I’ve been asked several questions about West Virginia University’s athletics multiple times over the last week, so I will address my thoughts on several of those topics.
What do you think about WVU suing the Big East?
Well, I wish I had more of a legal background to really understand the move. From a general perspective I do not favor lawsuits when one party tries to break an agreement with another. After WVU filed the suit to depart from the Big East it would appear many state and national sports journalists would agree. For the most part local and national opinion articles criticized WVU’s move.
I support the move. From reading and listening, I gather that a number of folks thought the suit brought by WVU was a vehicle for the Mountaineers to just walk away from their obligation to the Big East. The obligation to depart is $5 million and a 27-month notice. West Virginia has already sent the Big East $2.5
million of the exit fee and is going to pay the rest.
So the suit is really about the 27-month obligation. WVU and the Big 12 Conference announced that the Mountaineers would become members of the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. Well, West Virginia can’t do that if they are contractually obligated to remain in the Big East, so they are suing the conference for breach of contract to get out. Basically the suit says that with the departure of Pitt, Syracuse and TCU the conference is no longer a viable football conference and it would harm WVU to remain a member.
Anyway, I’ve included a web address below that offers a more qualified insight on the suit. In the eyes of this non-lawyer, but based on a few legal opinions I’ve heard, the suit is not intended for WVU to just walk away free and clear. The suit may sound like that, but its purpose is to get the Big East to settle on an amount in damages so WVU can pay it and go to the Big 12 next year. The suit should expedite that process.
Conference realignment has not been WVU’s friend. Since 2003 the Atlantic Coast Conference has poached five teams from the Big East. All of those defections have hurt WVU’s position in the college football landscape, but the most recent pair, Pitt and Syracuse, has really put WVU in a tough spot. It really makes it clear that the ACC, where West Virginia has many traditional and geographic rivals, is not going to let the Mountaineers join their conference.
WVU’s action is about survival, because they had an offer from the Big 12 while the SEC and ACC could not make any solid promises. The Big 12 offer is not contingent on West Virginia being able to join next year, but it may well have been contingent on WVU making every effort to join next year.
Go here for an interesting analysis: www.anonymous eagle.com/2011/10/31/ 2527939/wvu-v-the-big-east-as-explained-by-a-semi-literate-lawyer
Will West Virginia win another football game this year?
WVU going to the Big 12 to play Oklahoma and Texas every year makes a lot of sense when they can’t take care of Syracuse and Louisville in the Big East, right?
Well, it does make sense, though at this point in Dana Holgorsen’s first season as West Virginia’s head coach things couldn’t look much worse for WVU. In the last three league games WVU has allowed 49, 31 and 38 points to teams coming into games with unimpressive offensive stats. That 38-point total was posted by Louisville last Saturday in a 38-35 loss that leaves WVU (6-3, 2-2) looking almost indefensible against remaining opponents Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida. Based on what we’ve seen in the last three games it would be hard to make a good case that WVU will win any of the three remaining games. Even so, arguments could be made on WVU’s behalf, but those would come with some big “ifs.”
The biggest “if” going on right now is special teams play. Kickoff returns have haunted WVU this year. Against Louisville a shanked punt and a blocked field goal for a Louisville touchdown led to a 17-point swing in the final score.
Jeff Casteel and his defense are getting some heat from the fans. The 38 points on Saturday were not all on the defense, but the defense is not what we are used to seeing. Sure, we knew we had a lot of big shoes to fill due to seven starters from last season’s top ranked defense departing, but we (Kool-Aid drinking fans) may have overestimated the quality of the feet trying to fill those shoes.
Then there is the productive, but schizophrenic, offense. The offense has piled up yards and points in most games, but has rarely looked good for extended stretches. This offense could be scary good if it ever clicks regularly. Saturday there were two dropped passes that would have been touchdowns. Quarterback Geno Smith, continues his prolific passing, but has recently been having trouble with turnovers.
Holgorsen is new to the head-coaching hot seat and now faces issues on all three sides of the ball. How he addresses these in the next three games will be interesting.
What do you think about the WVU basketball team?
I did not expect the West Virginia basketball team to lose on a buzzer beating three pointer to Division ll Northern Kentucky in an exhibition game last Friday.
I did expect to see the team struggle with seven new faces on the team and only three returning players with any experience. Those three Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli all bring valuable assets to the table, but all three need help from teammates on the floor to reach their maximum effectiveness. That is to say they can score within an offensive structure, but not really adept at creating their own shot.
My thinking is coach Bob Huggins is one of the top basketball coaches anywhere, and he will have the newcomers functional at some point.
Hopefully by sometime in January, but it may well take longer. These guys will take a few lumps, but it will be interesting to see them develop.