The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

January 30, 2012

FURFARI COLUMN - City council to honor Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — It seems fitting that Morgantown City Council has decided to honor West Virginia University’s 2011 champion football team.

Mayor Jim Manilla will preside at a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday evening in the council chamber.

Accepting the symbol of recognition on behalf of the Mountaineers will be Morgantown squad members Ryan Nehlen and Tyler Anderson.

Nehlen, a University High graduate, was a junior wide receiver last season, and Anderson, a Morgantown High graduate, a sophomore linebacker.

WVU finished with a 10-3 record, a share of the Big East championship, and a memorable 70-33 victory over Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.

It was only the eighth time in school history that WVU won as many as 10 games in a season.

o o o o o

Have you noticed that intercollegiate athletics continue to go out of control, financially, from coast to coast?

WVU, for example, now is paying its head football and basketball coaches more than $1 million annually — plus incentives.

What’s more, offensive and defensive coordinators are being paid $500,000 or more.

And, as expected, ticket-buyers are feeling the effects. Many longtime, loyal fans no longer can afford to purchase tickets.

I chuckle at times recalling that the late Gentleman Gene Corum, West Virginia’s head coach from 1960-65, was paid a mere $15,000 a year!

And he taught classes in the School of Physical Education in addition to coaching.

o o o o o

Sophomore Christal Caldwell is growing into a steady scoring contributor for the young West Virginia women’s basketball team.

As a result, the 5-foot-9 guard from Charlotte, N.C., is averaging 11.6 points per game — third on the team. Despite her small size, she also is the second leading rebounder with 6.8 per game.

Caldwell, who has started only 14 of WVU’s first 21 games, also has 22 assists and 21 steals.

She performs well on defense, too.

“I’m still learning, but I know I’m a better player than I was when I came here (as a transfer from Florida).”

Caldwell played only 19 games for the Gators and then sat out the 2010-11 year after enrolling here. That is an NCAA requirement for transfers.

She topped all players with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds in WVU’s 64-54 loss to 20th-ranked Georgetown last Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers are 14-6 overall and 5-3 in the Big East.

Caldwell hit double digits just twice in the first 10 games. But she scored 10 or more in 10 of the last 11 contests. She’s averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game against conference opponents.

“Christal is starting to contribute more,” coach Mike Carey acknowledged. “She always plays hard.”

Caldwell said she started playing basketball when she was only 5 or 6 years old.

“I had a first cousin (male) and I learned a lot from him,” she said. “We’d even go against each other on the court.”

She earned numerous honors as a standout player for West Charlotte High School.

Caldwell was named North Carolina Ms. Basketball in 2009-10. She led her school to back-to-back appearances in the state title games, winning WCHS’s first championship in her senior season.

She made The Associated Press all-state team twice and was the leading vote-getter. She averaged 17.1 points and 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior.

“I feel I’m playing better, and I love it here,” Caldwell said. “But I’m trying to get even better, and I love my teammates.

“I’m trying to work on my shooting, and also free throws. And I try to be in the right place and at the right time when it comes to getting rebounds,” she said.

Finally, she said she likes everything about WVU.

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