The Richardson File

As we are stuck in the dreaded "lull" period of summer, here are a few notes to ponder as we count down the days until football practice begins.

Seriously, is there a worse time of year for a college sports fan than the middle of July? The season seems so close, yet so far away. In simple terms, it's known as "the lull".

For the glass half-empty crowd (not that there are any of those around here), every day is excruciating in its lack of activity with regards to Mountaineer football. Those of you who see your glasses as half-full will note that we are within a month of fall camp beginning.

Wherever your philisophical compass may point, there is a huge landmark coming up which signifies that college football is not that far away. Next Tuesday, EA Sports will release the 2008 version of its NCAA College Football video game. This release is bigger than Harry Potter and The Simpsons Movie put together. Scientific studies have shown that activity levels for video game-owning males from age 12 and up grind to a halt for the three week period immediately following the game's annual release.

What does this have to do with Mountaineer football, you ask? By the time you get tired of playing the game for 20 hours a day it will be time for fall camp. And once fall camp starts, kickoff can't be too far around the corner.

* * *

The WVU athletic department waved goodbye to a true Mountaineer earlier this week when longtime Sports Information Director Shelly Poe decided to take a similar position at Ohio State. Poe, a Morgantown native, is one of the most highly regarded SIDs in the country, and is a 2006 inductee into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame.

On a personal note, Shelly has helped me tremendously over my four-year career with the Blue and Gold News.

While no replacement has been named, there will surely be a long list of applicants to take on the day-to-day publicity duties of Mountaineer football. Whoever gets the job will certainly have some big shoes to fill.

* * *

I received a funny voicemail message on Thursday morning from BGN colleague Cam Huffman, now located in Aiken, S.C. as the sports editor of The Aiken Standard.

Huffman is covering the AAU Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C. this weekend, which began Thursday morning and will continue through the weekend. Moments after he entered the gym, Huffman called to alert me that the first coach to arrive was none other than the current head coach at the University of Michigan.

"Talk about awkward," he said. "It's like seeing an ex-girlfriend face to face for the first time since you broke up."

Well put.

* * *

A pair of former Mountaineer basketball stars, Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle, are trying once again to make their mark on NBA teams. Gansey is suiting up for the Los Angeles Clippers' entry into the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. Pittsnogle, meanwhile, is doing his best to find a home with the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

For Gansey, the biggest obstacle is simple: his health. After a pair of nasty staph infections robbed him of a shot at the NBA last season, Mike has worked himself back into playing shape and is hoping things go better the second time around. If he can prove he is healthy and play at the high level he did at West Virginia, then one has to think that Gansey has a great shot of being invited to preseason camp. At the very worst, he should get an opportunity to play overseas or in a smaller league stateside.

Pittsnogle flourished in the CBA last season, and continued his great play recently in Puerto Rico. What Kevin must to to stick with the Cavs or any other NBA team is make shots. Off the bat, it's unrealistic to think that he'll have a shot to start and play 30 minutes a night in the NBA. With his long range shooting ability, he seems to be a good fit for a team looking for instant offense off the bench. But to be instant offense, you have to make shots. The more shots he makes, the better his chances of sticking around are. It sounds simple, and in theory it is. In all reality, however, it's one of the toughest things to to in sports.

Thus far, both players have held their own in the summer league. While that's a good sign, it doesn't guarantee that either will find themselves in an NBA camp this fall.

* * *

Finally, a slew of preseason college football publications have found their way to my mailbox recently, and some of the depth charts are downright comical. Self-proclaimed "guru" Phil Steele, for example, has Brandon Barrett listed as a wideout on WVU's depth chart. Barrett, of course, hasn't been with the WVU program since the Sugar Bowl, and won't be seen in the halls of the Puskar Center anytime soon.

Steele's inclusion of Barrett is just another example of what a crapshoot preseason magazines are. Nevertheless, they continue to sell like hotcakes. Why is that? Two words: the lull.

You just can't get around it.


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