The first is in Lawrence, Kan., in a meaningless football game on a Saturday afternoon, so little at stake that it was put on at 11 a.m. without a major national network paying it any attention.
Yet, there it was, as the final gun went off there was utter jubilation, the crowd, as it was, rushing the field, the goal posts being torn down, then carried from the stadium.
It was as if Dorothy and Toto had returned to Kansas.
The Jayhawks had finally won a Big 12 Conference game.
That’s how it was in the Midwest, but what of the Far West?
As newspaper publisher Horace Greeley popularized, we now “Go West, young man, go West!”
We find ourselves in Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, where Southern California has just kicked a game-winning field goal to stun unbeaten No. 4 Stanford.
While this game had far greater national implications, the scene was quite similar as fans rushed the field overcome with so much glee and/or alcohol that as many as 10 of them had to be taken to local hospitals for treatment of injuries as serious as a broken leg.
Two scenes we have concentrated on, but we beg to bring in another, for this one was also of national importance, being played in Auburn, Ala., between longtime, bitter rivals Georgia and Auburn, the game down to a fourth and 18 play for a trailing Auburn.
Unleashed was an impossible pass — a prayer, if this fits your beliefs — one that seemed ready to settle into the hands of either of two Georgia defenders who had the play smothered, only to bounce lazily in the air behind them where receiver Ricardo Louis could catch it in full stride and romp into the end zone with the winning touchdown.
Again, the crowd was sent into a frenzy.
“I looked around (the stands) before the play and it looked like everybody was sad, heads down,” Louis said. “And it kind of hurt me, because we wanted to keep what we’ve been having going on.”
What Auburn had going on was a season that now stands at 10-1 coming out of nowhere, as miraculous as the play itself.
By now you must be wondering why we bring up these scenes at this moment, and, be assured, there is a good reason.
College football, you see, is as special a sporting event as there is anywhere, except maybe the pure insanity that surrounds World Cup soccer.
It is important to remember this today, for it is difficult to understand the joy of the game the way things have gone here lately.
It is, perhaps, a hangover from the devastating loss to arch-rival Pitt when standing on the verge of a first national championship, a day that lives in West Virginia infamy, for it was not only a football loss but a loss of a football coach.
It has not been the same since, although there were winning games and winning moments, but for the most part we have found ourselves in the quiet of the losing locker room over the last year and a half, our pregame celebrations for more gala than the way we have had to drink away our sorrows in the shadow of defeat.
The aura of college football is being worn away by the sheer commercialism of the collegiate sports scene, watching wretched infighting within the administration and runaway contracts for coaches and athletic directors while they continually cry for more money.
The players, they don’t get paid and the walk-ons don’t even get fed and the graduate assistants don’t get living wages.
It’s reached the stage where a friend was telling me the other day, and he purchases suite tickets for football and up front cushioned seats in basketball, that his tickets come to $330 per game in football and $70-some per ticket in basketball.
That’s $330 per game to watch a four-win football team that had to schedule Georgia State and William & Mary to get them.
That’s why this weekend, to see fans and students and even players enjoying the games the way they were meant to be enjoyed, brought a little bit of a reminder back of what college sports are supposed to be about.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly
Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.
Speedy Shazier making quick impression
Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end. Others focused on his blazing speed and saw a safety.
Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tourney opener
Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.
Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye
The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.
Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers
Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
“This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”
Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots
Two down, one big one to go.
And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.
Bell looking for more decisive, productive season
Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.
Charges against Smallwood dropped
West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.
Rice, Dungy sideshows stain NFL
The National Football League guards its reputation as aggressively as lineman are paid to protect a quarterback.
So, as training camp opens around the country, how odd is it to see Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 32-team NFL empire battling bad headlines and stinging criticism from all quarters?
Anyone want to talk to the new quarterback for his early assessment of playing with the best and biggest players in the land? That would be business as usual. Nothing has been routine about the early days of camp this season.
DeVaul wraps up final season as Post 17’s leader
If you were to ask players on Fairmont American Legion Post 17’s roster who they looked up to, you’d find a familiar pattern.
Sure, you may get some Andrew McCutchens or some Derek Jeters as replies. But if you want to find out the real answer, just look into the dugout.
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