The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

August 26, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN - College football out of balance

MORGANTOWN — This week, reason cropped up to recall one of the better moments in West Virginia University basketball history. The scene was Washington, D.C., two years ago and the Mountaineers had just done in a Duke basketball team that fielded eight McDonald’s All-Americans and had done so without a McDonald’s All-American of their own.

As a reporter was leaving, forward Cam Thoroughman, who had just wiped the floor with those All-Americans, asked if the Blue Devils’ point guard Greg Paulus was one of those eight.

When assured that he was, Thoroughman uttered one of those statements that will live in basketball lore forever:

“Oh, my God. Are you kidding?”

We are reminded of those words today now that this very same Greg Paulus has been named the starting quarterback at Syracuse University one week into training camp.

True, Paulus had been a Parade All-American in high school right there in Syracuse, but Thoroughman and company showed just how important that is that March day in the nation’s capital. Since then, Paulus had not played a minute of football, not even at Duke, where they can’t afford to let any kind of All-American slip through the cracks.

Perhaps Paulus will shake off the rust and prove himself to be the quarterback many believed he could have been coming out of high school.

Then again he might have won the job simply to sell some of those empty seats in the Carrier Dome, people curious to see whether this one-time basketball star can follow in the proud tradition of Donovan McNabb, Don McPherson and Marvin Graves.

The decline and fall of Syracuse football has been almost symbolic of the loss of prestige and respect for the Big East Conference, a league whose football honor really has been carried only by West Virginia University in recent years.

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Bob Herzel
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