The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

July 1, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: A brave, new world for WVU

MORGANTOWN — Today is a festive day in these parts, the day when West Virginia slides in seamlessly with its new Big 12 brethren, riding in on high expectations from within but facing the same thing it has always faced.

West Virginia is an underdog ... and loves it.

The truth is, even with 70 points having been put together in winning the Orange Bowl, there is no one who looks at WVU with the same reverence it reserves for Texas and Oklahoma as football and athletic programs.

What’s more, the road to the first division in the Big 12, a football conference that also features Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU, is not an easy one.

This is something more than simply an athletic change. It is, instead, a cultural change, a trip into a cactus conference with a history that the Big East never could approach.

One might wonder why WVU might want to take on this challenge, considering it was in a relatively soft spot, but the Mountaineers really had no choice but to act because their world was coming undone around them.

So what does WVU bring with it to this bigger, tougher new challenge athletically across the board?

What was it that carried the Mountaineers to their greatest heights?

The man who led them to some of their greatest moments understands what worked before and what will be necessary for the future.

“Hard work pays off,” former quarterback Patrick White said the other day.

To White, whom many believe was the greatest quarterback at the school, with any apologies due Major Harris, Jeff Hostetler, Marc Bulger or Geno Smith, it was good, old-fashioned West Virginia values that lifted the state university to the brink of a date in the national championship game before Pitt threw the world off its axis with one of the most unexpected upsets in college football history.

Until then, WVU was living off attitude as much as ability.

“If you see it and believe it, then it can happen,” White said. “That’s what I learned on the teams I was part of here at West Virginia. Miami was a different story. I don’t know if they saw that or believed it. But here in Morgantown we believed. We showed it every time we went out.”

White, of course, even had a year in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins but he didn’t find that same ethic and value system that could take a team and make it play better at amazing heights.

“Most people didn’t pay us too much attention, but for the first half of most games we were either down, tied or not doing so well,” White recalled.

It seemed that weekly that team’s will was tested, but they always seemed to find a way to jimmy something together to turn the emotional tide of the first half in its own favor.

What says he knows why it was possible.

“Because of the faith we had in each other and the hard work we put in, we were able to finish those games in the fourth quarter and come out victorious,” he said.

And think how much faith that team had to have to pull out a solid Fiesta Bowl victory over an unsuspecting Oklahoma team, one that certainly will be looking for payback when the two teams get together this year.

If West Virginia is going to succeed athletically in the Big 12, it is going to have to bring the intangibles with it and keep them there, for there will be no shortcut to success in this venture ... and that goes for basketball, too.

Relying on one another, being close and sharing responsibility and duties is what gets a basketball team through, and you saw how it worked with John Beilein’s teams and with Bob Huggins’. This is true be it at a time of victory or one of defeat such as Kevin Jones just went through last week when the NBA made the mistake of bypassing him in the draft.

Rather than turn on the tears, KJ opted to find some reason to see happiness, and this was what he tweeted to his teammate and friend, Truck Bryant, also bypassed in the draft: “S/o to my big brother @truckbryant25 always there for me as a best friend and teammate.”

In the end it is teammates against the world and there is something at work, especially at West Virginia, where this is more of necessity and more common than at other schools.

The one thing WVU does not have to worry about bringing along to the Big 12 is the final thing Patrick White mentioned when speaking of what you get here as an athlete.

“Community support,” White said. “It gives you motivation. It makes you feel like you have a backbone even if you don’t. The level of respect and amount of work they put in and I guess the type of people they are make them that way.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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.

    April 16, 2014

  • 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.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos