The Mountaineers clinched their share of the Big East title on Saturday, and were officially, unofficially, invited to the Gator Bowl for a rematch of the September pasting they received at the hands of Maryland.
Now, on to this week's views.
It was sad to see Quincy Wilson have to sit out his final home game as a Mountaineer. Nothing, it seemed, could keep this man off the field, even a high ankle sprain. But after trying it in warm-ups, the coaches decided to hold the Q out of the ballgame. Fans were left to watch highlights of a great running back and a class act, who will undoubtedly tote the rock on Sundays.
Milan Puskar received a standing ovation upon the announcement at the game that the field was to be renamed Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. And I didn't hear one single person suggest we should give the money back, and not change the name. I guess all we need is a little cold weather and snow to keep the whiners and complainers out of our ears for a week or two.
Ah, but that wasn't really the case. As my friends and I, my family and my son sat in our usual seats, around several rows of snow covered benches, we were constantly barraged with calls from one "fan" sitting neaby. His cause? Get Charles Hales inserted in the ballgame.
Now, I will admit that Rasheed Marshall didn't have a good day. But these calls didn't begin in the third quarter, oh no. This gentleman started railing on Rasheed Marshall after his very first incompletion. I won't sit and make excuses for Rasheed. Check, that, I will. Marshall had two balls dropped on him in the first half that would have led to at least 80 more yards and possibly a touchdown. Chris Henry's drop in the first quarter, a catch he makes 99% of the time, cost the Mountaineers 35 yards and a first down in Temple territory with WVU leading 21-0. Part of the problem on the throw was the strong swirling wind which held the ball in the air even longer than Marshall's high arcing lobs normally float.
Then, Josh Bailey dropped a perfectly thrown ball down the seam over an outstretched Temple defender, that would have brought in 45 yards, and considering the defender fell down, and there wasn't another Owl within 20 yards of them, could have garnered 20 more and a score. It should also be pointed out that the wind, described by some people in the stands as fierce, wreaked havoc on everything that moved towards the north (hospital) end of the field.
For firsthand evidence, one simply needs to inquire of both punters what the wind did to their kicks. Look, Rasheed didn't have a stellar day. He threw a terrible interception into triple coverage, and he overthrew two other wide open receivers. But once again, WVU wins. Big East Champions. Give the Hales calls a rest. Hales is a very good QB, and a class guy all the way. But Rasheed has earned a ton more respect than he receives from a lot of so-called fans.
I was quite impressed with the crowd of 35,942, sixth smallest in Puskar Stadium history. Not by the numbers, but by the enthusiasm. I can guarantee you that there were no fair weather fans in attendance on Saturday. The steps were icy and treacherous, the bleachers were covered with snow the Mountaineers were playing lowly Temple, the students were out on break, the roads were bad, and the Mountaineers were playing to finish the season ranked, on a seven game win streak and a share of the Big East crown for the first time since 1993. Kudos to all the fans who showed up to support the seniors, even the guy who is still begging for Hales to take Marshall's place in the lineup the day after WVU locked up the Gator Bowl for the first time since 1996.
It was really nice to see Moe Fofana get an opportunity to catch a pass in his last home game as a Mountaineer. It was even better to see him steamroll a would-be tackler on his 14-yard rumble with his catch. Moe's efforts don't go unnoticed by the coaches or the fans, but for a guy who works like he does, and performs his job as well as he does, to never get a touch is just a crime. I'd love to see Moe get the ball on fourth and goal from inside the one yard line.
Time for my weekly coaching gripe session. Temple loaded the box with nine guys all day long. Temple gave both wide receivers a ten-yard cushion on almost every single play. And Coach Rodriguez still refuses to throw the ball. With the wide receiver talent WVU displays on both sides of the field, it is impossible to fathom why they just don't keep chucking it from one side to the other until these defenses open up and respect the pass. While the Mountaineers have been killing people with the deep ball, these short passes, which used to be a staple of this offense, will force defenses to cover the whole field, not just the line of scrimmage, and the area between the sideline and the hash 40-yards down field. Throw the ball, coach.
Chris Henry is one score away from tying Reggie Rembert's team record of 11 TD catches in a season. Just think if Henry would have been up to speed in the Wisconsin game, and WVU actually threw the ball more than 16 times a game. Chris probably won't make first team All Big East. But I wouldn't trade him for a single wide receiver in the country. Not even Fitzgerald.
Check the picture gallery to come later today or on Tuesday for Temple's big celebrity on the sidelines on Saturday. The man in the leather pants and tuxedo top wasn't Bill Cosby, however. Randall "Tex" Cobb was roaming the sidelines for the Owls. His son is a linebacker for Temple.
It was nice to see Fred Schaus in the elevator on the way to the press box. I don't know Mr. Schaus, but I am always impressed when Mountaineers come back home for a visit.
Now that Milan Puskar has stepped up and thrown in $20 million to the university, I think it is time for some former players in the NFL to give back to the school that helped jump start their careers. It seems like every time I turn on the tube I see a former Mountaineer in the ballgame. And while they certainly don't all pull in top dollar in the NFL, it would be nice if we started hearing these guys endow a scholarship, or pay for a new sound system at the stadium.
They are under no obligation to send money back to the University. But if their agent/financial advisor is worth his salt, he is advising them on charitable gifts for their tax benefit. There isn't a much better gift than helping provide a college education.
It has been asked whether the Sawgrass Marriott would be willing to give up some free golf in return for some free advertising in the Blue & Gold News. While I strongly doubt that Sawgrass has any interest in advertising with our paper, or on our website, one thing should be pointed out. If we were to receive free golf from Marriott, that is, free golf at the TPC course, we wouldn't just be handing it out for other people to enjoy. In my mind, it's real simple. My golfing itch is more important than yours, especially at the TPC. I can arrange for a free round at Cato Park next spring, though.
See you at the Gator Bowl.