Welcome to the (260th) Friday Feedback on the eve of what might be the least-anticipated spring game I’ve encountered since spring games became Things around here. Funny thing is, the one I would compare it to is last year’s. Maybe we have a trend.
I’m not going to grandstand for a few reasons, chief among them being I don’t think it’ll ever draw an enormous crowd here and I sort of think WVU is OK with this development. You’ll get a couple thousand people every year, maybe 10 grand when the conditions are optimal, but that’s a ceiling. WVU isn’t as concerned about a ceiling as much as working under proper conditions. Spring is about different things here — developing and discovering, learning and remembering, so on and so forth — and it’s never going to be the same. That’s perplexing and sometimes problematic, but coaching isn’t static. That’s why coaches seek control and try to manufacture consistency and repetition in so many things they do.
Here’s a question: How important is spring practice to coaches?
Let’s set aside tomorrow’s Gold-Blue Game, which WVU treats like a regular game when it comes to interviews. We get to talk to Dana Holgorsen four times: Before the first, sixth, ninth and 12th practices, each of which is open. You get to watch that practice and then wait a week to ask him about it, so you’re not really there to report on the practice.
You get to talk to assistants and players after the sixth, ninth and 12th practices, but the players have to have played in a game and have to be cleared by Holgorsen, who approves and nixes requests on his own, so you’re not necessarily there to write about who or what you saw at practice. (#FreeKhairi)
Full disclosure: I think you’re crazy to write about practice. Developments? Sure. Action. Why? Goose an gander, I suppose.
(Aside: This is ordinary at WVU. It’s not a deviation, and I’m not airing any laundry. These are the conditions — the same as or better than you’d find in some places, worse than you’d find in others — and you work around them, even if it means less work. I’m just explaining things to make a point and answer the aforementioned question.)
So to circle back, what happens in practice is important to the coaches, but how it’s digested and dispersed outside of practice is not that important. And maybe that’s an issue. People like to ask me how practice is going. I have no idea. I do know that Holgorsen is happy with where he’s at and Tony Gibson would like to be healthier and, as a result, further ahead than he is right now. Beyond that, who knows? They know, which, in the end, is all that matters.
This might be a non sequitur, or it might be the point altogether. Again, I don’t know. But I got back in town Monday night, lost power to a thunderstorm and went out to eat. I was talking to someone — not Someone, but a renowned fan — and he asked me if I was covering football. (!) I came to see his point: I hadn’t written much. Some of that is my vacation schedule and some of that is not, but what he came to explain was he wasn’t reading a lot about football anywhere during spring football, and that concerned him because he worried about the bridge that can connect the team, media and fans.
That got my attention because, you know, my job.
That makes the spring game interesting. Who or what are you buying a ticket to go see? A lot of people will just go to the game. That’s their nature. But it’s also the nature of others to be drawn out to the game, and I suppose it’s fair to wonder if there is a draw and who or what it is. But I also think it’s fair to mention that draw is somewhat insignificant, too.
I think a lot of coaches would just rather have their 15th practice be their 15th practice and not a goofy scrimmage after the 14th practice. Just this year, for example, WVU has so many people hurt or hurting that you’ll have a number of Who’s That scrimmaging tomorrow when they might be better off just practicing. WVU does enough scrimmaging in practices that tomorrow isn’t some sort of grand reveal, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is or was the purpose of the spring game concept. Under whatever circumstances, there comes a point where risk and reward meet and you wonder what’s the cost of compromising a critical practice for the amusement of a few thousand fans … especially when you’ve opened three practices/scrimmages for a few thousand fans already.
This is not to say WVU had some ingenious plan to do away with the spring game by opening a few practices and traveling to far corners of the state. But WVU has, in a way, brought the spring game to Charleston and Wheeling, to Shepherdstown and White Sulpher Springs. Those folks don’t have to and likely won’t come to the spring game, and they might not in ordinary years anyhow, but it dents the crowd a little.
True, it’s neat to simulate the road trip experience and introduce kids to that situation before the regular season and to see how they react, but I think it’s more than that.
Does that mean WVU turns its 15th practice into the one that’s open in Morgantown, or the spring game might be in Bluefield or Parkersburg, or perhaps the practice that’s open in Morgantown is No. 12 and followed by three closed practices? Possibly. There are no rules here and the payoff, the sort of crowd that normally isn’t markedly bigger than the ones in other cities, isn’t so great that it can’t be manipulated.
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, clean up after yourself.
2016: Youngstown State, BYU, Missouri
2017: ECU, VaTech, TBA
2018: NC State, Tennessee, TBA
2019: NC State, Missouri, TBA
2020: ECU, Maryland, TBA
2021: Maryland, VaTech, TBA
2022: VaTech, TBA, TBA
2023: Penn State, TBA, TBA
2024: Penn State, TBA, TBA
Why could we not add Pitt as early as 2017? With ECU on that year, it looks like we need another P5 school.
I don’t think we’d add them for 18, 19 or 21 because we have two P5 OCC already scheduled for those years.
I thought about 2017. It has to be a home game, because the VT game is at FedEx, and Pitt has room for a road game. But I’ve heard WVU is open to a FCS school that year, too, to fill the home schedule at a cozy cost. Also: Pitt opens at home against Youngstown State, plays at Penn State and plays host to Oklahoma State the first three weeks. Where are the Panthers putting WVU, and why?
Add WVU to the ACC.
Add Missouri, Nebreska, and Texas A&M back to Big 12.
Add Notre Dumb to the Big 10.
Fixes college football rivilaries.