Friday Feedback

May 29, 2015 by Mike Casazza

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which is starting to find its swing again. But spring and summers are weird around here, and the news generators we could once rely on are spinning slowly and churning out silly stuff. Take the Big 12 for example: It’s provided and proposed conversation and chaos and everything in between in recent years. The waters are still this time around, only now they don’t run too deep.

Satellite camps are fun to talk about, but there’s nothing formative to the discussion.

The Big 12 won’t mandate at least one highly visible opponent for every football team every season, and Baylor, it would seem, got the hint and is revisiting he 2016-20 schedules.

So the sights are locked on — prepare yourself — sportsmanship.

Hey, it’s where they are now, no matter how much we might scoff and how much snark we might throw their way. So now there are punitive measures in place to react to situations and hand out penalties. There’s no in-game application of this, and if we’re being honest, these are small and not unnecessary maneuvers that wouldn’t be getting nearly as much attention and reaction in other years with bigger diversions.

But court/field storming is a matter the league needed to address. I’m on #TeamFun and I think it’s part of the college experience I’ll forever champion, but that Kansas State in the winter was concerning. I don’t see why ugly chants can’t be touched and shaped by the rule book. And yesterday’s news — excessive on-site replays of controversial plays will be subject to punishment — is fine by me. You can’t tell me big screens don’t whip fans up into a frenzy and/or affect officials.

In an ordinary year with bigger fish to fry, this doesn’t make the menu. This just isn’t an ordinary year. What’s wrong with cleaning up the games? Nothing. What’s wrong, in a matter of speaking, is the Big 12 doesn’t have any other messes to clean up this time around.

Anyhow, that lack ‘o news has kept us sedated here, and my mind has wondered. When I’m not vacationing and submitting the top American time in a 5K in Brugge, I’m taking on city hall and later making a meal out of dormant fire hydrants (Update: After three weeks of the battle, we have a winner!) And I’m teaching a summer class, too, which keeps me busy in the mornings and even leads me to discoveries about myself writing, the craft and the past.

So seeing as if we have some time, can we talk about this for a moment?

Long story short, my summer class is about storytelling (media writing, to be precise). I get a mix of journalism majors, though, and invariably you can see me teaching print skills (lede writing, inverted pyramid, AP style, etc.; it’s the focus of the syllabus) while the advertising and public relations kids are thinking The heck does this have to do with my major? 

It’s a good question, and this is why I spend time showing them the skill is the same across all forms of media. You have to tell a story for broadcast news, photo journalism, advertising, public relations, so on and so forth. We all do it with words, be it a script, ad copy, friendly quotes or pointy opinions. Even pictures, which have no words, tell a story, and the best ones are worth several hundred and perhaps a thousand words. If they can gasp this build-a-story technique, they’re set conceptually the rest of their way through the college of media.

So the early part of the semester is telling the students this, and one part of one day goes toward print, radio and television commercials. We look at, listen to or watch some, identify the story and continue to work in reverse until we arrive at the start. I spend some time researching, which is how and why I found that PBR ad. It’s amazing. I’ve watched it hundreds of times, which is why I haven’t been around here as much as I ought to. I can’t even blame it on the Big 12 or coaches on vacation or not having games to cover. It’s Swayze and the hair and the mannerisms. Like, why is he aggressively almost brushing up against the wall as he exits the apartment? How can I get my hair to do that? Wouldn’t this commercial work right now?

I can sit here and talk about this for a while. Or we can pore over WVU football’s scheduling philosophy, which has two major goals: No more FCS opponents and getting the band back together. “Without a doubt,” he said, “we’d love to reignite the Backyard Brawl.”

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, prioritize.

I love you, Doug! said:

I see five pretty-guaranteed wins:

– Georgia Southern
– Liberty
– Maryland
– At Kansas
– Iowa State

That means they need three wins from the following:

– At Oklahoma
– Oklahoma State
– At Baylor
– At TCU
– Texas Tech
– Texas
– At Kansas State

Only possibilities I see are Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and at Kansas State.

Oklahoma State’s going to be really good relative to expectations. I was shocked at the O/U of 7. I think that’s over easily. It helps WVU gets the Cowboys, and Texas Tech, at home, though.

Read the rest of this entry »


May 28, 2015 by Mike Casazza

When Bob Huggins needed two players to close the window on the 2015 recruiting class, he signed a junior college guard from North Dakota and a wing player from Georgia.

Or not.

Teyvon Myers is the well-traveled high-scorer from the juco ranks, but he hails from Brooklyn and has known Tarik Phillip since they were kids. Lamont West is the rangy big man with guard skills from the Peach State, but he’s from Cincinnati and he’s known and idolized Devin Williams for a long time. They’re the continuation of the path from Ohio to WVU and the clearing off of the roadway from New York City to Morgantown.

The sixth New York City player to sign with Huggins, West finally feels he has it right. He has been friends for years with WVU guard Tarik Phillip, another Brooklyn product who was rerouted through two junior colleges, and he knew former WVU stars Truck Bryant and Devin Ebanks from the courts in New York.

“None of them had an effect on my decision,” Myers said. “What had an effect on my decision was knowing how Coach Huggins took care of those players. They talked about it, so with that and watching it on TV, I swear I was a fan of his. It was like, ‘This dude really cares about his players.’

“So for me to have an opportunity to take a visit to West Virginia and see how he cares for his players in person, how he treats his players like his own son, that clicked for me, like, ‘I want to play for this guy. He can take me to the promise land.’ ”


Here’s the SEC making a bunch of noise

May 28, 2015 by Mike Casazza

It’s about satellite camps, and it’s a silly debate that wastes time and breath. In short, the NCAA has a rule that prevents schools from traveling beyond a 50-mile radius surrounding campus to conduct camps (Read: recruiting events). The ACC and SEC, though, have a specific rule that blocks a loophole exploited most notably by the Big Ten and, to a lesser extent, the Big 12 and Pac-12. Those leagues have seen their schools legally breach the 50-mile circle by being invited guests at camps at colleges, universities and high schools.

It’s been happening for a few years. Kevin Sumlin was the first to make an issue of it during his first offseason at Texas A&M, and James Franklin exited Vanderbilt and brought the practice to the forefront last year by traveling to Georgia and Florida on behalf of his new Penn State program. Now Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh are making a lot of noise about joining the parade, and schools in the Big 12 (Oklahoma State and Iowa State seem most invested) are packing their bags as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brass tacks

May 28, 2015 by Mike Casazza

You know, in a way it’s a good thing WVU fans don’t care much about Big 12 rivals (yet, right now, in perpetuity, whatever). There isn’t a regular visitor to the Coliseum, for example, that generates the sort of vitriol, the sort of venom, we once witnessed in Big East battles. Why, a visit from Kansas is good for a yawn, an upset and the flick of a wrist to ink 25 grr Bob Huggins’ way. This is not to say it won’t happen, especially if this Iowa State thing continues to spin into a major storm, but for now, no, there isn’t a lot of animosity coming from the seats.

So perhaps the Mountaineers can breathe easy knowing they don’t figure to soon be affected by one of the coming changes to sportsmanship in the Big 12. ((Mr. Ubben highlights the days other, I don’t know, highlights, in the rest of the text at the link.)

Inappropriate chants also fall under the new sportsmanship policy.

“We have had some issues with that over the past year,” Bowlsby said.

The league is requiring each school to appoint a student life staff member to assist the athletic department to help student leadership communicate that chants with “foul language or inappropriate intent” won’t be tolerated.

The SEC has a policy in which teams incur fines for all court and field stormings. Fines are raised for each additional incident.

The Big 12’s policy is mostly concerned with the safety of the opposing team and officials, and further incidents will be subject to review from the conference office and could face penalty.

What would Pitt eat in this Big 12? What would one do to the Irish if WVU and Notre Dame still shared conference space? And does this, or should this, cover the B.S. fans do and will rain down upon officials with whom they have disagreements?

Those are all things to consider as part of the league’s new policy that’s geared mostly at maintaining safety and sanity on playing surfaces after games. It features punitive measures like reprimands, fines and, in egregious and/or continued violations, the loss of future home games, which is bold.

Crazy 8?

May 27, 2015 by Mike Casazza

We’re inside the wall of 100 days that separates us from the first Saturday of the college football season, and you know we’re getting close when Las Vegas starts enticing us with its ways. The 5Dimes Sportsbook and Casino yesterday released its over/under projections for the major NCAA programs. WVU checked in at 8 regular-season wins (if the link doesn’t work in your browser, go to the “college props” item on the menus on the left), which would not seem to be in line with what many of you are thinking.




It’s FIBA, and not the NBA, the NCAA is eyeballing

May 27, 2015 by Mike Casazza

We’ve mentioned and discussed lately that the NCAA seems to be molding its game to resemble something else. Our theory for a spell was that everything was intended so that the NCAA might better resemble the NBA, and many of you sighed and fretted about that act of imitation because those are two separate products that are consumed or ignored with particular merit. More and more, though, I hear that people who are in the rooms or in the business get the feeling the NCAA’s rules-makers are looking at FIBA as their model — and understand there’s some frustration there because international prospects are schooled in a way that’s dramatically different from how American prospects are schooled.

Still, we say the 30-second shot clock is a nod to the NBA. FIBA has a 24-second clock, too. We say moving the arc under the basket a foot back is a NBA ploy. FIBA’s arc is just about the same as the NBA’s. You want free-flowing basketball with ease of movement and the ball matriculating faster than a defender? You can digest the NBA, but FIBA is an alternative as well.

The markings on the court, the way the game is timed, that has an NBA influence. But the way the game is played inside those marks and within the time constraints, that has a FIBA influence.

College basketball is trying to achieve and secure a free-flowing style of play where players with and without the ball can move without restrictions, where offenses are enabled to operate with ease and speed, where teams can play like international clubs. The NCAA will do many things to pursue this, like having officials call more fouls for contact on the perimeter, though this started in the middle of last season. In the Big 12, in-season memos made their way to teams that sought to prevent contact and really seemed to target WVU and its press — though officials were also encouraged to watch for players traveling out of traps, too.

Bah, I can’t fool you, though. Feel free to discuss the final sentence as you will.

And the WR corps gets another boost

May 26, 2015 by Mike Casazza

Ka’Raun White has been on campus for more than a week now, and the somewhat skinny receiver position will get some more help when the first wave of recruits arrive for the start of the next summer session June 8.

Durante is a prominent name in WVU’s recruiting class for myriad reasons — he’s coming through the pipeline, he’s quite good, he’s highly regarded, he might have flipped to Alabama for a minute — but none greater than his involvement in the very ugly, very public airing of grievances at Miramar High this past season. And let’s be careful with the word “involvement,” because he was dragged into the mess. Facts of the case aside, kid pass and fail all the time and don’t always make news like that, and that was always unfair to Durante.

Dana Holgorsen was adamant on signing day that WVU “wouldn’t take guys that we think would have an eligibility problem.” He further said “us studying each and every one of these guys academically we all feel like they are in a good spot to be eligible.” That followed similarly firm statements from WVU’s compliance department that defendered Damon Cogdell. So this would seem to stand in line, no?

Well, yes and no. Durante’s tweet is good news — he’s graduating, meaning he has (and had) the grades to walk across the stage, so it is fair to wonder how bad his grades were and how accurate accusations were — but it means absolutely zero about eligibility and any guarantees beyond him showing up in June. After all, this is not an edict from WVU, and kids have been and will be overexcited and innocently unaware about their statuses and their futures. Could the NCAA’s Eligibility Center page him one day? Sure, though some good signs have been planted before a red flag has been raised.

WVU getting into The Basketball Tournament

May 26, 2015 by Mike Casazza

Certainly you remember The Basketball Tournament, a clever concept that got started last year and just seemed destined to stick. How many times do we see a college team come together to make a run and then lose a piece or multiple pieces and never look the same as it did during that one week or one month when it captured our imagination? How often does a team miss its window because of an injury, graduation, a coaching change or the NBA? How frequently do we wish we could see our favorite teams or players come together one more time?

TBT is the stage for those previously unthinkable roundball reunions, and it’s back again this year with more hype, more credibility and a prize twice as large.

The field is immense this year. Personally, I’m most excited that Florida Gulf Coast is represented, because I couldn’t get enough of its act in 2013 and I was so sad to see it go. Dunk City is actually only a part of one team, having joined up with similarly inspiring Mercer, which of course Nae Nae’d Duke in 2014. Together they’re called the Bracket Busters, and they should be safely included in the field.

FGCU boasts Parkersburg’s Chase Fieler. More West Virginia connections? Absolutely. Dalton Pepper is on a Temple alumni team that needs votes to get into the top 18 in it region. Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones are on a roster with former New York City stars.

Friday Feedback

May 22, 2015 by Mike Casazza

Hey, we’re all the way back, no? Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which wants to tip a glass to West Virginia baseball today. True, nothing has really happened. The program hasn’t been to a NCAA regional in 18 years and didn’t get too close this year. The 2015 season ended with a whimper, a two-game stumble through the Big 12 tournament it rallied to qualify for and two losses that saw a combined one run. WVU was 21-12 after sweeping a three-game series against Butler that opened Monongalia County Ballpark, but went 6-15 from that point forward and finished 27-27.

But baseball has changed here, and you can’t argue against that. People, be they patrons, players, coaches, opponents, administrators or recruits, take the thing more seriously now. Attendance is up. The new stadium is a major chip that, in time, will generate appreciable results. The best is still ahead for the program, one that had just four seniors on the roster and two all-freshman team picks.

Whatever. Here’s where you begin to understand WVU has something going: The manager is mentioned in rumors about jobs at other schools. That never happens here. Of course, you ought not take this too seriously. It started, albeit way, way, way off the radar, earlier this month. I soon found myself talking about it with people, which was more fun than serious. Clemson, as I type, has a manager and isn’t looking for one, and if you sniff around you come to understand Randy Mazey is not a leading candidate. I’m also unsure Mazey would or would want to go anywhere right now. He and his family are invested here, so there’s a weighty anchor. Basically, I just want to underline one point: We’re so far from being in the middle of this story. I mean, so far that it’s not actually a story right now.

But still, that guy’s name is on a list! It doesn’t mean anything, but, come on. A WVU manager is on a list! That’s one way you and we came to know WVU had something with John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez and Nikki Izzo-Brown and even Jill Kramer.

Now, if you are worried, I would try to talk you out of that. Clemson has won eight of 10 to move to 32-26. Thursday’s ACC tournament win against No. 3 Louisville helped the Tigers find footing on the bubble. So it might not open. If it does, it’s a big-time gig that will draw big-time interest, and Mazey, despite a profile he’s elevated here with more than just wins and losses, doesn’t seem to stand on the shelf Clemson might pick from one day. Maybe I’m wrong, but again, we’re not on that stoop right now.

Then again — and here’s the familiar part — the story might not end this year. Clemson’s hall of fame manager is contracted through the 2016 season, and the A.D. won’t extend that deal. He didn’t last season and it wouldn’t make sense for him to do it after this season. When the A.D. did agree to bring the coach back last season, he did so with four conditions, the likes of which I’ve either never seen or never seen disclosed and discussed in a like manner. So the manager doesn’t seem long for life there and a list exists. Who knows what happens, but for a change, people care.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words,

SheikYbuti said:

I suppose whenever Ka’Raun eludes a pursuing defender with his patented Shamrock Shake, he can yell back as he approaches the end zone, “Did you want fries with that?!?”


Av8eer said:

I heard he Ka’raun past defenders like they’re in quicksand

Also yes.

I love you, Doug! said:

I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still/
Ka’raun-raun-raun-raun Ka’raun-ran-ran

Still yes.

Clarence Oveur said:

Yeah, my heart stood still

Yeah, leave off that dill

Aaaaaand when he ran a post/
Ka’raun-raun-raun-raun, Ka’raun-raun-raun

More yes.

Mr Burns said:

To date, Mr White has zero catches for zero yards. Let’s go slow here.

Released the hounds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Las Vegas mellows the mood

May 21, 2015 by Mike Casazza

Take a guess who Brovada likes as the favorite to win the 2015 national title. My hint to you is WVU is familiar with this team.

Read the rest of this entry »