| By Tony Caridi for MSNsportsNET.com|
December 21, 2005
(The Mountaineer Sports Network recently received an email that was surprising to say the least. The loveable, large elf himself Santa Claus informed us that he’s had a love affair with WVU athletics for years. Earlier this week, Santa agreed to sit down with MSN’s Tony Caridi for a rather revealing question and answer session. As part of the agreement to conduct this exclusive interview, MSN agreed not to photograph Mr. Claus.)
Tony: So exactly when did the love affair with the Mountaineers begin?
Santa: Well, I’ve always liked West Virginia and I mean always. But, I fell in love with the Mountaineers during their 1942 run for the NIT Championship. They brought a new definition to the word teamwork. And, as you might imagine, I’m all about teamwork. If one elf decides to do his own thing then we’ve got major production problems.
Tony: I can certainly understand that. Who’s been your favorite Mountaineer?
Santa: You probably won’t be surprised to know that I tend to like the “rounder” athletes. Wes Ours was my kind of guy. What a play he made in that Music City bowl ... ran down the sideline on that screen pass like Rudolph on a take off.
Tony: Do you give gifts to referees?
Santa: Rarely. However, I do plan to slip a little something special to the crew that worked the Louisville football game earlier this season.
Tony: I know your work takes you across the world. What’s your thought on how the quality of international basketball has improved?
Santa: It’s not surprise at all. Per capita, I’ve been delivering more basketballs and sneakers to Europe than any other place. It's been like that for years now. I remember dropping off the very first pair of Air Jordans to Joe Herber’s house when he was just a tyke. That Johannes -- his letters were always well-written, with perfect grammar, and were always so neat. I have always been impressed with his penmanship. I wish more kids today could write as neatly as Joe. It's getting harder and harder to read (the letters).
Tony: With the exception of Louisville, what’s been your favorite Mountaineer football game this season?
Santa: No question it was the Pitt win. The Mrs. and I still get a kick over Dave Wannstedt’s halftime comment that his team just had to run faster in the second half (laughter). Plus, I loved the temperature. It really made me feel at home.
Tony: You were at the Pitt game?
Santa: Yeah, I was just four rows up from the clowns that took their shirts off. I was wearing my camouflaged Mountaineer pants and matching jacket.
Tony: So how did you hear Wannstedt’s comment about running faster?
Tony: You've got TiVo?
Santa: You bet. I'm going to miss Desperate Housewives Sunday night because I won't get home until real late with production meetings, debriefings, etc. Did you know that Lynnette is thrilled that her company is going to provide daycare. She's just got to convince Ed, her boss, to include his baby Mindy so they can meet the quota. The problem is that Ed's wife Fran wants no part of that. Supposedly Lynette is going to work on Ed and try and convince him that he needs more quality time with his daughter. It could go either way so we'll see. But I'm regressing. What else do you have on your mind, Tony?
Tony: How long does it take to recover from the big day?
Santa: About a month. The family has a little time share down in Boca Raton. I normally spend January there and then I go up to Hilton Head for a week in February around football signing day. We usually have a big get-together for that. Then it’s back to work preparing for next year.
Tony: Sounds like a plan.
Santa then interrupted Tony to ask a couple of questions.
Santa: Let me ask you something, Tony.
Tony: What’s that?
Santa: How good are these verbals so far in football and what about the basketball recruits we signed? It's really hard to get good, solid info on some of these guys up in the North Pole.
Tony: Well, provided you stop delivering their jerseys before they step on campus, and their parents stop thinking their kids are the next first-round picks in the NFL or NBA, they should be fine.
Santa: Yeah, I’m with you on that one ... more and more it’s the parents and not the kids that are the problem.
Tony: I have one last thing for you, Santa. Do you really deny gifts to kids that have been naughty?
Santa: Well, Tony ... I'll answer your question this way: is Marcus Vick going to a BCS game this year?
Tony: That's good enough for me, Santa. Thanks so much for spending some time with me and have a great flight on Saturday night.
Thursday, December 22, 2005