10. Coach Bill Stewart is living the American Dream. A good old New Martinsville boy that woke up one day to be the head coach of the West Virginia University Mountaineers. To rally the troops the way he did was very inspirational. During the post-game ceremony, every question posed to Coach Stewart was quickly turned into either one of two responses: (1) It is all about the fantastic job done by the players and their commitment or (2) it is great day to be a West Virginian. Everyone on the ride back from Glendale seemed to be genuinely happy for Coach Stewart and his family and thought he was the right choice. I can't wait to drive from Follansbee down to New Martinsville in the near future where I'll see a sign that reads, "Welcome to the home Bill Stewart, Head Coach of the West Virginia University Mountaineers!"
9. During a game bad calls by the referees usually even out, but last night I really thought West Virginia got the short end of the stick. Early in the first quarter WVU had clearly stopped Oklahoma on a third and short, and the referees marked the ball nearly one to one-and-a-half yards beyond where it should have been spotted.. I'll also never forget the image of the Oklahoma lineman clutching onto the back of Johnny Dingle's jersey as if trying to water ski. There is an old adage that referees could call a holding penalty on every play, and I am confirming that the referees could have called holding on Oklahoma on nearly every play. Particularly on whoever was blocking Johnny Dingle.
8. This West Virginia defense has turned out to be one of the best ever at the school. If you start around mid-season, this group has been tremendous. An old high school football coach once told me that without senior leadership a team will fail. Seniors Keilen Dykes, Johnny Dingle, Ryan Mundy, Larry Williams, Antonio Lewis and Marc Magro were the foundation for this defense, and just would not let this team lose.
7. One of the most surprising outcomes of the game was how WVU's lines dominated the line scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We've constantly been brainwashed by the media as to how big Oklahoma was and how the Mountaineers would have a rough time competing. I wasn't buying this, but I was surprised that West Virginia was able to ring up 349 yards rushing yards. The Mountaineers were also able to stop the Sooners on several short-yardage conversion opportunities. I work for an engineering firm in Pittsburgh and we are always competing against some of the largest engineering firms in the United States. We are constantly telling our customers, "bigger isn't better, better is better!" I believe the same applies here.
6. On Tuesday morning I was watching ESPN SportsCenter and Pat Forde was predicting that West Virginia was going to lose big to Oklahoma. Pat's been a big West Virginia supporter this season, but he really jumped off the bandwagon for the Fiesta Bowl. I saw Pat before the game and asked him about his report and I believe I caught him a little off guard as if he made the statement, but didn't believe anyone watched ESPN. He started to retract the statement, but then said, "You guys need to show me something." Pat, I believe that WVU did!
5. My buddy believes that I was home schooled as there are certain things in life that I am not aware of. One of those occurred yesterday. During the pre-game festival put on by the Fiesta Bowl we ran into the "Naked Cowboy." In case you are like me and don't know who the "Naked Cowboy" is, picture this: a very muscular man only wearing white briefs (i.e. underwear approaching a Speedo), a cowboy hat, a cowboy boots and his guitar. The most disturbing sight, however, was watching men posing with the "Naked Cowboy" for pictures. Let me establish a new "Man Rule": Men do not pose for pictures with the "Naked Cowboy!"
4. On the way out to the Fiesta, I was sitting at a gate at the Pittsburgh Airport with no one around me for 10-12 seats. An airline attendant sits down beside me and with a hard stare says, "You didn't give us the game, we BEAT you. You understand me, we BEAT you." I said, "Excuse, why are talking smack on me, did I do something to you?" She then pulls back her jacket and shows me her Pitt pin on her blouse. She then wanted to talk so more about Pitt so I just opened up a book and started to read – she went away. While on Pitt fans, what about the Pitt fan going up and down the aisle in the fourth quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, saying Pitt is the Fiesta Bowl champs. These things always remind me why Jack Fleming had one cry, "BEAT PITT!"
3. I loved the grease board the players raised at the end of the game that simply read, "84% Wrong" This was in reference to the ESPN national poll that showed that 84% of the nation believed that Oklahoma would win. This was great bulletin board material as evidenced by the players' reactions.
2. You run out of superlatives for players like Pat White and Owen Schmitt. These guys were just tremendous in terms leadership and their play. Too bad the third amigo, Steve Slaton was injured early, but as we are aware Noel Devine is just amazing and did a great job. Pat's leadership was again evident as he made the announcement that the team wanted Coach Stewart to be the permanent head coach. I loved Owen Schmitt's comments after the game, "You have no idea how much this means to me. I love this state. Love this team." Owen, I believe you have no idea how much you mean to this team and to this state. We are all wishing you the very best in the NFL and can't wait to hear ESPN's Chris Berman make his sound effects when you carry the ball.
1. As badly as December was for Mountaineer Nation, January could not have started any better. First the Oklahoma win (let me use Stewart's words), was a colossal win for West Virginia, and with a month remaining before high school students can commit to a school, the Mountaineer staff has plenty of time to right the ship. Gang, three consecutive bowl wins with two BCS bowl victories puts WVU among the very elite of college football. Have a happy and safe New Year and I'll see you in Morgantown in April for the Gold-Blue game.