It always seems as if a few additional news items pop up when West Virginia is involved in postseason basketball tournaments, and things got a head start today with a nomination, a new hire and a snub from Big East voters.
First up is the announcement of 79 players on the 2011 Football Bowl Subdivision Ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. WVU linebacker Darryl Talley is again on that select list, having qualified by virtue of his first team All-America status in 1982.
"It's an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.79 million people have played college football," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "The Hall's requirement of being a First Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,900 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today's group of 79 names means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game."
Former mountaineer football coach Jim Carlen is one of nine sideline mentors on this year's ballot. Carlen's coaching itinerary included stops at West Virginia (1966-69), Texas Tech (1970-74), and South Carolina (1975-1981). He had a career record of 107-69-6 (.604 winning percentage).
Carlen led teams to eight bowl games and 13 winning seasons in 16 years as head coach and was named the1973 National Coach of the Year. He was a three-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year selectee, and coached Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers at South Carolina.
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Next was the announcement of Big East basketball awards -- one of which deserves some comment. There's not much room for argument with most of the coaches' selections, but the pick of Rick Jackson over John Flowers for defensive player of the year was solely one of reputation and a shallow analysis of the numbers.
Jackson certainly deserves credit for his league-leading numbers in defensive rebounding and blocked shots. But that's only one aspect of defense. Jackson never guarded a soul more than 5-6 feet from the basket, as he was anchored on the back line of Syracuse's 2-3 zone. Flowers, on the other hand, guarded from the rim to the arc, and always drew one of the opposition's top scoring threats.
Most of those players, by the way were guards -- a look at the all-Big East teams confirms that. How many legitimate scoring threats did Jackson have to face in the paint on every possession? Not nearly as many as Flowers did all over the floor.
This should be construed as a putdown of Jackson. He is excellent at rebounding and blocking shots, and is a solid scoring threat as well, although we're talking defensive play here. But if you look at pure defensive ability and versatility, Flowers is better.
That brings up one more question -- how many coaches did the actual voting, as opposed to SIDs, DOBOs and the like? It would be great to know if, say Rick Pitino, who has twice ducked interviews at the Coliseum, is actually the one making Louisville's picks, or if he dodged this duty as he as the media in Morgantown on two recent visits.
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Finally, West Virginia University Director of Strength and Conditioning Mike Joseph announced the hiring of Mark Smith as the assistant director of strength and conditioning. Smith will with football and be assigned an Olympic sport to supervise.
"Mark brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our program at WVU," said Joseph. "He has worked with several top tier NCAA Division I universities and NFL teams. He will help to continue our standards and goals at WVU to be the Big East Champion and the ultimate goal of a National Champion. The strength and conditioning staff is driven to be best in the country and by adding Mark, we can continue that tradition."
Smith is highly-respected in his field, having spent stints at both the collegiate and professional levels. He comes to West Virginia after serving as the director of strength and conditioning for football at Tennessee in 2009.
His collegiate experience includes tenures at South Carolina, 2004-09(director of strength and conditioning), Kansas, 2002-03 (director of strength and conditioning), Florida, 1998-2002 (assistant director of strength and conditioning) and NC State, 1993-98 (assistant director of strength and conditioning). He also served two stints in the NFL working with the New Orleans Saints, 2004 (assistant strength and conditioning) and the Washington Redskins (2003-04).
Smith, a native of Kannapolis, N.C., was a two year starter and three year letterwinner as a linebacker at NC State. He graduated with his bachelor's degree from NC State in 1989. He holds a certification from USA weightlifting.