The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 7, 2008

COLUMN: Tranghese won’t forget Georgia night

MORGANTOWN — He was, by his own admission, an unlikely candidate for greatness.

“A little Italian kid from Springfield, Mass.,” is the term he used to describe himself.

He was too small to make the team, so he became the trainer.

A humble beginning for Mike Tranghese, who now says his future brought him to the point where “I walked with kings.”

He talks not of Louis XIV, Henry VIII or Kong, all great in their own way.

No, he talks of Louie Carnesecca and John Thompson and Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun, kings in the sport of college basketball.

But there was no king present that night in Atlanta when he walked home from the Georgia Dome, his greatest moment now complete and requiring lonely contemplation.

What better time to recall that contemplation for a man who was the first hire of the Big East Conference and its second commissioner on the day he announced that he would be leaving the job on June 30, 2009.

West Virginia had just completed the resurrection of his football league, defeating Georgia of the Southeastern Conference in the Sugar Bowl, giving his conference that had been savaged and left for dead by the Atlantic Coast Conference, who snuck off in the night with its three top football members — Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

You ask him his greatest achievement and it comes back to the way he handled that crisis, coming at the time when he first was considering retiring.

“I’d been thinking about it,” Tranghese admitted. “I thought about leaving four or five years ago. That’s when we went through losing schools, but I wasn’t about to leave at that point. I wanted to leave when I felt the conference was in good shape.”

He wasn’t the only one thinking of leaving. The remaining schools like West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh were facing unsure futures.

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Bob Herzel
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