It’s something Fairmont State University athletic director Rusty Elliott believes new head football coach Jason Woodman has in spades.
“This guy has a lot of energy and knowledge and he is going to get this thing rolling in the right direction and I assure you no one is going to outwork him,” he said after Woodman was introduced as the 18th coach in FSU history last Saturday.
And that enthusiasm is what the Falcons will need from the first-time head coach as they ready for a dive into unchartered waters. Starting in the 2013-14 season, FSU will compete in the newly formed Mountain East Conference, along with eight other West Virginia Conference schools.
To compete in the new league — a 12-team group that includes such football powers as Shepherd — the Falcons will need Woodman to hit the ground running.
Not to mention ...
• Hit recruiting hard — FSU couldn’t afford to fall behind here and drag along the hiring process. That fact was likely one of the many reasons it pulled the trigger on Woodman so quickly, less than two weeks after former coach Mike Lopez was released from his contract. Woodman said Saturday he had already begun the recruiting process, though it remains to be seen which direction he’ll go — heavy on in-state players or elsewhere or try to find a balance between the two. The Falcons had 37 West Virginia players on last season’s roster.
• Hit the streets — Since the day he was hired, FSU head men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun has talked about putting a face on his program, and getting players and coaches out amongst the public. Whether it’s passing out schedules at area businesses or attending local events, the Falcons have made a concerted effort to put themselves out there. The result has been a team talked about around town and generally good early-season crowds, which you’d think would continue to grow after a huge win at Charleston and the meat of the WVIAC schedule still on the docket after New Year’s.
And maybe that’s what FSU football needs more than anything — some sizzle, a jolt of excitement, a bit of buzz.
The Falcons certainly have their share of exciting players (Daniel Monroe) and hometown heroes (Trevor Malnick, among others). They have quality facilties for the most part, too, including a new high-definition scoreboard and a revamped locker room.
But something is missing.
There has to be, right? How else do you describe a 2012 home attendance that averaged fewer than 1,200 fans per game and mustered a season-high 1,359 for homecoming?
Sure, other factors were at play here. Due to the construction of the scoreboard, FSU opened last season with three straight road games and only played at Duvall-Rosier Field four times. Some game times clashed with West Virginia University. And, let’s face it, WVIAC football doesn’t exactly bring in huge crowds even in the most ideal of circumstances.
But a few more victories would help matters, as Lopez had two winning seasons during his tenure. In fact, the last time FSU made a legitimate run for a league title was more than a decade ago in 2001.
At the same time, Fairmont — and Marion County as a whole — is passionate about its sports. If someone or something is worth seeing, you’ll make the effort to seek them out. In my time here, that’s rarely been the case with FSU football ... many folks simply just don’t care.
Can Woodman change things?
Well, he has ties to the area, being a county native, a graduate of North Marion High School and a Fairmont State alum. That’s a plus.
As is the resume, which includes setting new school records as offensive coordinator at Bowie State, his most recent gig before taking the FSU job. He’s also had stops at Florida State and LSU and drew recent praise from Tigers’ coach Les Miles. That’s a big plus, too.
Add it all up, and you have an intriguing, energetic new football coach, one who seems up to the challenge that awaits him. That’s more than enough for now.
Email Nick Cammuso at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @NickCammusoTWV.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
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.
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