The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 9, 2011

Curtis keeps an eye on WVU’s Irvin

MORGANTOWN — A few prize tidbits from the West Virginia University Hall of Fame induction ceremony that preceded WVU’s game against Connecticut on Saturday:

Canute Curtis, the Amityville Horror, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in part because he holds the school’s career sack record of 34.5.

Former running back and assistant athletic director Garrett Ford noted that Curtis had taken more of an interest in how the team was doing in recent days.

“He’d call me after every game as ask, ‘How did Bruce Irvin do? Did he get any sacks?’ See, when you have a record, you cherish it and don’t want anyone to take it from you.”

In Saturday’s 43-16 victory over Connecticut, Irvin had 1.5 sacks. He now has 16.5 for his career, meaning Curtis’ record seems quite safe.

Curtis remembered how he got into football as a youth.

“I fell in love with the game of football the year Marcus Allen made that long run in the Super Bowl,” he said. “I was watching with my dad and told him that someday I was going be doing that. Like he always did, he told me, ‘No chance of you ever doing it.’

“Well, the next day he signed me up for football for the following year and, you know what? On those times when I didn’t feel like going to football, he would come up to me and say you will get your tail to football. I paid $40 for you to play.”

Curtis waxed poetically about his love for West Virginia after having come from New York.

“My wife would tell me she couldn’t understand it,” he said. “I explained to her that if I hadn’t gone to West Virginia I never would have met her. I might be married to someone from Jersey!”

Steve Newberry, a former defensive back who holds the school’s career interception record at 20, recalled reporting to the team out Petersburg.

“I went into the locker room and this fullback says to me, ‘Hey, we need some towels in here.’ A little while later, he apologized, saying he mistook me for a student manager. Of course, that was after I went and got those towels for him.”

Coach Don Nehlen presented Newberry and tried to emphasize just how big a thing 20 career interceptions is, four more than any other player ever had.

 “You have to remember, back then (1980-83) they were only throwing 20 or 25 passes in a game. We might throw that many today in the first quarter,” Nehlen said, referring to new coach Dana Holgorsen’s MountainAir offense.

Track star Pat Itanya, a national champion and holder of the school long jump record, was introduced by her husband, Anthony Williams, an assistant track coach at Villanova.

He put her accomplishments in perspective best when he called the native of Nigeria, whose sister came all the way from Nigeria to be present at the induction, “a true West Virginia legend.”

Explaining what she was like as an athlete, Williams said: “For you Jeopardy buffs, Pat Itanya is answer, the question is ‘what is a coach’s dream.’”

Nehlen on Curtis, who has added an ounce or two since playing at WVU and 7 years in the NFL: “Believe it or not, he was a defensive end here. He looks a little like a defensive tackle right now.”

Basketball’s Warren Baker was the crowd favorite, fans and friends of his holding up a series of signs that read “Bake: The King of Sweetness”

Baker recalled that the stadium complex was built on what once was the university’s golf course and it was where he started playing the game, maybe right up until “I hit the coach in the heat with one of my shots.”

Baker says he should be credited with the construction of the stadium, noting his golf game was so bad and he cut up so many divots “it set the stage for the excavation.”

GAME NOTES — WRs Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney each surpassed 100 yards in receiving, Bailey with 178 yards and McCartney 131. It the third time more than one WVU receiver has caught passes for 100 yards in a game … Bailey set a school record by surpassing 100 yards receiving for the fourth straight game … Bailey’s 84-yard TD reception was the fifth longest in school history … Geno Smith’s 450 passing yards moved him past 2,000 for the season and gave him 5,231 yards, passing Major Harris and moving into sixth place all-time at WVU … He also tied Harris with 41 career TD passes, also sixth … Jewone Snow’s 83-yard non-touchdown fumble return may have been the longest of all-time at WVU. The records were only checked back to 2001 when Tim Love returned one 41 yards without a TD.

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