By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University’s earth-shattering 70-33 victory over favored Clemson was witnessed by football TV viewers from coast to coast.
But the fact that the Mountaineers won another Lambert Trophy in the process hasn’t become as well known. That is symbolic of NCAA Division I supremacy in the East.
It is the fourth time that West Virginia has won that award, which is sponsored by the ECAC and the Meadowlands.
The Mountaineers finished the 2011 season with a 10-3 record and final national rankings of 17th by The Associated Press and 18th by USA Today/ESPN.
In case you’re interested, Cincinnati finished runner-up to WVU in the final balloting for the Lambert Trophy. Rutgers was third, Penn State fourth and Louisville fifth.
The bottom five included in order Temple, Pittsburgh, Navy, Connecticut and Syracuse.
West Virginia and Lambert Trophy winners in football’s lower divisions will be honored by the ECAC at a dinner on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Dana Holgorsen, a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) winner in his first season as head coach, is expected to represent West Virginia along with others at that function.
It would be fitting also if the players chosen as team captains for this past season could be there.
WVU also won the Lambert Trophy in 1988, 1993 and 2007.
Don Nehlen, the Hall of Famer, gave the university its only undefeated and untied teams in ’88 and ’93. Both were 11-0 for regular-season competition.
The first finished with the best-ever final rankings of No. 5 in both major national rankings. And it lost to Notre Dame by 34-21 in a Fiesta Bowl showdown for the national title.
The 1993 team won the school’s first Big East championship (7-0 conference record). That team finished sixth and seventh nationally.
Rich Rodriguez coached the 2007 team that posted an 11-2 record, won the conference championship, and wound up sixth in both poles.
A 13-9 loss to Pitt in the final game knocked WVU out of a shot at the national championship. With Bill Stewart as interim head coach, however it kayoed Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2, 2008.