Saturday Off

It was a rare Saturday off during football season, so I plopped down on my oversized chair and ottoman in the morning to take in an uninterrupted day of college football.

I always enjoy the Saturday or two that the Mountaineers don't play. Not because I don't like going to the games, of course, but because I rarely get the chance to watch a game other than WVU's from start to finish. I usually catch parts of the early or late games, depending on the time West Virginia is playing, but my writing and photo editing duties for the site and the newspaper don't allow me to give my undivided attention to games.

So, this week was a treat. Of course, I couldn't just sit back and watch like a fan. There were things that occurred that I simply had to comment on, so here we go.

  • I need to buy a beer for whoever thought up picture in a picture on home TVs. I was able to watch two games at a time, and with good clicking skills, was able to keep up with two other games at the same time.

  • The playing surface at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh again needs work. Between the hash marks, the field was a muddy mess, and the footing elsewhere didn't appear to be much better. Before I get a bunch of emails from angry Pitt fans (are there any other kind these days?) pointing out that it was raining, let me say that I'm aware of that. However, this is a professional stadium, with a professional grounds crew, and it's surprising that the surface was so badly chewed up. I know that the northern location also doesn't help much, but it still is in bad shape for an NFL surface. If they can't keep it in any better shaped than what it was for the Panther-Orange contest, perhaps its time to go to some sort of artificial surface.

  • In recent years, two players with the same last name as mine have played in Division 1. Their teams? Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Yuck.

  • The next time someone tries to tell you Big East football is bad or ugly, just point them to a tape of the Alabama-Tennessee or North Carolina-Virginia games. Those two ugh-fests set the college game back several years.

  • I thought Louisville coach Bobby Petrino made a number of coaching errors during WVU's comeback, which added weight to my evaluation that he might not be among my top game coaches. He can obviously recruit and game plan, but I'm not sure about his in-game decisions.

    Petrino made another pair of bad calls in the Cardinals' win over Cincinnati on Saturday. Louisville missed the extra point try following their first touchdown of the game, and that lost marker apparently bugged Petrino so much that he decided to go for two after UL's second score. The Cards were unsuccessful on that try as well. Then, following Louisville's third touchdown, Petrino compounded the error by again trying to make up points. The short pass attempt was likewise unsuccessful, leaving the Cardinals with just 18 points on its three touchdowns.

    I know the temptation is great to try to recover the lost point of a missed point-after try, but coaches should resist it at all costs in the first half. Miss a kick early on? Forget it and get the next one. Don't put yourself in position to lose more points, as the Cardinals did in that situation.

    Late in the game is another matter, of course, especially if your lead is one point or five points. At those times, the extra point doesn't mean much, as your opponent doesn't have time to trade scores that could take advantage of the missed boot.

  • If one more beanhead analyst criticizes a player for giving extra effort that results in a fumble, I'm going to haul him out of the booth for a good smack. A player digging for extra yards will occasionally cough the ball up, but it wasn't the extra effort that caused it. Using these "expert" opinions, offensive players should avoid all contact – that would really cut down on fumbles, right?

  • Does Barry Thompkins doing Pac-10 games seem strange? He's so tied to boxing in my mind, I keep expecting to hear him talking about right crosses instead of right guards.

  • Finally, after watching about ten different contests, I've dome to the conclusion that there aren't many teams I think WVU wouldn't be able to compete with. The mighty SEC? LSU, Georgia and Auburn are better than the Mountaineers, but there's no one else that WVU could not take to the mat. The Big Ten? Bring ‘em on.I'd love for WVU to get a shot at Penn State in a bowl game. The Big XII? Only Texas would likely present too much for West Virginia to handle. Pac-10? USC, of course, appears otherworldly, but outside of L.A. WVU could probably do very well. And the media-darling ACC? We've already seen the Mountaineers are competitive, as they hung with the league-leading Hokies and took Maryland down on the Terps' home turf.

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