Hol(l)iday Break

West Virginia's mostly off-week for finals leaves a bit of time for some notes and observations as the first half of the school (and sports) year comes to an end.

  • The first, of course, is Doc Holliday's expected move to Marshall to take the Herd's head coaching job. It's no secret that Holliday wants to be a head coach, and this position in his home state may be one that he simply can't pass up at this stage of his career. His move would certainly have a huge effect on West Virginia's recruiting, especially in this year's class, with so many Florida players either already committed to West Virginia or still being wooed. One thing to keep in in mind, however. As a head coach, recruiting contact is much more limited than as an assistant. His name will certainly carry weight, but it's his persistence and presence that has made him a recruiting force. How much will that carry over when he is a head coach?

    There's more to come on this story either way, but as a first blush reaction, it's hard to blame anyone that wants to move up the ladder in his chosen profession. Open to debate, of course, is whether a highly-paid coordinator position at the state's flagship university is still a rung below a head coaching job, with a 50% pay increase, at a school with no national buzz.

  • There's always room for difference of opinion, but I just don't get how Scott Kozlowski was not selected as the Big East's first-team all-league punter. That pick went to Rob Long of Syracuse, but a look at the numbers as well as relative performance leaves several questions. Long averaged 43.8 yards per kick, while Koz was a yard better at 44.8. Each had seven touchbacks. Long put eight more kicks inside the 20, but that's often a function of field position as much as it is placement, and Kozlowski was very good at killing the ball deep. Long had one punt blocked while Kozlowski was error free. And in the all-important net punting category, West Virginia was three yards better per kick (39.1 to 36.1). Granted, a handful of Syracuse punts were performed by Long's back-up, but it's clear that Kozlowski was a better punter than Long, and the Big East's best.

    Was Long's pick just another reiteration of pre-season rankings without a serious look at performance? Or an effort to help get a couple of players from the Cuse onto the team? Interpretations are as varied as West Virginia's uniform combinations, but this pick was simply wrong. Scott, you were robbed.

  • I see that there are already some preseason predictions coming out for college football next year. Are you kidding me? Can we finish this season first? And if the "thinking" in those columns is reflective of some of that I've seen recently, then they are going to be way off base.

    Looking locally, West Virginia is going to lose the heart of its defense in Reed Williams, and will be starting its third different quarterback in three seasons. I'm sure many pundits will give WVU's returning starters a cursory glance and immediately anoint it a Top 20 team, but that sort of drive-by evaluation shouldn't be given any more precedence than the latest National Enquirer article about Tiger Woods. Here's what you really need to know, and should be thinking:

    1) WVU will again have to rebuild its offensive line, and will need to get much more production from it

    2) It will be starting a quarterback who won't shrug off sacks and tackles the way the linebacker-sized Brown did

    3) It will have to find wide receivers that can get open downfield and catch the ball

    4) It will have to replace Kozlowski and again attempt to solve its kickoff coverage woes.

    Understand that I'm not saying West Virginia can't have a good season next year. It can. It could win the Big East. But it's not going to be a walk in the park, and any such expectations that are set by such early look aheads simply aren't valid.

    I'd also caution to look at the authors of some of these things – there's certainly some ulterior motives in play from some of those covering the league and WVU.

  • Before every home West Virginia basketball game, a well-made introductory video is shown on the Coliseum scoreboard to get the crowd into the game and amp up the excitement level for the contest. At the end, the video dissolves out, leaving just two words on a black background: "It 's time".

    I couldn't agree more. It's time for West Virginia's #6 rated men's squad to begin putting things together, rather than fraying at the edges. Injuries are enough of a problem to deal with -- players not buying into the program, as Bob Huggins detailed a couple of weeks ago -- will be enough to fracture the hopes and expectations this team had at the start of the season. There's a very thin margin of error for teams that hope to challenge for titles and make deep tournament runs, and just about anything can upset them. Just one unmotivated game bounced WVU from the NCAA tournament a year ago, for example.

    There's no doubt this squad has the talent to achieve its goals. But it has to put all that to work with a unified purpose in order to reach them.

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