The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 6, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant called his own plays at WVU

MORGANTOWN — It is certainly understandable that third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen remains concerned that West Virginia University’s communication of signals be straightened out at the season’s halfway mark.

Such signals from him to the quarterback and to whoever else on the field in need are vital to any success this year’s Mountaineer team is to achieve.

But this was not a problem for West Virginia’s Golden Era successful football teams in 1952, ’53, ’54, and ’55.

The late Art “Pappy” Lewis was the veteran head coach, and Fred Wyant, who still resides in the Morgantown area (Star City), was the outstanding four-year starting quarterback.

And that young man, who’s now approaching the age of 80, was prepared well enough to call his own plays. He was coached to do that almost instantly by both Lewis and offensive coordinator Ed “Rooster” Shockey.

I interviewed Fred Wyant about this matter last week. Here’s much of what the well-known insurance and marketing businessman had to say:

“We were opening the 1952 season at home and Furman was leading 22-0 with about nine minutes left. Gerald McInerney and Ted Anderson were ahead of me along with another QB. So ‘Pappy’ sent me into the game.

“In our first series, we didn’t move the chains in three plays. I went over to the sideline, and Coach Lewis motioned to me that we should punt the ball. I always liked to follow directions since I was 12 years old. But I went into the huddle, turned around and said, ‘I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to kick the ball.’

“They didn’t want to punt either, so I threw a forward pass 60 yards in the air and (running back) Jack Stone caught it over the top of his head.

“That tied the school record set by the great Ira Rodgers for a touchdown, and then we scored again and we lost 22-14.”

While his teammates headed toward the locker room, Wyant walked toward the head coach. Instead of giving Wyant heck for not doing what he was told, Lewis said, “Boy, you’re going to be my quarterback from now on if you can follow directions.”

Wyant confirmed that he not only started every game after that, but he was allowed by Coach Lewis to call every play himself after that.

To enable him to do that, he met daily at noon with Shockey to discuss the defensive tendencies of the next opponent.

Wyant, who was a graduate of Weston High School, led his great teams to a four-year record of 30-4 as a starter. That remains the best mark by a quarterback, percentage-wise, in WVU’s 122-year football history.

Wyant was a team captain as a senior.

During his career, the Mountaineers posted three consecutive wins against Penn State, then a big rival annually. It’s a school record which may never be equaled.

In Wyant’s freshman season, he guided the 1952 team to a 16-0 upset of old rival Pitt. That was West Virginia’s first-ever triumph against a nationally ranked team.

“I played with some talented, smart guys,” Wyant said. “And we played both ways — defense and offense.

“Indeed, it was a wonderful era for WVU.”

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • WVU athletic department to form Fan Experience Committee

    The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is forming a fan experience committee to discuss the needs of Mountaineer fans with the hopes of enhancing the fan experience at its events.

    April 22, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a long-time baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

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