It's amazing what the end result of winning a few games can do. The Mountaineer women's basketball team starts off the season 2-0, and much of the credit is immediately given to Mike Carey's no-nonsense approach.
On the flip side, the football team goes 3-7, and much grumbling is heard about the tough atmosphere set by the coaching staff.
The only difference is in the records - the approach and philosophy of each head coach is similar. It may be the Mike Carey has been able to communicate his ideas a little better than Rich Rodriguez, but to Rodriguez' credit he has admitted that there are items in that area that he's going to work to improve.
I have a couple of thoughts on this. The first is that there are so many individual variables in the programs that it's impossible to compare them. Sure, both are team sports, but the dynamics are different, as are the personalities involved.
The second is that this, like many other issues that finally come to the mainstream media's attention, is somewhat overblown. There are some issues that the players and coaches need to work out. Neither side is happy with the results of this season. But picturing the program as teetering on the brink of disaster is overstating the situation.
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We've run polls int he past to gauge feelings on corporate naming rights for the WVU Coliseum and Mountaineer Field. Opinions run hot and heavy on that issue, with some of the against crowd noting that it would be embarrassing to have something like "Wal-Mart Stadium at Mountaineer Field" at WVU.
Could that be any worse than Prvidence's new deal? The Friar's basketball venue is now known as the "Dunkin' Donuts Center". Which gives rise to questions such as:
"Are the Friars a doughnout team (no center)?
Will their style of play always be Hot and Fresh?
And of course, the arena is already being referred to as "The Dunk".
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Who to start on Saturday at quarterback? If Coach Rodriguez sticks to his stated philosophy of playing the guy who gives you the best chance to win, then it will be Rasheed Marshall.
I realize that's a tough call. Brad Lewis has received an incredible amount of abuse that has been totally undeserved. It's tough to not start a player who has been a starter for the better part of two seasons, and who has given everything he has to the program. In that sense, Lewis deserves it.
But in the larger picture (at least in my opinion), you have to start the best player at each position in every game. Even though this is senior day, not every senior will start, or even see the field. There are seniors out there like Frank English that aren't going to start, and there are walkons whose names we're barely aware of who won't play. They've worked just as hard, but they won't get time just because it's their final day.
This issue is made tougher because 1) it's the quarterback position, and 2) because it's an incumbent starter who is being displaced. I understand a lot of the emotions involved, as do the participants. In many ways, it's a no-win decision, because the decision will be criticized no matter which way it falls.