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Friday, January 06, 2006

Campus Connection

Campus Connection
By John Antonik for
January 6, 2006

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. -- How would you like to be Pitt’s Dave Wannstedt right now. To the West he’s looking at Fiesta Bowl champion Ohio State. To his immediate East he’s staring at Orange Bowl champion Penn State. And of course to his South he’s got to contend with Sugar Bowl champion West Virginia.

We Kennedy assassination buffs would refer to that as a recruiting triangulation of fire.

Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what Frank Cignetti had to deal with at West Virginia in the late 1970s when things at Pitt, Ohio State and Penn State were going so well.


  • What does it say for college football in our region having three of the four BCS champions coming from roughly a 250-mile radius? Maybe football in these parts isn’t all that bad after all.


  • Be sure to check out’s Top 100 moments of the bowl season. West Virginia is peppered throughout. Running back Steve Slaton’s MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl came in at No. 5.
  • I know this is probably stretching things a little bit, but I do see some similarities between Steve Slaton’s and Tony Dorsett’s running styles. Like Dorsett, Slaton isn’t that big, he’s patient hitting his holes, and he has home-run speed. Both also made big freshman debuts.

    It will be interesting to see how much better Slaton becomes during his WVU career.

  • Despite spending the first four games watching from the sidelines, Slaton came on to finish 14th in the nation in rushing with an average of 112.8 yards per game. The true freshman was third in the nation in scoring with an average of 11.4 points per game.
  • The notion is already being thrown out there: is this the best football team in school history? That is a really tough call. It probably comes down to the 1988 and the 2005 teams with 1993 and 1969 on the outside looking in – in my humble view.

    If you were to evaluate the 1988 and 2005 teams, I’d say the major differences are the overall depth and experience of the 1988 team compared to the great athleticism and speed of the 2005 squad. For argument’s sake let’s cancel out quarterbacks Major Harris and Pat White, safeties Bo Orlando and Mike Lorello, linebackers Jay Henry and Chris Haering, the secondary, and special teams.

    The real difference comes at wide receiver, outside linebacker and defensive tackle where the 1988 team had Reggie Rembert, Renaldo Turnbull and Mike Fox. Of course, the 2005 team has a big advantage at tailback with Slaton. And as good as 1988’s offensive line was it would be hard to pick that group over this year’s unit that features a pair of All-Americans in Dan Mozes and Garin Justice.

    If the two teams were to play I’d say it would be a 41-41 tie with the game being called in the 10th overtime due to darkness.


  • Rich Rodriguez is putting together some pretty impressive streaks since 2002. His teams are 36-14 overall (.720) during that stretch including having a 23-4 record in Big East play. The Mountaineers are 28-0 when Rodriguez’s teams score 30 points or more. His teams have scored at least 20 points in 36 of their last 50 games including scoring 30 or more in half of them (25).

    And his West Virginia teams have scored 40 points or more 14 times since 2002.

  • Some very early predictions have West Virginia anywhere from No. 3 to No. 6 to start the 2006 campaign. ESPN analysts Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit both pick West Virginia fifth.
  • It’s ironic that two of West Virginia’s biggest bowl victories have come at the expense of SEC teams. The Mountaineers were heavy underdogs when they beat Florida in the 1981 Peach Bowl, and were a seven-point underdog when they knocked off Georgia last Monday in the Sugar Bowl.

    It’s also ironic that Rich Rodriguez was involved in both of them.

  • Four of West Virginia’s 10 bowl victories have come against teams from the Southeastern Conference (Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia). A fifth win against current SEC member South Carolina in the 1969 Peach Bowl came when the Gamecocks were still members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • West Virginia will probably get a small lift in recruiting this year following its Sugar Bowl win. The real impact will be next year when Rich Rodriguez and his staff have a whole year to flash around their big, shiny Sugar Bowl champion rings.

    My guess is all of that Continental Tire and Gator Bowl gear has already been tossed deep into the closet by now.


  • With his 10-yard run against Georgia, Phil Brady is now the top rushing punter in school history with an average of 10.0-yard per carry. Actually, he had a carry last year against Pitt for five yards pulling his average down to 7.5 yards per rush.
  • People always talk about Rich Rodriguez being an innovative offensive coach. Well, sometimes they don’t truly understand how innovative he’s become. What other coach in the country would give his punter two carries in the last two years, have an offensive guard catch a pass and have a quarterback complete a pass to himself?

    Now that’s innovation!

  • Here are answers to two of the most frequent emails I’ve been getting: 1.) Will there be ceremony to honor the Sugar Bowl team? Yes, there is something being planned to honor the football team although the details have yet to be worked out. 2.) Will MSN produce a DVD of the Sugar Bowl game against Georgia? No, there will not be DVD produced by MSN of the 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl because ABC owns the television rights to the game. ABC is producing a DVD of the game for sale with more details on that to come as well.
  • Due to a conflict with Fox Sports' NFL playoff schedule, West Virginia's basketball game against Marquette on Saturday, Jan. 14, will air on WDTV in Clarksburg instead of WVFX.
  • It is my understanding that the Sugar Bowl champion t-shirts being sold at are going at a rapid pace. To order your t-shirt simply click on the "Gear Up" link to the left or log onto
  • For those of you who got the “we’re-number-one” salute from Virginia Tech’s Marcus Vick at Milan Puskar Stadium earlier this year, it really comes as no surprise that Vick would stomp on Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil’s calf during the Gator Bowl.

    Remember, this is the same guy that gave WVU assistant coach Tony Gibson an elbow to the back of the head while running back out onto the field.

    Some Mountaineer fans are upset that his actions in Morgantown have been forgotten among all of his transgressions. But keep this in mind: when you’ve got a rap sheet as long as Vick’s it’s really hard to remember them all.

    As of Friday morning, the Washington Post reported that Vick will be suspended for at least the team’s season opener if he chooses to return to school, according to Virginia Tech sources. So who is Virginia Tech’s 2006 season-opening opponent?

    Kent State.

    And now you know the rest of the story.

    Note: The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of West Virginia University or the Mountaineer Sports Network.

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