Before I give my opinion on whether or not he should have played, I want to say this: If you booed Chris Henry you are a classless jerk who takes college football way too seriously. You want to boo Rich Rodriguez for playing him? Fine. You want to write letters to the editor, call radio call-in shows or make impassioned posts on message boards as to why he shouldn't play and rip the coach for letting him? Fine.
But you don't boo college kids.
This University has its share of questionable characters come through the athletic department over the years. Some of them with off-field criminal records, some of them just arrogant me-first NBA wannabes with no regard for their team. In fact, I can remember just this past season when one of them was let go. When that happened, a considerable portion of WVU's fan base wanted the coach's head for it. No matter that the player is already on his second school since leaving here, searching intently for a spot where he can be the sole option on offense.
What Chris Henry did was childish. His onfield antics cost the football team 15 yards a number of times. What he did on his way out of the game was deplorable, even if some people think it was understandable under the security-free conditions at Rutgers. But to boo a 21-year old because he acted like an immaturely is just classless and without thought.
I suggest that a great number of you would not stand up to the scrutiny of 60,000 people at your workplace every day.
There are a lot of abominable acts each day, but somehow I don't find the decision to play Chris Henry high on that list.
I wouldn't have played Henry this week. But I don't go to practice every day, and I don't know what the football players had to say about the matter. For the key is what Henry's teammates felt about the matter. It is the Mountaineers to whom Henry owed an apology. And according to Coach Rodriguez, he gave one, heartily. According to the coaches he did everything that was asked of him to get back in the good graces of the team and the staff.
While I may not understand how one half of football against Temple could serve as a punishment adequate to get the point across, I have also been involved in enough team sports in my lifetime to understand how things work. I have no reason to question our coaching staff at this point, and I will reserve judgment until I do.
As a former competitive swimmer who spent the better part of 20 years in the sport, including AAU, high school and collegiate levels, I can tell you from personal experience that such punishment is effective.
I used to attend an all sports camp at Virginia Tech in my youth. (Don't blast me for the decision, I didn't pick the camp, pay for it, or drive myself. Even at the age of 11, which was my first year at the camp, the smell of Virginia Tech made me want to barf.)
Be that as it may, one of the punishments for stepping out of line was running the Lane Stadium steps. This was right when Lane was undergoing its first renovation on the side opposite the press box. On a cloudy day, when you get to the top of that side of the stadium, the clouds are below you. As a 15-year old, in the prime shape of my life, swimming five miles a day, running two miles a day and lifting weights for two hours a day, running the stadium steps ranked right up there with having your legs amputated.
Running stadium steps, even for the most talented athlete in the best shape of his life, is a chore he wouldn't wish on anyone. Even when he, or she, does it voluntarily as part of his/her running regimen, it is easily the most painful part of the workout routine. For those of you naysayers who are still young enough, and/or in good enough shape to tackle the task, I suggest that you might go over to the Puskar Center and ask the coaches to let you in the stadium so that you may run the steps.
Do a full lap of the stadium. Every step. When you get done, sit down, look around, and imagine doing it ten times, or twenty. Anyone who thinks running the stadium steps is a light punishment has never done it.
I'm not trying to paint this as the most difficult punishment of all time. But it isn't chopped liver, especially when you add in the loss of 6% of your playing time.
However, Boston College has turned their backs on history, and run for the promised cash in the ACC. Let me be the first to say it: We don't care. We won't miss you.
Losing Miami was a blow that this conference may never recover from. There are no Miamis on the national landscape to replace them with, mainly because Notre Dame is so stubborn about football independence, but also because Miami is one of the top five college football programs in the country. Losing Virginia Tech was a blow because of the long standing relationships we held with them. The national perception that they were one of the top two teams in the Big East every year, while false, also hurt from a PR standpoint. But Virginia Tech is no better than West Virginia, and over the long haul never has been. Tech has had their years, and so has WVU. Replacing them with Louisville, who has turned their program into a national contender, is at worst a wash.
Losing Boston College is but an afterthought. Losing a school whose football team has never managed better than a fourth place finish in the Big East is no major blow. Losing a school whose basketball team has actually won the conference might sound like a major blow, until you recall the names of the last two national champions, neither of whom are named Boston College, and both of whom are still in the Big East.
|Miami||Outright – 6; Shared - 3|
|Syracuse||Outright – 2; Shared - 1|
|Virginia Tech||Outright – 1; Shared - 2|
|WVU||Outright - 1; Shared - 1|
|BC||Outright – 0; Shared - 0|
The most humorous thing in all of this, is that Boston College is currently on pace to finish 5th in the Big East, without Miami and Virginia Tech. Feel free to chuckle at the chowderheads.
Notre Dame could throw a monkey wrench in the program, but the Irish have already lost three games this season. Should they lose to #1 USC and beat Pitt, they'll finish with identical 7-4 records. If they lose to Pitt, I can see no way I'd pick Notre Dame with two Big East losses over Syracuse, or Pitt.
There is absolutely no excuse for this Pitt team to be as weak as it is considering Pitt's recent success. As much as I love to see Pitt lose each and every week, it is abominable that what should be one of the Big East's premier football programs continues to come up short in big ballgames.
Still, on Marshall's first non-drop incompletion of the game, the people sitting next to me, people who weren't sitting where their tickets were located but found some space so they could all get together and talk about their Republican campaign efforts, felt the need to yell out: "Come on Rasheed!" and "You suck".
I continue to struggle with hearing these comments from people as this student-athlete is currently steamrolling through opponent after opponent, improving on his passing stats every single game, and approaching several decades-old passing records at WVU. Some people are in for a rude awakening when this man is gone next season.
It seems that everywhere we go I hear someone asking about Jason Gwaltney and his "soft verbal" to the Mountaineers. I don't get nearly as caught up in recruiting as some other people do, but I hear he is a stud, and he'll be ready to not only play, but perhaps contribute in a big way next season for the Mountaineers. If that's the case, he's going to have to be very good, because he is going to have to be in order to break in front of Pernell Williams next season. Williams sneaked in the game in the second half and quietly bowled over Temple defenders until he scored a touchdown The true freshman continues to come into ballgames late and add a power running style that nobody currently clad in the gold and blue brings to the table. Erick Phillips is the only other back on the squad who runs with the physical style that just kills an opponent when they are getting tired late in the game, and he will apparently not be back this season while continuing to battle tendonitis in his surgically repaired kned.
This was the one major element of Quincy Wilson's game that he learned to use when he lost a step after his knee injury early in his career. And there is nothing more exciting to the offense, and disheartening to the defense, than to have a tailback steamroll a linebacker or defensive back and get four or five more yards. Everyone remembers Wilson's run with the catch at Miami. Some remember his first run at the Virginia Tech game in 2003 when he ran over a Tech linebacker for a mere three-yard gain. And I already will begin to remember things like Williams putting his head down and bowling over a Temple defender and blasting him into the end zone on Saturday.