I’m out the door here soon to trek to Manhattan for tomorrow night’s Gotham Classic doubleheader. WVU v. North Carolina State follows Richmond v. Pepperdine, so figure we’ll tip a bit after 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2. This is WVU’s first game at Madison Square Garden since a bad loss to UConn in the 2012 Big East Tournament, but this is the first of a few maneuvers for the Mountaineers to firm up their footing in the metropolitan New York City area.
“I’ll drop them off and say, ‘Be back by this time,’ ” he said. “I’m not going to walk around with them. You try and tell them, ‘Don’t buy any watches,’ and the first thing they do is run and buy watches. That’s part of the experience and guys talk about it when they’re 50 years old. They say, ‘I thought I was buying Gucci, but when I looked at it, it said “ucci” and there was no “G,” but it was only $30.’
“Yeah, but if you walked around the corner, it was only $15.”
So yesterday happened, and the E! True Hollywood Story about why and how I got pulled out of vacation to report the Oliver Luck exit and the Shannon Dawson departure — oh, that also went down last night, right about the time I finally sat down to eat … breakfast — is an all-timer that I’m certain you won’t believe. That said, I’m happy it happened — not that way, of course, but overall. I was really worried I’d have to come back and write about this verbal sparring between Bob Huggins and Dan D’Antoni.
I wrote this last season and it wasn’t popular: WVU would be happy if the series went away. Getting the Classic out of the middle of conference play was Part I. With the Marshall game now coming in December, WVU can schedule its one non-conference opponent during conference play and use that game to get on TV (which didn’t happen this season because this schedule … never mind). Marshall just isn’t getting WVU televised. At minimum, WVU would prefer another RPI-boosting home game it’s made an art of scheduling in the past.
The Classic outside the legislative session draws thinner crowds, and that’s one more bullet for WVU to fire at the game’s legitimacy, especially when so much of the revenue is based on the gate. This back-and-forth now is just another reason for WVU to do away with it, and Huggins explained his reasoning quite succinctly.
But turn down the volume and understand this: WVU doesn’t have to play this game. Literally doesn’t have to. I’m not talking about some righteous stance. I’m talking about a contractual obligation.
I’ve always loved that picture. It’s quintessential Oliver Luck. It has a little bit of everything that comprises West Virginia’s athletic director. Philanthropy, soccer, availability, competition, determination and probably even success. I’ve no doubt he was doing step-overs and Rabonas in this event.
We’re at the ground level with this story. Caught me completely off guard. I’m scrambling, so let me get my breath a bit and I’ll get back here later when I return some calls and some people return mine. I haven’t heard a timetable for his exit, but most seem to believe it’ll coincide with the New Year and WVU will hope to have someone in place by July 1. An interim will fall into place in the meantime. Right now, that means nothing, but it’s an answer to a question I’m certain you have. Names? Again, it means what it means right now, but the list begins and ends with Rob Mullens. There are others, as there were in the past, but I’ve got to vet some of those before I put them in print.
Kevin White is up for the Biletnikoff Award and Josh Lambert for the Groza Award at tonight’s college football awards show. It’s in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., which is to say Disney World, and that explains White’s gloves for this otherwise poignant conversation with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. (h/t @duckfootball)
Seasons greetings. I’m out for the next several days for the first of my two remaining breaks before the end of the year. It’ll go by quickly, I promise. You can insert that Thing here about what happens when I go away, but understand this is a time when news is bound to happen.
I’ll keep an eye on things here, and the bat signal is at the ready. For now, though, how about a good old bowl pick ‘em contest? My gift to you. Password: stuff(anything)
Aaaaaand they’re off. Not to be outdone by the Liberty Bowl’s grand reveal Sunday, West Virginia’s head coach and Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator by way of Holgorsen’s tutelage decided to have some fun in advance of the Dec. 29 game.
Big week for White and Lambert, who are both up for major awards Thursday at the college football awards show.
As for the bowl game and the playoff, have at it. I traveled last night and this morning and have been grinding since to get caught up again. I’ve just started getting into the bowl stuff, and I’m smoldering about the playoff. We’ll touch on it all, I’m sure, but I just haven’t done much with either.
Initial impressions: Fun bowl game, and there are parallels between 2012 WVU and 2014 TAMU. I have a lot of problems with the playoff. A lot. (Thought: Florida State, I felt, was rewarded for being the unbeaten defending national champion, which is beyond understandable, if not obtuse for a ranking system in place to find the best teams this season and not the past few seasons. TCU, though, was punished because of last season, when it was 4-8 and lined itself up a 2014 schedule that closed with Iowa State as opposed to a made-for-TV game like Baylor or Oklahoma. What if TCU played Kansas State Saturday and won by the same margin Baylor did? Would that have done it? As it was, the Horned Frogs were curiously penalized three places for beating the hell out of the Cyclones, which is what they were supposed to do.) I’ll let them go soon, but I continue to go back to how stupid it was to have the weekly rankings show.
Yesterday would have been unsullied if it was the first reveal. It’s a shame to all involved that it wasn’t everything it could have been and is instead undone by its own designs that preceded the last reveal.
And now we watch the carnage and what changes it creates.