Bailey, Austin Strike a Pose in Season Finale - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bailey, Austin Strike a Pose in Season Finale


The anatomy of a handshake can be a very precise science.

After each of their touchdowns this season, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have found each other for what has become a bit of a West Virginia football tradition. Their celebratory handshake is synonymous with six points on the scoreboard and when the two have combined for 50 touchdowns this season, they can do this thing in their sleep.

Heck, anyone who watched all 12 of the Mountaineers' games could likely run through the drill if there was reason enough to celebrate.

Right hand out, hit the front of the hand, then the back, then the front twice. Check. The last move has been a salute, and Bailey gives a simple reason for it.

"At first, after we go through the handshake process, we just salute each other and that kind of came up with the whole air raid thing, just thinking like, hey, we're pilots, salute each other. Every time we score, we would try to do that, but today, we switched it up."

On Saturday, with Austin playing his final home game as a senior and Bailey likely treading on Mountaineer Field one last time as well, they changed the routine.

Bailey caught his second touchdown in a 59-10 win over Kansas, he found his teammate and the handshake got its first facelift after 48 renditions (Sometimes they'll do it just for fun or before a kickoff return, too, so the exact number could be too high to count).

Right hand out, hit the front of the hand, then the back, then the front twice. Check. And then, not a salute, but a Heisman pose. Perfectly planned, perfectly clear – a statement.

"Sted's up for the Biletnikoff and at times, we think me and Geno [Smith] should have been up for the Heisman, so Sted just came to me and said we were going to do it and I told him I was going to follow through on it and if we got in trouble, we got in trouble," said Austin.

The two were not flagged for their celebrations, but Bailey believes the point came across and regardless of how the postseason awards play out, they made their stance clear.

"We'd just been talking a little bit and me personally, I feel like Tavon should be somewhere in the Heisman race," Bailey said. "We just feel like he doesn't get enough respect when it comes to that, so we just wanted to show something to get some attention for him."

Austin took it one step further, though. The next time WVU got on the board, it was Austin crossing the goal line. Once the Kansas players covering him had unloaded, he stood, jogged from the pile and again, alone this time, struck the pose.

"I can say all of us definitely deserve to be in it, but in reality, none of us probably will be in there," Austin said, referring to himself, Bailey or Smith being invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York City. "Even if one of us was in there, each of us would feel good, but knowing none of us is in there just makes us feel like damn, we aren't doing that in front of the country?"

All three of these players have put together seasons that have them poised for plenty of honors, with Austin already on an All-American team, Bailey one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award and Smith on multiple quarterback award lists.

Austin's 2,760 total yards this season rank him second in the nation as he continues to make defenders and school records fall at his feet.

His receiving numbers are staggering for a player who makes such a high percentage of his catches behind or just beyond the line of scrimmage. He has pulled in a WVU season record 110 receptions for 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. In recent weeks lined up as a running back, he's added 598 yards on 61 carries, good for 9.8 yards per rush, with two scores.

On special teams, he has a combined 905 yards returning with a touchdown on both punt and kick returns.

Bailey's 23 receiving touchdowns are better than both Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon when they each won the Biletnikoff in back-to-back seasons. Bailey still has one game remaining in his season to add to that number.

WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen rightly points out, though, that a player on a team that is far from the No. 5 ranking it once held will be relegated to an afterthought in most minds.

"Are they capable of it? Yes," Holgorsen said. "Is Geno as good of a quarterback as there is out there? Absolutely. Is Tavon as dynamic of a player as there is in college football? Yes, he is. Is Stedman as dynamic at the receiver spot as anybody out there? Absolutely. When you're 7-5, you're not going to get that."

So instead, they change a handshake. They strike a pose. They have fun while they're still together, knowing what their play on the field warrants, regardless of whether or not their fireplace mantle becomes the new home to a piece of hardware from the 2012 season.

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