Somewhere the sun is shining.
Somewhere, Sunday morning arrived with a laugh and a smile.
This, you se,e is a football city, a place where the games people play spill out from the confines of the palaces built in which they play them.
And on a Saturday evening in the month of November, at a time when things finally seemed to be going West Virginia University’s way after a season of discontent, everything came undone.
Just when it seemed as if the Mountaineers, everyone’s heroes, had pulled off another stunner, just as they had a week earlier against TCU and a month earlier against Oklahoma State as three-touchdown underdogs, the Earth split open and swallowed them alive.
This was against Texas, one of college football’s legendary universities, home to Vince Young and Earl Campbell and so many others. It was a place where the Heisman Trophy and the national championship trophy has resided, unlike West Virginia.
Now Texas was trying to do it again, this time the hard way, losing two of its first three games this year before racing through the Big 12 schedule, trying to save its coach, Mack Brown’s, job, winning week after week after week.
But the Mountaineers led in a game that had turned from disaster to delight.
It was the fourth quarter.
All WVU needed was one more stop and the game was theirs, a bowl trip almost guaranteed, even Dana Holgorsen’s job virtually assured.
All they had to do was play some defense …
And that’s when the sun faded, the clouds gathered and the season could be felt slipping away.
Until then they had been if nothing else courageous.
The starting quarterback, Clint Trickett, had been torn limb from limb by Texas’ savage pass rush.
How bad was it? He had been sacked five times while able to get off only four passes.
“He got his bell rung,” Holgorsen said. “He was knocked out there for a bit. He was back on the sidelines a little bit later, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
If he is, he will be feeling better than most of the WVU faithful, who are not used to what’s transpired the last couple of seasons.
This is a football city, a city where Major Harris did his thing and Pat White did, too.
It has been a city where winning football is played, not .500 football.
Now WVU stands 4-6, 2-5 in that Big 12 Conference it was forced into joining, and that hurts, even worse when it wakes up on this same morning to find Marshall down south at 6-3.
It isn’t supposed to be that way, not today, not any day.
Since a 5-0 start last season that had people talking about national championships and wound up something less than a Pinstripe Bowl championship, WVU is 6-12. That’s one win every three games, and that’s absolutely unacceptable.
Losing is one thing, but losing the way WVU has is something else.
In this one the Mountaineers were down by that one touchdown in overtime.
They came out and ran a wonderful play, a reverse to the fleet Mario Alford that went for 20 yards.
Now it was first and goal with just 5 yards needed to tie the game and force a second overtime.
Five yards, 15 feet.
WVU gained one yard in four plays and it was over.
Sadly, softly over, done with an interception on a pass that had no chance.
The shame was there were people who deserved so much more.
Charles Sims had fought the good fight at running back, scoring three touchdowns, carrying 24 times for 93 yards, even laying the key block on Dreamius Smith’s 8-yard touchdown run.
Then there was Millard, who was courageous against the savage rush, and Alford, who not only had the 20-yard overtime run but a 72-yard touchdown reception in which he turned on the jets to run away from a Texas corner.
But there were too many others who couldn’t get it done, blocking for the quarterbacks, snapping them the ball.
In the end it was just another loss, something that has become far too common in this football city.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
Somewhere the sun is shining.
University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins
The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.
Huggins signs junior college guard
Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0
Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.
FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors
Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
• A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.
COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes
Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball
It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap
Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete
The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
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- University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins