Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 10, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 10, 2011


Let's talk about championship football teams. More specifically, let's talk about what championship football teams don't do:

   CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS DON'T tend to lose important conference games at home to 4-4 teams that lost to Marshall.
   Championship teams don't tend to lose enough focus in large segments of games that you want to send bushels of Ritalin to the pre-game and halftime locker rooms.
   CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS DON'T tend to have complete breakdowns in their kicking game, including:
   -Two consecutive punts of less than 15 yards, the second one allowing the opponent to start from its own 44-yard line a touchdown drive that tied the score at 21 just before halftime.
   -A missed a 32-yard field goal that would have brought a 24-21 third-quarter lead, but it veered farther left than a Socialist convention in San Francisco.
   -A blocked field goal that would have tied the game at 24, but instead resulted in an 82-yard touchdown return by the other team, giving it a 31-21 lead.
   -Fumble the ball on their own 15-yard line midway through the third quarter, leading to the opponent's go-ahead field goal.
   -Fumble the ball deep in the opponent's territory on the drive following the blocked kickoff return.
   -Fail to make a 4th-and-1 run on the other team's 36-yard line late in the third quarter, behind 24-21.
   Fail to stop the opponent's 4th-and-1 run on their own 39-yard line in the late fourth-quarter drive that gave the other team its winning touchdown.
   -Let a team that was last in the conference in red-zone offense score five times from the red zone and make the other team's erratic freshman quarterback look like Peyton Manning in his prime in the process.
   WVU DID ALL OF THESE THINGS last Saturday in its unsettling loss to the less-talented Louisville Cardinals, and in doing so, the Mountaineers virtually knocked themselves out of contention to be the Big East's championship team for the fourth consecutive season.
   In order to remain in contention for the Big East title and its subsequent appearance in a lucrative Bowl Championship Series game, WVU will have to win the rest of its conference games -- including this week's match with conference-leading Cincinnati -- and hope that Cincinnati loses another conference game after the WVU loss and Louisville loses two more.
   THAT IS A LONG SHOT TO US BECAUSE we're not all that confident that WVU will beat Cincinnati on ABC TV, on the road, at The Queen City's Paul Brown Stadium.
   Twenty-third ranked Cincinnati -- 7-1 on the season and undefeated in the Big East -- did play like a champion last Saturday.
   While WVU couldn't contain Louisville in Morgantown, Cincinnati came from behind in the fourth quarter on the road against Pitt, overcoming a 23-14 deficit to win, 26-23.
   WE NOTE THIS BECAUSE CINCINNATI is in line to win its third Big East football crown in four seasons.
In all four of those years -- including this one -- WVU has had more than enough talent to win the Big East and grab the BCS spot, but it lost big games.
   Most of those losses have been to inferior teams and we consider last Saturday's Louisville team to be among them.
   None of the losses were to teams that one could say definitely were better than WVU.
   This season it has been Syracuse and Louisville.
   Last season, it was Syracuse and Connecticut.
   THE TWO SEASONS BEFORE THAT, the Mountaineers lost to Cincinnati both times in close games and the Bearcats won the Big East both years.
   In 2008, WVU's other loss was to Pitt.
   In 2009, its other loss was to South Florida.
   The only teams among these that one could possibly say were more talented than WVU were Cincinnati's 2008 and 2009 teams, but we could argue those, too.
   WHAT CINCINNATI HAS BEEN able to do during the span -- and WVU hasn't -- is to win the games it had to win, or at least enough of them, to capture the BCS bid.
   Cincinnati, and UConn last year, played just well enough to win the Big East.
   WVU has played just well enough to come in second.
   That appears to be the case this time around as well.
   AS DISCONCERTING AS THAT IS TO US in The Mountaineer Nation, we all can agree that it's light years better right now to be us than it is to be a Penn State fan.
   We always have thought the Penn State program and its fans were a little sanctimonious -- and yes, a little hypocritical -- about themselves, brandishing an image of sainted propriety and looking askance at others in their neighborhood.
   That image has long been so important to them that they have long been willing to circle the wagons amid controversies to keep the image intact.
   Especially so, it seems, in the case of at least eight child molestations allegedly perpetrated by venerated long-time Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
   WE SUGGEST THAT IT was this collective willingness to protect the Penn State brand gone awry that led seemingly honorable people to show a bare minimum of legal acknowledgement and then look the other way to reports of Sandusky's perversions -- all for the purported good of the program.
   Now, their beloved program has been stained for years to come and who knows how many young men and boys have suffered in silence.
   SITUATIONS LIKE THIS CAN HAPPEN when individuals devote their hearts and sometimes their souls to a career, a cause, a corporation, a team -- to the point where they they can shed personal responsibility and conscience for the sake of going along with the perceived good of the group.
   This kind of subjective group think has brought about many a calamity in which people later look back objectively and wonder how it all could happen as it did.
   That's the only explanation we can find for why a group of high-powered Penn State administrators from university president Graham Spanier to 46-year head coach Joe Paterno on down could sit by and let this tragedy unfold in -- of all places -- Happy Valley, Pennsylvania.
   AS IT MOST OFTEN HAS THROUGHOUT HISTORY, the weight of what they were hiding became too heavy to conceal.
   The pent-up damage that had been closeted for years burst out with a force far worse than if the proper light had been shed on it when it happened and the proper action taken at the time.
   Get rid of the snowball and the avalanche doesn't happen.
   Paterno, Spanier and others at Penn State undoubtedly will feel the chill as they are forced into retirement, their proud legacies less intact.
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