The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

May 14, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Transferring is a two-way street for WVU

MORGANTOWN — There has been much loud and angry criticism over the past few weeks surrounding the West Virginia University basketball program and its inability to hold onto the players it recruits, enough so that coach Bob Huggins felt it necessary to address the situation with the media in a hastily called Saturday morning press conference.

The shadow of the unexpected transfers of Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, a pair of high-profile guards who had been major contributors to the Mountaineers for two years and figured to be starters and leaders this season, lay heavily over the room as Huggins sat down and began to speak.

“First of all,” he said, “I transferred.”

And indeed he had.

Huggins, who was born in Morgantown, started his collegiate basketball career at Ohio University but after a season decided to come to West Virginia.

“I transferred because there was a guy in the same class ahead of me. I wanted to go where more playing time was available, and it turned out all right for me,” he said.

That, perhaps, is why Huggins has never stood in the way of any of his players transferring or put any restrictions on which schools they went to.

Too often, you see, we forget just who these college sports are for, looking at them through a fan’s eyes.

The idea of college is to benefit the student — or in this case, the student-athlete — who can have any of a thousand reasons for transferring, from, as Huggins said, “returning closer to home or getting farther away from it” to seeking more playing time, be with a girlfriend, find easier or more challenging school work or simply because he doesn’t like the coach or his system.

A scholarship is a one-year deal (the NCAA recently approved four-year scholarships but does not give many out) that must be renewed each year, but it does not allow a student-athlete to simply get up and transfer at the end of that year.

For example, just Tuesday former Kansas State quarterback Doug Sams announced he was transferring and was given a limited release by the Wildcats that allows Sams to contact Football Championship Subdivision schools with the exception of Stephen F. Austin, which plays Kansas State this season. It does not allow the former starting quarterback to transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision school.

With all the recent whining of what has happened over the past few years at WVU, it must be recalled that this transfer game is neither anything new nor a one-way street.

That door opens both ways, and rest assured that over the years West Virginia has benefited as much from accepting transfers as it has been hurt by their departure.

Doesn’t matter what sport we’re talking about, either.

You can go back to the 1930s and football star Joe Stydahar, the first WVU player ever taken in the NFL draft, was a transfer from, of all places, Pitt. In the 1950s, the football team had Bob Orders, a Charleston native, transfer in from Army to become an All-American, and Joe Marconi, a fullback who became a first-round draft pick and Pro Bowl player, transferred from Maryland.

Quarterback Jeff Hostetler’s career began at Penn State, where he started three games before Todd Blackledge beat him out for the job. He transferred to WVU, sat out a year while Oliver Luck played — wouldn’t that have been an interesting quarterback battle — then came on to stun No. 9 Oklahoma in his first start, throwing for four touchdowns and 321 yards.

Things haven’t changed much since then, Clint Trickett having transferred from Florida State after earning his degree and winning his first start last year against No. 11 Oklahoma State, 30-21, while passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns before injuring his shoulder.

In fact, there have been a lot of quarterback transfers that have benefited WVU. In addition to Hostetler and Trickett, Jake “The Snake” Kelchner transferred from Notre Dame and in 1993 shared quarterback duties with Darren Studstill as WVU put together an undefeated regular season.

And basketball has had a number of noteworthy transfers itself, and what better place to start than with this season’s star player, Juwan Staten, who started his career at Dayton before coming to WVU to put himself in position to be the favorite for Big 12 Player of the Year honors this season.

As good a transfer as Staten was Mike Gansey, who was the missing link on Beilein’s great teams in 2005 and 2006, averaging 14.4 points and 5.4 rebounds while dishing out 164 assists. WVU’s teams went 25-11 and 22-11 in those two years and lost NCAA heartbreakers to Louisville in overtime in the Elite Eight and to Texas on a last-second, desperation 3 in the Sweet 16.

Gansey had come from St. Bonaventure and proved to Beilein that he was the complete athlete his team was missing, a free spirit to join the likes of Kevin Pittsnogle, Darris Nichols, Joe Herber, Alex Ruoff, J.D. Collins and Patrick Beilein.

And, a decade earlier, Greg Simpson came over from Ohio State to score 13.2 points a game for WVU’s first team to play in the Big East, scoring 28 in a two-point loss to No. 7 Villanova and 23 in a road upset of No. 20 Boston College.

Just the fact that players have transferred is not unsettling, for it happens a lot in this era, but what is unsettling is that the transfers are catching the coaching staff by surprise, which indicates a relationship problem.

Now Huggins is going to be Huggins, make no doubt about that, and 739 victories give you the idea that he knows what he’s doing, but it appears that he may need to bring some youth onto his coaching staff to develop relationships as confidantes with his players, people who can maybe smooth over bruised feelings when Huggins is through “correcting” them for mistakes they have made.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads