When Tiger Woods was winning everything in sight over the last six months nobody batted an eye when he said he saw no reason why he couldn't win the Grand Slam of golf. Why should they? The guy was playing at such a high level that no player on the planet seemed capable of derailing Woods.
The ride fans of West Virginia University athletics have been enjoying for the last few years is showing no signs of letting up. Not in light of West Virginia's 73-67 win over Duke last Saturday which has put the Mountaineers into the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. The Mountaineers, under first year coach Bob Huggins, dispatched Arizona and Duke last weekend in Washington, D.C. to advance to this week's NCAA West Regional in Phoenix. WVU will meet third seeded Xavier in Thursday's first game at 7:10 p.m.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me reiterate that the 65 team field which is the NCAA College Basketball Championship may be the best sporting event going. Also known as March Madness, this three week spectacle began Tuesday night with a game between Coppin State and Mount Saint Mary's and will culminate on April 7 in the national championship game.
It is hard to say, but a bid to dance in NCAA field of 65 could be at stake when West Virginia meets Providence Wednesday at 2:30 in the opening round of the Big East Basketball Tournament. The Mountaineers are the fifth seed after hanging on to beat St. Johns in overtime last Saturday in Madison Square Garden. Having the regular season's last game in MSG can't hurt since that arena is also the venue of the Big East Tournament.
There was admittedly some nervousness in many circles with regard to the hiring of Bill Stewart as West Virginia University's new football coach. Many thought the hire was based too much on the emotion which was flowing in the wake of West Virginia's impressive win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
It may be years before Mountaineer fans come to grips with the debacle which was the loss to Pitt that cost the Mountaineers a spot in the national championship football game. Needing only a win over a 4-7 Pitt team at home to reach the title game is an opportunity which may never pass this way again.
It was in the back of my mind all week. The jinx of being number two in the Bowl Championship Series, that is. Still, West Virginia University's Football Team was a four touchdown favorite at home against a 4-7 Pitt team which had been beaten like a drum for most of the season, so I took solace in that.
As a lifelong West Virginia University athletics fan, I am having a hard time believing what is happening right now. The WVU football team entered the season with high hopes and lofty expectations. A loss to South Florida in September seemed to have dashed those hopes. Now, two months later, the Mountaineers are poised to play in the Bowl Championship Series championship game in the New Orleans Superdome on January 7. For the record, the BCS title game is not the Sugar Bowl as I've heard some radio types refer to the game. The Sugar Bowl is played six days earlier
Wow! What a difference a week makes. Last week when the Bowl Championship Series standings were released, West Virginia was in sixth place and facing long odds of making a leap into the top two. The top two teams in the final BCS standings play for the national championship in New Orleans.
When the season began, West Virginia University's football team was one of four or five teams favored to appear in that game. A late September loss to South Florida seemed to end those hopes, but since then teams ahead of WVU in the polls have tumbled. Eerily, the second place team seems to lose almost weekly.
West Virginia University's Football Team looked like they might just lose against Louisville last Thursday night in Morgantown. The Mountaineers appeared to be in control with a 17 point lead in the second half before the Cardinals rallied to tie the score at 31 all late in the fourth quarter. One could sense the season slipping away as the Cardinals gathered momentum.