Relieved At Last

Many Mountaineer faithful will be reaching in their pocketbooks this week to pay off their pre season bets. How many of you had faith in this young, troubled Mountaineer football team?

I recall many cynics and skeptics last summer clamoring over how "this team would be lucky to win 6 games" or "they don't have enough talent to go to a bowl." Well, the buck stops here. We did it. We have created a bunch of bandwagon fans. I love it.

Some of my closest colleagues, friends and family are all of the sudden believers. They don't just wear their favorite blue and gold shirt to rake leaves or mow the lawn. They actually wear it out in public. They are proud and rightfully so.

This Mountaineer team is quietly attacking the newsstands, talk shows and vernacular of those claiming to be gurus of collegiate football. We are not only surprising many, but impressing them. Coach Rod and his staff have done a splendid job of keeping the team focused and fundamentally sound. They have improved throughout the season, and that says a lot about their leadership.

Coach Rod has had an uphill battle this year. Young kids, evolving systems, new staff and change don't even scratch the surface. He has implemented many of the things involved with being a new leader, like propagating a compelling image, instituting change, and surrounding himself with quality people whom believe in him. And, he has learned some lessons along the way.

It is very easy to be critical during times of change and newness. Coach Rod has suppressed his critics. He now disserves much of the credit for the success thus far. He and his staff should be commended for their efforts.

I would be remiss if I forgot the folks in the trenches. The players. They have been nothing less than spectacular. It is extremely enjoyable to see these kids come together and execute. They flat out dominated Temple. We started warming up the buses early cause the game technically was over at halftime.

The "D" locked down the Owls offense for a miserable 16 yards in the first 24 minutes of action and took advantage of some really sloppy play by the Owls. The "O" just mailed the letter time after time. When they got it, they scored. That's what good teams do. They take advantage of the opposing team's mistakes and capitalize on opportunities.

Now that we have hit what some may call a milestone, what does the rest of the season have in store for us? The road doesn't get any easier. Two of our next three opponents upset undefeated, top 10 teams last week and the other was one of the newly defeated and probably not very happy about it. So, we have our work cut out for us.

I'm hoping for Boston College to come into Morgantown still on cloud nine and ready for a let down after knocking off Notre Dame. Instead of "Touchdown Jesus" looking over them, they will have a hostile sea of blue and gold.

Tom O'Brien and his Eagles ought to be nervous. They face an improving Mountaineer team that is still hungry to win "the big game." The givens are that it is tough to respond after a big game and it is difficult for any opponent to play well at Mountaineer Field. So, considering the givens, there is no reason why we can't beat the Eagles. I'm looking forward it.

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