing there isn't a game to prepare for or anything like that. What's that? Oh yeah...I forgot...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

WANTED: New WVU Football Coach

Obviously West Virginia now needs a new football coach. So, I will discuss those candidates tomorrow or Tuesday. But first, a little of the speculation that is going on in Mountaineer land (you know, rumors, make believe and maybe a little level of truth) with a believability rating (1-low / 10-high).
  1. Rodriguez threw the Pitt game knowing he would be offered the Michigan gig. If his team was playing January 7th for a national championship, he couldn't take the Wolverines job. Believability: 1 - There's no way he throws a shot at a national title.
  2. He dated his letter of resignation for January 3, 2008, after the Fiesta Bowl. So either he coaches in the Fiesta Bowl as a hired employee or WVU has to fire him or forfeit the $4 million buyout. Believablity: 4 - I really don't know what the deal is with the contract. If this is true...well, I will lose a whole lot more respect for RR than I already have. Of course, most Mountaineer fans have no respect it doesn't matter.
  3. West Virginia will lose several players, including Noel Devine, Steve Slaton and 5-star recruit Josh Jenkins. Believability: 9 - Devine has been homesick and Rod has been the only thing keeping him at WVU. Expect him to transfer to a Florida school. Slaton is NFL bound (good or not) and Jenkins is going to look elsewhere. We'll lose some other recruits and players as well...but that's what happens when there is a regime change.
  4. Don Nehlen encouraged Rich Rodriguez to look at the Michigan job. Believability: 2 - Sure, Nehlen was at Michigan before coming to WVU but I can't see him trying to chase off the current coach. Of course, Nehlen could be upset about the lack of respect for the 80s and 90s teams but do you really think Rodriguez looked for the Nehlen seal of approval? Highly doubtful.

There's more...there's rumors of a possible near physical altercation when he informed the players...which I doubt seriously. There's all kinds of coaching rumors out there...from the obvious (Terry Bowden, Jimbo Fisher, Steve Dunlap) to the interesting (Larry Coker, Skip Holtz, Butch Jones) to the completely out of touch (Lloyd Carr, Nick Saban, Bill Cowher) to the I seriously hope not (Doc Holliday, Lee Corso, Rick Trickett). I'll break down some of those guys when I get some more time. In the meanwhile, feel free to get out to some of those message boards out there and dump some gasoline on all the rumors...

Goodbye, Rich Rodriguez

And a 2-day saga ends with Rich Rodriguez packing his bags and heading to Ann Arbor to join John Beilein. On one hand, I'm glad that this dram unfolded quickly and ended abrumptly with Rodriguez's resignation. On the other hand, I'm disappointed with the outcome. To walk out on your team as they prepare to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl is nothing if not cowardly. Of course, Rodriguez will say that he had to make the decision now due to recruiting considerations and the distraction the constant rumors would cause his Mountaineer squad.

The reasons for Rodriguez's departure aren't clear yet. Rodriguez apologists will point the finger at Ed Pastilong. I've already heard that all Rodriguez wanted was some additional money for his assistant coaches and some improved facilities. Seems reasonable, right? Somehow I doubt that is all Rodriguez was looking for. Some have said the threats Pat McAfee received following the embarrassing loss to Pitt made Rich look at other possibilities. Do we really believe no Michigan player has ever been threatened?

The fact is that Rich Rodriguez couldn't keep his eyes on Morgantown and West Virginia University. He readily admitted that he looked at every coaching opportunity that was offered, and there's nothing wrong with that really. But when you tell Mountaineer fans that you want to be at WVU for the rest of your career and tell members of the media that they are stuck with you whether they want you or not, you tend to believe that he meant he was staying at WVU for the long haul. Perhaps Rodriguez meant to say he was staying at WVU for his entire Mountaineer coaching career. Who knows?

Regardless, Rich Rodriguez broke a contract that he has signed with West Virginia University and walks out on players, recruits and a large and loyal fanbase that supported him through good and bad times. A West Virginia native and WVU alumnus turns his back on his school and community to chase the "big-time" that he apparently never felt he could achieve with the Mountaineers. But, be warned Wolverines fans, should any other "national" program come calling, even the hated Buckeyes, watch him closely because he obviously has no issues in deserting his teams, no matter how loyal they may be to him.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here We Go Again

Seems a bit like deja vu really...West Virginia is preparing for a bowl game, recruits are committing to colleges and Rich Rodriguez is being associated with another job. Sporting News reported and others quickly picked up that Rodriguez met with Michigan officials over in Toledo on Friday. Of course Rich Rodriguez won't comment on these rumors because he doesn't comment on these situations. Michigan officials will neither confirm nor deny.

Last year, when the Alabama came calling, I was on Rod watch 24-hours a day trying to find out what was going to happen. Didn't want to lose this coach. I wanted Pastilong to do whatever he had to do to keep Rich Rodriguez as the coach of West Virginia University. And Pastilong stepped up to the plate and offered Rodriguez more money and, I'm sure, several other concessions on facilities, etc., to keep Rod as coach.

This year, I don't know if I care. We lost John Beilein to Michigan only a few short months ago and that was a huge loss but we've obviously moved on. I don't think we can find the Bobby Huggins of football to hire but I'm not going to freak out about it this year. Maybe Rodriguez just wants attention. Maybe he really wants out of West Virginia. Maybe he thinks he deserves more money.

If it's money, I think WVU is paying him amply for the job he's doing. Granted, he's not making as much as the Alabama coach. He's making less per win than a lot of coaches in D-I. But he's also at West Virginia. As much as we want to believe otherwise, we're not on the same field as an Oklahoma or Ohio State or Michigan. We might be able to compete with a USC or Texas or Auburn on the playing field, but we can't compete with them at the bank. We don't have a stadium like Penn State's and we don't have the deep pockets of Alabama. That's the facts. If Rodriguez is attempting to use this latest development (which I've heard is not a formal offer yet) as ammo for more money, he probably needs to move on.

West Virginia fans have already seen ticket prices sky rocket over the past few years. What used to be a family outing has turned into an event that many can no longer afford. The argument is that is what you pay for a "national" program but eventually you will price seats out of the range of fans who are paying for all these improvements and salaries. Once again, we're talking about West Virginia and, if you haven't noticed, the economy here isn't exactly a juggernaut. I honestly don't believe Pastilong will offer Rodriguez more money this year...regardless of him staying or going. And I think that's the right move.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Rodriguez continues as WVU coach for many years to come (even if he loses to Pitt). I don't believe he's leaving, even if he is given a formal offer by Michigan. But, if he does go to Big Blue, send our best to John Beilein and tell him he would have been better staying here too...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baseball on Steroids

Well, the Mitchell report comes out within the next half hour or so...and let me be the first to say: "Who cares?" Personally, I don't at this point. Knowing who did or who didn't take steroids in the past is not going to fix baseball's problems. The damage has been can't go back and fix the records that have been broken. You can't take a World Series away from a team that was guilty. You can't quantify in anyway which teams and players gained an advantage and which teams or players were at a disadvantage.

The names that are going to come out, whoever they may be, were or are guilty of using a performance-enhancing substance. Can we determine whether they were habitual user gaining an unfair advantage on the field or whether they were just a user who used on occassion to recover from an injury? Does it matter? And whom does it matter to?

Personally, I thought George Mitchell would take his investigation a different way. I no longer care about those who used...naming users just satisfies a bloodlust that some have. I wanted George Mitchell to direct us to the enablers who allowed baseball to fall into such dispair. When did the Commissioner first understand there was an issue? Did the GM's, owners, coaches, etc. know what was happening in the locker room?

Secondly, I had hoped Mitchell would expose additional ways to clean up the game that the Commissioner's Office had overlooked? How can we reasonably test for HGH? How can we move on with a clean and fair game?

I obviously haven't seen the report but it appears Mitchell was more concerned about exposing the actual users than evaluating the system and helping actually fix the problem. Of course, what should we expect from a man who has ties deep in the baseball hierarchy and sits on the Red Sox Board of Directors? With all the conflicts Mitchell has, he should have recused himself from the investigation. Of course a truly independent investigation may turn up things baseball wouldn't approve of...and who would want that?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Petrino Bolts NFL for College

Bobby Petrino left Louisville to coach the Atlanta Falcons. Shortly after taking the job, Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely (and since prosecuted) for his role in a dog fighting ring and backup quarterback Matt Schaub was traded, leaving Petrino a non-existent offense. In addition to those issues, some players on the Falcons roster let it be known they were not exactly fond of Petrino.

Fast forward to Monday -- Michael Vick is sentenced to 23 months of jail and the Falcons play on Monday Night Football. Several Falcons players wear shirts or patches showing their continued support for Michael Vick, against league rules. And, of course, the Falcons lose.

And Tuesday, Petrino bolts for Arkansas. I'm in the minority when I say good for Petrino. I would have gotten out of there as fast as I could too. Obviously, this is a team that is going no where soon and the fact so many on that team still stand behind the convicted Michael Vick prove that this team is never going to be successful with the personnel they have in place. Most of the players have made it known they aren't going to buy into Petrino's system and have shown somewhat open hostility towards him. Their refusal to put Vick in the past shows that this team is stuck in neutral, refusing to move on with a new system and longing for the days when Michael Vick was their mediocre quarterback who occassionaly made spectacular plays.

Petrino probably should have never left Louisville. Maybe he really thought he would be successful in the NFL -- but I think he's better suited for the college game. He's an offensive inovator and I think he will be successful with the Razorbacks. The people who are busy criticizing this decision to leave Atlanta are ignoring the obvious -- he had nothing to stay for.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Campaigns -- *yawn*

The New York Times today reports G.O.P. Voters Are Uninspired by Candidates. Really? Is that a surprise? Didn't I say that a couple months ago? Why do you think people were actually excited for Fred Thompson to join the race? They wanted someone they thought would bring energy to the party. But, instead of Thompson turning into Ronald Regan, he channeled the personality of the corpse formally known as Art Shell.

Mike Huckabee is surging because there's no better alternative. Republican voters are looking for someone with core values and a down-to-earth personality who can speak to them. Guiliani has major values flaws and Romney often comes across with a superior to thee personality. Huckabee seems like a real person with real values, even if wrong at times. I'm not going to vote Huckabee though...I think he has some serious issues in his past to deal with and I'm not sure he's really someone who can be elected. But he's someone different, which is why he's in the race.

On the other side of the forum, does Hilary Clinton inspire anyone? The NYT survey shows that most people are supporting Hilary out of love for her husband. Hilary has done nothing to show she deserves to be president. She talks about experience but her only real experience is at the feet of Bill. She wants to claim credit for being co-president during Willy's 8-years in office, but only wants credit for the good things and quickly shields herself during bad things. When asked about the pardons Bill made as governor or president, she is quick to point out that she wasn't the president and couldn't make those decisions. But when asked about economic prosperity during those times, she is quick to point out that she helped make decisions. You can't have it both ways. I really hope the American public is smart enough not to elect this banshee...

As for Obama, what has he done? The media wants to build him up as a threat to the inevitable Hilary nomination but, really, he is stagnant in the polls and, should he ever surpass Hilary, the Clinton war machine would gear up and take down the relative newbie. Even the biggest O of all can't save Obama from Hilary's "left wing attack machine". Obama's message doesn't resonate with voters in any way. I pay some attention to what is going on and I have no idea what Barrack is proposing other than his constant reminder that Hilary voted for the war. (Hey, Barrack, with things taking a positive turn in Iraq, that's not going to be a winning message...just wanted to let you know.)

Anyway, should be interesting from this point forward. The first votes will be soon and I would guess by March we should known the nominees. I think it's Rudy v. Hilary...and you want to talk about mud. Whew, boy...everyone in America better stock up on shovels 'cause it's gonna be gettin' deep around here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back to Work

Now that I'm back to work following my Boston trip and have had ample time to put the Mountaineers loss behind me, I will get back to updating this thing on a somewhat normal basis again for my 3 loyal readers. I'll start off today talking a little about television...

If you didn't realize it, the Hollywood writers are still on strike. Personally, I couldn't care less. But, that's the facts...reruns of Leno and Letterman and whatever other shows need writers. It doesn't really affect me because, as I have confessed before, I mostly watch sports, old sitcoms or stupid reality shows. And, today, I am going to encourage you to watch the dumbest reality shows on television. First, America's Most Smartest Model which is on VH1.

AMSM was really funny in the first episodes, playing on the stereotype of the dumb model. And some of these models were really, really dumb. And with Ben Stein in charge, you know it's going to be entertaining. It's down to the final two now, a Russian and a moronic American -- but I don't see this turning into Rocky IV. The show is at it's best when Stein is making everyone look it's worst when they're, you know, modeling. It's probably worth can probably see every episode in order on a VH1 seems everytime I flip around, I see it or...

I Love New York 2. Between this show and the model show, this one definitely wins. If you missed Flavor of Love or the original I Love New York, well, then you probably don't know New York. Obviously, she's looking for a stable man to settle down with and dominate. And what better place to find love than on a VH1 reality show. 20 or so eligible bachelors leave their normal lives and move into a big house all competing for the love of New York. And loving New York cannot be easy.

Of course, as with all shows like this, sparks fly. The guys fight with each other. There's even a physical confrontation or two. And New York and her mother do everything possible to keep the tensions high...that's good for TV. In the last episode, which may be my favorite, New York invites the 4 remaining contestants' parents to meet her and her mother. And things ignited...

A fight between New York's mother and a contestant named "The Entertainer's" mother broke out over dinner. Some of the highlights include: “You look like you wearin’ a beaver’s ass on your head,” “My husband’s ass looks better that you!” and “I don’t think I’m getting an apology from her or that transvestite!” With dialog like this, who needs the writer's strike to end?

Just like Model, I'm sure you can find a marathon of I Love New York on VH1 this weekend or over the course of the week. This is all they show these days...reality shows and Best of shows. And, hey, they're generally entertaining. I Love New York 2 is down to 3 contestants and will probably finish up next week along with the other show. Catch'll be

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I just flew back from Boston...and boy, are my arms tired. [ba dum cha] -- Thank you, thank you...I'll be here all week.

Anyway, I hate to travel. The trip to the airport, from the airport...the ticketing, the security line...waiting for the plane and hoping it's not delayed or cancelled. It's non-stop stress. Arriving at your destination, waiting for luggage, trying to find the rental car...ah, it's just too much. Especially when you are by yourself and can't rely on anyone else to help you figure this stuff out.

But I made it to and from Boston without incident. It was my first time there and I saw absolutely nothing. I arrived Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and left Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. following the completion of the course I was there for. Since it is dark at 4:30, I could see anything. On Monday night, I venture from Burlington (where I was staying), back into Boston to try to, ya know, see some sights. Well, it was pitch dark and I could find anything. I spent 20-minutes trying to find Fenway but never did. Having spent over $10.00 in tolls, I finally gave up and headed back to Burlington. On Tuesday, I decided not to even try and just went to the mall in Burlington for dinner.

It had snowed up there about the same as here. It was cold. Everyone wanted to talk about the Patriots. And a few wanted to talk about Boston College's loss to Virginia Tech. Didn't matter to me...I just didn't want to talk about West Virginia's loss. The class was, ummmm, interesting. The guy didn't really teach anything...he just had us work through exercises in a book. Some people in the class couldn't get their exercises done but he just moved on anyway. It was pretty odd.

Other than that, not much to report. I'm just glad I'm back in town and have my luggage. I was surprised by the amount of snow is on the ground here. Didn't really expect that. The roads from Pittsburgh to the West Virginia state line were pretty clear. The roads in West Virginia were icy and snowy...what a shock!

Lastly, how about that Mountaineer basketball team blowing out Auburn? I think they could win 20 games this season and go back to the NCAA tournament if the defense continues to play like that. Should be an interesting season.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Sometimes it just goes that way. Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes. Just when you think you've conquered all your obstacles, another gets in your way. If you don't believe me, just ask the WVU football team.

It was all there for them. Number 1 in the BCS following a Missouri loss. A spot in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. And a lifetime of stories from fans who will forever remember your name for delivering them to the promised land. And then Pittsburgh steps in your way and completely alters your destiny.

Perhaps this is what one gets when they "count their eggs..." WVU fans were prepared to travel to New Orleans on January 7th. They were deciding who they would rather face: a Missouri team that would setup an unusual championship game or a Ohio State team that got burned a year ago by Florida and a fast offense. Pittsburgh was just a foregone conclusion. There was no way the Panthers could possibly stop one of the most prolific offenses in college football. And, even more to West Virginia's advantage, it was a Pitt team coached by a perinnial loser named Dave Wannstedt.

But then Pitt did the unexpected. They stopped one of the most prolific offenses in college football...repeatedly. West Virginia turned the ball over and missed field goal opportunities. The savior of so many games, Pat White, went down injured. The dynamic duo of Slaton and Devine couldn't get started. While the WVU defense played admirably, the WVU offense struggled to stay on the field. WVU mustered only 7-points. And those were courtesy of a stupid Pitt personal foul penalty. The Pitt offense ran the clock and kept the dangerous WVU offense off the field. WVU ran only 4 plays in the entire 3rd quarter.

The crowd? Stunned. Six years ago, WVU hosted Temple in Rich Rodriguez's first year as coach. It was a close game and Temple led 17-14 late in the game. But everyone pretty much believed WVU would score late and beat the hapless Owls. But it never happened and West Virginia lost to Temple. That was the last time I had felt a crowd with the same temperment as the crowd at Milan-Puskar this Saturday. Surely the Mountaineers would find a way to score late to win this game against the Panthers. But it never happened. Fourth-and-three, but we only get two yards when it matters most.

Pitt runs out the clock and the crowd slowly and silently exits Puskar Stadium. A smattering of boos and profanity ring out from some. Wandering aimlessly back to their cars, the fans are just wanting to get home. There are many cancelling hotel reservations as I type this. Others are pondering what they are going to do with those non-refundable plane tickets. They had to make arrangements for that title game because Pitt was just a foregone conclusion.

The 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl was definitely a memorable one. It could go down as the most sour loss in Mountaineer history. On the cusp of history only to be held to 9-points by Dave Wannstedt and his losing team. West Virginia will still play in a BCS bowl despite the loss but it won't be for a national title...even if Pitt was just a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Year Ago...

One year ago, Greg Hunter of West Virginia Metronews broke a story that Rich Rodriguez had accepted a deal to go to Alabama. Hunter took some words from Pat Forde and speculated that Rod was ready to accept the offer and had actually been talking about which staff he would take with him to the Tide. Hunter went on to discuss coaching prospects.

The story set off a firestorm throughout Mountaineer country. Rodriguez was silent on the subject. Forde said MetroNews and Greg Hunter are "morons" and have a comprehension problem. And fans around the state took sides, either trashing Rodriguez or hoping that the stories were incorrect. For the next week, WVU endured ESPN, CBS and several media outlets in Alabama reporting the deal was done and Alabama officials were ready to pay Rodriguez's buyout clause. News couldn't come fast enough...and Rodriguez remained silent. And then, it was over. Rod stayed, Alabama was embarrassed and went after another West Virginia native in Nick Saban.

One year has passed and both West Virginia and Rich Rodriguez have reaped the benefits of his decision. West Virginia is one win away from playing for a national championship for only the second time in the history of the program. Rodriguez, whose image was damaged a bit in the debacle up north, has seen his stock rise on a national level and, if they beat Pitt tonight, will be in rare company as a Mountaineer coach (not that he wasn't already). Rodriguez could be stuck in Alabama where he would already be a pariah for the season Saban led them to this year...instead, he's a legend in Morgantown.

West Virginia fans were also fortunate throughout the ordeal. Number one, it did show them that coaches do leave successful programs (such as Les Miles leaving LSU for Michigan). Number two, it prepared them for John Beilein's leap just a few months later and set West Virginia up to go after a bigger fish in Bobby Huggins.

It was quite an ordeal one year ago...thankfully it looks like we won't go through the same this year. But, if we do, at least we're a little more prepared. All those years of Nehlen and Catlett had given us false security. Coaches's life. Rodriguez is most likely here for a few more years...and we're pretty safe with Huggins for now. And if Rod decides to move on -- well, if there's a BCS Championship Trophy on the shelf, I think we'll get over it.