A Glass Half Full: WVU Programs On the Rise

Resident columnist Cam Huffman is bullish on WVU's athletic program.

No one can argue that last year was one of the worst years in Mountaineer athletics in a long while. The football team entered the season with high hopes only to end up with a 3-8 record. The basketball team entered the season with similarly high expectations and a recruit that was touted as the savior of the program.

The basketball season ended terribly, as well, with an 8-20 record and a program in shambles. Add to these seasons the fiasco with hiring a new basketball coach, an NCAA investigation of the basketball program, and major player attrition and the entire athletic program here at WVU seemed to be in major trouble. Since that time, however, many positive things have been happening in WVU athletics. The program seems to now be moving in the right direction.

First, there is no doubt that the football team is moving in the right direction. The Mountaineers may not be ready to compete for the national title, but improvements have definitely been made.

In the last contest against Cincinnati, the offense that we have heard so much about for the last two seasons, began to emerge. The Mountaineers ran the offense at the tempo and rhythm that it takes to make this "Spot The Ball" offense a success.

The Mountaineer offense had success both through the air and on the ground against what we found out the next week was a quality Cincinnati team, after their near upset of Ohio State.

The football program is also making major strides in connecting the team with the community. Activities such as the pre-season pep rally for students, Fan Day, and the new tradition of the team and fans singing "Country Roads" together after a victory have brought the fans closer to their team than ever before.

The team works extremely hard and the players truly believe they can win every game. That attitude must be present for success to happen on the football field. It may not happen over night, but the football program is headed in the right direction.

Next, is the basketball program. It may have been a long, drawn out, even embarrassing process, but I truly believe that we have found the right man for the coaching job.

I had the opportunity, this summer, to live and work in Richmond, Coach Beilein's previous stomping grounds. I walked around the Robins Center, the home of UR basketball, at least twice a week. Being the type of Mountaineer fan that I am, I always wore something showing my support of the Mountaineers.

One would think that I may have received some harassment for showing my loyalties so openly. This, however, was not the case. Every person I ran into simply told me how great of a coach we were getting. Coach Beilein made a tremendous impression on not only the athletic program but the entire university and the community. His on the court results cannot be argued either.

Beilein won 100 games with the Spiders in only five seasons. The new Mountaineer coach has already started from the beginning with his Mountaineer team concentrating heavily on proper fundamentals and discipline. I expect nothing less than tremendous success from Coach Beilein in the coming years.

Just like football, however, we must remember to be patient. A quality program cannot be built overnight.

Other programs around the WVU campus are also experiencing success. The women's soccer team now holds a 7-1-0 record and a 10th place ranking in the NSCAA coaches poll. I admittedly know very little about soccer, but a 10th place ranking is impressive in any sport.

The ranking is even more impressive when you consider that WVU did not even have a women's soccer program until 1996. In seven years, Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has taken the program from being non existent to being ranked number ten in the country. Nobody can argue with this success.

Aside from these programs many great things are happening with the facilities around Morgantown. In the past few years the football stadium has seen the addition of a new indoor practice facility, a new state of the art video scoreboard, and a great new playing surface. Plans are already underway for improvements on the already impressive Puskar Center at the Mountaineer Field complex as well.

Across campus, the Coliseum has also seen many improvements in the past couple of years. The halls were painted white, which greatly improved the looks, and a new floor was installed. Many more improvement projects have already begun and plans to update and improve the locker rooms are on the boards as well.

A new soccer complex has been built near the Coliseum in the past few years and Hawley Field is a very enjoyable place to watch a baseball game.

I realize that it has been difficult rooting for the Mountaineers lately but, as you can see, things are on the way up. We have a number of programs that we can be proud of and, most importantly, our coaches are doing things the right way. We should all keep our heads up, wear our gold and blue, and be proud to be Mountaineers.

On that note, I hope to see everyone at Mountaineer field on Saturday. Let's fill the stadium with gold and blue, keep Mountaineer Field loud, and don't forget to stay and sing "Country Roads" after a big Mountaineer win. Let's Go Mountaineers!

Cam Huffman is a senior at WVU majoring in Physical Education and Teacher Education. He plans to attend graduate school for a sports management degree.

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