Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 30, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 30, 2011

Posted:
Notes On A Scorecard.....
 
   CALL US NAIVE, hopelessly hopeful, blithely optimistic, ignorantly blissful Pollyannas if you want -- and we know some of you will -- but:
 
   We believe WVU is going to pull this off.
 
   We believe that when this Sunday rolls around, West Virginia University football Mountaineers will be up there on the screen and in the conversation.
 
   We believe that when the TV talking heads wearing clashing jackets and ties start to prattle incessantly on about this season's Bowl Championship Series matchups, the Mountaineers will be among the teams getting prattled about.
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   THAT'S BECAUSE following its exciting win over Pitt on Friday, we believe that WVU has the feel-good momentum to help it bully up and beat South Florida on national TV Thursday night in Tampa and that Cincinnati will put away Connecticut on Saturday, adding the final tie-breaking ingredient over Louisville that the 'Eers need to take the Big East's BCS bowl spot in what may be their final year in the conference.
 
   Of course, we could turn down the corners of our collective mouths and be patently pessimistic about it, too.
WVU has let us down the past few years with talented teams that fell just short of a BCS bid due to unexpected and unsettling defeats; losses that cast a pall over the Mountaineer Nation and cast aspersions on some of its coaches.
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   WE COULD ADD in the fact that WVU usually has a tough time playing South Florida and hasn't won in Tampa since 2005, when Pat White and Steve Slaton were mere freshmen en route to the Sugar Bowl title in a memorable defeat of Southeastern Conference champion Georgia.
 
   We could dwell on the fact that last year WVU needed South Florida to beat UConn the final game of the year to send WVU to the BCS, and it didn't happen as UConn won the major bowl trip on a winning 52-yard field goal in the game's final seconds.
 
   But we aren't thinking that way.
 
   Not this year.
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   THIS YEAR, WE BELIEVE that WVU is due a break and will make the break for themselves.
 
   We believe that the Mountaineers -- only about a one-point favorite by oddsmakers to beat USF -- will come up big and snap the two-game Tampa losing streak by holding troublesome USF quarterback B.J. Daniels in check and winning by at least 10 points to finish a 9-3 regular season.
 
   We believe that Cincinnati -- a nine-point favorite -- also will finish 9-3 with a double-digit win over a UConn team that is not as good as it was a year ago.
 
   We believe that WVU will end up in Miami, playing one-time Big East rival Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.
 
   We believe that WVU could beat Virginia Tech.
 
   Just call us true believers.
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   TWO THINGS DO worry us a bit about Cincinnati's game against UConn.
 
   1-Rumors swirling that Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones is a candidate for a number of vacant high-profile coaching jobs across the country, including UCLA, Illinois and North Carolina.
 
   2-A WVU win at USF eliminates Cincinnati from a chance at the BCS bid because of its 24-21 Nov. 12 loss to WVU.
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   THE THOUGHT that Jones might consider leaving for another job and/or the fact that a BCS bowl appearance is not available both could be a distraction for Cincinnati players and cause a letdown heading into Saturday's UConn game.
 
   UConn players will have no apparent distractions and likely will be motivated after an impressive 40-22 win over Rutgers last Saturday.
   If Cincinnati loses to UConn, the Mountaineers will be out of the BCS bowl picture even if they beat USF.
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   REGARDING THE PITT WIN: It sure felt good to come from behind to beat Pitt the way WVU did. It would have been a major pain to any WVU fan to lose to Pitt at a time when the series may not continue for a while or even longer than that as both programs start the process of moving in opposite directions to other conferences.
 
   Overcoming three fumbles -- two of which came from fumbled punts deep in WVU territory -- was impressive and gratifying, but let's not do that against USF, OK?
 
   How about USF having the three fumbles this time around?
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   ITEM: Speaking of USF, its home city of Tampa, next-door neighbor St. Petersburg, along with Cincinnati and Louisville, all placed in the top 16 in a Men's Health magazine survey of the saddest cities in America. Cincinnati was 16th, with Tampa, St. Petersburg and Louisville all finishing among the top-5 saddest cities, along with Detroit and Memphis.
 
   INSIGHT: No wonder they're sad -- they're still in the Big East.
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   ITEM: A reliable source reports that 1980s star WVU safeties Tim Agee and Bo Orlando have contacted WVU exile and new University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez to state their interest in coaching defensive backs for the Wildcats.
 
   INSIGHT: We have never met Bo Orlando, but we have gotten to know Mr. Agee a bit in recent years and think he would be a good hire. He's smart, focused, a good guy with charisma and class who can be serious-minded and disarmingly funny in the same paragraph, a guy who is driven to succeed and can relate to people, all qualities that would serve anyone well in coaching.
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   WVU BASKETBALL IS going into full swing, starting with a nationally televised game at Mississippi State on Saturday, followed by a Dec. 8 game against Kansas State in Wichita.
 
   Monday's comfortable win over Akron gave WVU a 4-1 record on the young season, with the meat of a schedule rated as one of the toughest, if not the toughest, looming ahead.
 
   Considering how many young and inexperienced players head coach Bob Huggins has on his roster, winning 18 games this season would in our opinion represent one of the best coaching jobs in Huggins' career.
 
   After this year, watch out, as young players such as guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne gain valuable experience and highly regarded transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten become eligible after being held out a season due to transfer rules.
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