5:47 p.m. – Spot Yuengling draft signs. $2! I might not make it back. Oh, it's only on football Sundays.
There is a small water pond just inside the front door with what I believe to be Polynesian statues, since it doesn't look Chinese and it's certainly not American – which are the three types of food offered here. The menu is so scattered, one can get nearly any combo. The food to be served later, buffet style, is a mix of hot wings, rice, french fries and rigatoni and a more exotic dish. Some order zucchini, many dipping sauces and fish. Eclectic.
6 p.m. – Wes Lyons, Sr. and the immediate family arrive, sporting two car trunks full of decorative delight. Included are football helmets, team caps and pennants for West Virginia and Ohio State, balloons in according colors, blow-up newspaper articles, pictures and one poster-sized layout of Devon and Wes, then 10 and eight, with former Steelers' linebackers coach and current Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis.
6:05 p.m. – Karen Lyons, Wes' stepmother, puts the blue and gold balloons on one table, and then: "Where do you want the red ones?"
"Pop ‘em. Pop them all," I offer.
6: 10-6:20 – Converse with Lyons, Sr. He has a firm grasp on the recruiting game, having already gone through it with elder son Devon.
"You know, I told Rich Rod this, that it took major guts to call that fake punt. People think he's a genius now. What if he would not have made it? Georgia has the ball at the 40. I like that, though."
I'm later regaled with tales of Lyons, Sr. putting up 305 pounds to start his bench press warm-up in younger days. With his feet up on the bench. He's built like a former lifter, and though that number seems high, I'm not looking for a strength test right now. He trained both his kids, and the Miami staff loved the workout slate. But the ‘Canes lost out.
"The ‘U' is hard on kids," he said. "They go down there and develop attitude. Some of them wanted Devon to step right in and start as a freshman. But when you do that, I mean, there are no guarantees down there. I like players who just toss the ball back to the ref after a score, just play the game."
Scratch Fatigue U. then.
"And with academics, you know, Boston College might have had an overall edge," Lyons Sr. says. "But a degree is a degree, I think." Good thing Wes wants to major in Business and not ethics, or BC would have had no shot at a last-second push.
6:30-6:37 p.m. – Call the Sportsline. They're sniffing for tip offs, and I have none. I've pressed even Nana Lyons for a guess. The matriarch won't budge, but says she's glad its over. Lyons is now in the restaurant, and he is certainly a bit taller than 6-5. Maybe 6-6 or 6-7. His head touches the hanging lights. He says the former, and 217 pounds. He still needs to grow into his body a bit more, though, the product of continual growth over the last 24 months.
6:50 p.m. – They're sitting up a series of chairs in the front surrounding a table on which an OSU helmet faces one of WVU. If Lyons chooses on helmet design, it's not even close. How many chairs do they need? Seven?
6:55 p.m. – I spot former Pitt and current Dallas Cowboy fullback Lousaka Polite. I consider getting a signature for Kevin, a die-hard fan of America's self-labeled "team." It's like those outback commercials. A boomerang blindside: It's a former Pitt player. Also in-house are Darrin Walls (Notre Dame) and linebacker Greg Webster (Pitt), Lyons' fellow Woodland Hills alumni. That's three major players from one western PA high school in one year. And people think West Virginia has prep talent.
Also arriving are major western PA names from Duquesne's great teams of the past – the long past – and the Pittsburgh Sports Report's college and recruiting guru Tony DeFazio. People ask him who he likes for Lyons' selection.
"My money," he says, pointing to my Flying WV baseball cap, "is on this gentlemen's hat."
Spotted: Anthony Leonard, McKeesport fullback and future WVU player. So, what are our chances?
"I feel good," he says. "I'm sure he would not invite me out here for nothing." Later on, after the choice is made, Lyons and Leonard embrace. The show's host, who says several times that West Virginia is his favorite team, calls defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel his friend.
"They've always taken care of western Pennsylvania," he says. "They are good guys. I am pulling for you."
There are also quite a few OSU supporters. One has on a "Fiesta Bowl champions" hat. Another is Devon Lyons, dressed in a red felt-like warm-up suit with the Buckeye logo.
"I just want my brother to go where he feels comfortable," Devon said. "There was no pressure on him to choose OSU." That echoes a sentiment made earlier by Lyons, Sr.: "If he wanted to go to Podunk U., that would be fine. It is easy to get in the car and go to Columbus. But Morgantown's just a small Columbus. One stadium holds 100,000, one holds 60,000. But WVU has an easier road to play for a national title. So it's pretty even."
7 p.m. – OK, here we go. Tell us where you're gonna go. Tell us. It's 7 p.m., you said 7 p.m. If this were a football meeting, you'd be late for not being early. Tell us.
There will be a delay, because some family and friends have not arrived yet. Like Lucy pulling the football. Arrrrgh!
7:20 p.m. – Cell phone. "Matt, it's Kevin. Nothing yet?"
"No, I called you at 6:48 and said there would be a delay."
"No word at all? What is going on?" "I don't know. It looks like they're setting up for some local cable TV access show. It's going to be taped."
"What the…fine. Let me know."
7:25 p.m. – The show begins. There are seven people up there, all right, and none of them with the last name Lyons. What are they doing? I later learn there will be short monologues from local experts on Pens hockey (Lemiuex is likely more sick than what he let on), local boxing (Pittsburgh might have three world champs!), tennis (tennis?), and a few on Steelers football, the main point being the assimilation of universal bodies to get the black and gold into the Super Bowl, a la the Super Bowl being played on 36th day of the year, Jerome Bettis' number is 36. It's in Detroit, Bettis' hometown, yada yada yada. My recent distaste for the ‘Burgh, coupled with OSU and Pitt fans, makes me queasy.
7:35 p.m. – "Kevin, they're gonna take a little break, a commercial break, I think, and then do the announcement."
"A commercial break? I thought you said it was taped."
"I did. How is the chat room?"
"Total meltdown." Oh boy. Kevin has already typed in once that I was calling, then that is was a false alarm, that there would be a delay. There were harsh feelings, ranging from mere peltings of jovial insults to questions as to whether Lyons might just be in the class of 2007 instead of '06. I start to wonder as well, especially because…
7:40 p.m. – This blend of music begins that can't quite be described. It's sort of a mix of slow jazz with R and B beats. Lyons can't possibly announce to this.
7:40.35 – He won't. A slew of attractive females from a local modeling agency emerge from a back room. I had noted there were quite a few above-average women, both in height and looks, in Moy's Cove. This isn't a college hangout. Maybe the owner's just lucky. Did they all change in there?
7:40.55 – The models are dressed in cutoff, tight Steelers shirts and short shorts. With high heels. Some are in letterman's jackets, some in regular dresses. "This is Cindy. She enjoys unicorns and reading books." This is a visceral display, and one I'm sure fits the mold for some raw fantasy. Women. Sports. Heels. Jerseys. Makeup. Confederate Railroad comes to mind for some (That's a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton wig. I know, mom, ain't she cool!? That's the kind I like!). But for others…
7:42 p.m. – "This is Jen. Jen doesn't want you to know some of the things she has done or been in, so we'll ignore that. Jen is wearing a strapless dress…" Wes who? Where is Jen going to school!? Not Pitt. A la Jon Lovtiz as scout Ernie Capadino in A League of Their Own: "I've seen the goods and she's the goods." Pitt women are not itt.
Turns out the models are working for a clothing sponsor of the local cable access show "Champions Live," which is covering the event. It will be reaired in Pittsburgh in early February.
7:44 p.m. – Are all announcements like this? I might go to more. "No," says DeFazio, "this is one of the most drawn out I have seen."
7:45 p.m. – And the recruit goes to… Lyons has the mike now, front and center. After thanks to all, and all a good night, and some remarks from his father, Wes pulls a long white shirt out from a bag. Blue and Gold. Flying WV. WE WIN! It's West Virginia, it's West Virginia…cheers erupt. A smile from Leonard, who, in five minutes when being interviewed on TV, promises that he'll slobberknock Lyons should he decide to come across the middle in practice.
7:45.15 – "Kevin, it's us!" (Inaudible). "West Virginia, West Virginia. It's us." "WOOOooooo!"
7:45.35 – Kevin, on a keyboard to the chat room, now filled with 100 posters. Lyons=West Virginia."
The screen rolls up like a James Dean sleeve. Sixty-plus responses in three seconds. It's all over now, the exposition, the building action, the climax. Get out, they say, when the story is done. The resolution here? These things are fun, and done in a million different ways. Lyons is a catch, and we're fortunate to have him. Congrats, sir, and best wishes on a fruitful career.
"I hope so," Lyons, Sr. says. "I hope he has two redshirts and plays four years. We don't want to have to feed him again until 2011."