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WVU: What went wrong?

November 14, 2012
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer (rgibson@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

This was supposed to be the week ESPN's College Game Day invaded Morgantown in anticipation of Saturday's Oklahoma-West Virginia Big 12 showdown.

After holding off Texas Oct. 6 in an electrifying outcome at Austin, Geno Smith and the Mountaineers were 5-0 and firmly established as national championship contenders. For his part, Smith was clearly head and shoulders above the competition for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Six weeks later, WVU owns a four-game losing streak. Though undoubtedly still prolific, Smith's stock has declined dramatically, perhaps to a point he may not even rate an invite to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Not only have the old Gold and Blue fallen on hard times, WVU suddenly finds itself scrambling to qualify for what surely will be a second-tier bowl invite.

Dana Holgorsen's club will need an above-and-beyond-the-call performance Saturday to upend a favored Sooners' team. Furthermore, the Mountaineers will likely have to score 50 or more points to prevail.

I've closely followed West Virginia football the better part of 50-plus years and have never been more embarrassed for the program. It's more than painful witnessing - by far - the worst defensive unit in school history.

I'd like to think Holgorsen's days are numbered, though it's hard to speculate the mindset of WVU athletic director Oliver Luck. At least. Luck has Sunday afternoons to look forward to with son, Andrew, already establishing himself as a formidable NFL quarterback.

Smith's collegiate career, meanwhile, will rank among the school's most productive. Unfortunately, much of his achievements are destined to be lost in the aftermath of the team's defensive deficiencies.

Luck may well retain Holgorsen's services next season. Obviously, though, there must be a dramatic defensive upgrade to return WVU's grid program to some degree of prominence.

Before the Mountaineers' slide ignited with the first of four setbacks to Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State, respectively, Ohio State was in the process of running off six consecutive wins.

Six weeks later, Urban Meyer is making a strong case for national coach of the year honors. Should OSU find a way Saturday afternoon at Madison, then take down Michigan in the season finale, Meyer and the Bucks will have achieved a 12-0 season, postseason sanctions notwithstanding.

Braxton Miller, meanwhile, has trumped Smith in the Heisman race.

EXTRA POINTS

DUE to medical issues, we've been unable to attend local high school football games this fall. We have, however, closely monitored the 2012 campaign. Reaching week 13 in the state of Ohio is more than a noteworthy accomplishment. And while it's totally unrealistic to think Brett McLean's St. Clairsville Red Devils will continue to overwhelm the competition, St. C.'s offensive achievements have been off the chart. Here's to another successful Friday night at Zanesville where St. C. faces defending regional champ Johnstown-Monroe.....

ON the West Virginia side, an anticipated Madonna-Magnolia Class A championship playoff matchup would attract a monster turnout on the Island. Both the Blue Dons and Blue Eagles, however, have work to be done before that potential showdown becomes reality.... .

 
 

 

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