Jimbo: And, I'm Jimbo.
Duke: Our editors always open our article with an opening comment. Last week we were feeling pretty bullish about a Mountaineer victory and he highlighted, "the boys pop the cork on the Louisville game." There was a cork being pulled on the WVU-UL game, but it reminds me more of the champagne corks that are pulled by the Miami Dolphins after the last undefeated NFL team loses. It was toss tough in a couple respects -- namely what could have been (i.e. playing for the national championship), and also for the fact that WVU was performing offensively at such a high level and could have won except for the turnovers. I know - turnovers are part of the game!
Jimbo: Duke, that is pretty well said - not that we would have won, but we could have won. Tiger Woods always states that he wants to put himself in position on day four where he can win. The turnovers just created a situation where West Virginia didn't put itself in a position to win. Once Louisville achieved a sizable lead their fans were into the game and they were able to relax and then execute at a very high level. If the fourth quarter would have rolled around and the score was fairly even, Louisville could have tightened up a little and then anything could have happened.
Duke: This has been the only game were Jimbo and I received a significant number of calls after the game. If we win we may get a call or two, but after this game our wives call and many of our friends call. It is almost like they are making sure that we aren't on the edge of a bridge. We also heard a few comments from Louisville fans like "nice game" (I am taking the high road here), but there was one particular comment that struck me perhaps because of the sincerity behind the comment.
While we were getting our coffee for the drive home, a young man working at the hotel said in a very strong yet quiet tone, "You have nothing to be ashamed about. It was incredible what those two young men were able to do last night." He was speaking, of course, of Steve Slaton and Pat White. My former boss (a huge Penn State fan who gives West Virginia little credit) called and said, "I thought I was watching Major Harris and Tony Dorsett in the same backfield, and your #35 is a big time player." Jimbo, I am not trying to elevate Steve and Pat above the team, but they are incredible players.
Jimbo: Pat White is a warrior. Some folks get twisted about describing a players and a football game with war metaphors, but I'm speaking of his heart and passion. You had the sense that he and really the entire team expected to win that game right up to the last second. Duke, you know I hate lose as much as anybody, but we need to smell the roses. That was an incredible game. We have a very special team and players. I'm convinced that we'll still have a highly successful season.
Duke: A second aspect of the game which has received considerable discussion, both locally and nationally, is that both the Louisville and West Virginia defenses were horrible. I am not confusing West Virginia or Louisville defenses with the Chicago Bears, but I really believe that those two offenses on Thursday night may be the most explosive in college football - bar none. I would have loved the opportunity to play Ohio State for the sole reason of seeing whether our offense could have moved the ball against the Ohio State defense.
Jimbo: I am not saying this because we lost, but one of the most memorable things about this game was the pre-game activities outside the stadium. If you were able to be at the Cardinal Inn adjacent to the stadium, you saw something incredible. The only red in the Inn were the walls and decorations. It was packed, I mean packed, with only Mountaineer fans who were singing the fight song and the 6'6 240 Gold and Blue song. The owners didn't know what hit them! The Mountaineer and the cheerleaders stopped to add to the atmosphere. Mountaineer greats of the past were there including Reggie Rembert, Big John Gray, Darrell Whitmore, and Mike Collins. It was a special time.
Duke: Let's open some mail from our fans. Trivia Boy, grab a question from the Mail Bag.
Trivia Boy: Guys, we have a football question outside the West Virginia realm: The Kansas City Chiefs have a quarterback controversy because a injured player, Trent Green, is able to return, but the backup quarterback, Damon Huard, has performed at a high level. The question is when an injured player returns 100% should he be given back his starting position?
Jimbo: There isn't an "I" in TEAM. That is a head coach's decision based upon what is best for the team. Every circumstance is different.
Duke: There seems to be an unwritten code in football that the injured player "deserves" his position back - automatically. I likewise disagree with this mind set and believe that whatever is best for the team should dictate.
Duke: Now for the Big Finish!
Duke: Jimbo, let's pull for your preseason "Outrageous Prediction" and hope that Rutger's beat Louisville Thursday night. Then we need to take of business and beat Rutgers to have a chance for another Big East Championship!
Jimbo: While this was a bitter pill to swallow, I did realize that we are a big time program. Louisville was billing this as the most important game in their football history, their entire history, and to watch the fans storm the field after the game reinforced that we a good team. Fans don't storm the field for Temple victories.
Duke: Jimbo I'm running with the adage that all press coverage, good or bad, is good for the program. While many nationally including ESPN ripped West Virginia, Louisville, and the Big East, the conference received tremendous exposure. With a few more Sugar Bowl-type wins all college football fans will realize that we are a very good conference.
Jimbo: Well Duke, to get back to a BCS bowl game we need to win our next game. So Old Grads and Young Lads, let's reload the wagons one time, regroup and go 1-0 one more time against the Cincinnati Bearcats.