The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

July 12, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Van Halanger says Bowden changed his life

MORGANTOWN — First of all, I’d like to publicly thank Dave Van Halanger for verbally “writing” this column.

It’s the product of perhaps the most inspiring interview I’ve had via telephone in going on 68 years or so as a sports reporter.

Van Halanger, who turns 60 in October, was a great offensive tackle at West Virginia University from 1973-75 under Bobby Bowden. He also will be remembered as the organizer of WVU’s first formal strength and conditioning program.

After a second stint at Florida State, the Turtle Creek, Pa., native is the director of player welfare at the University of Georgia. He has filled that position since January 2011.

This is what the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Van Halanger had to say about his high school and WVU years:

“Playing football for Bobby Bowden changed my life. I was from the Pittsburgh area, and I didn’t know a whole lot about what life was really all about.

“’I was just there to play football! Period!

“Coach Bowden gave you a picture that there was a big world up there and that God played a big part in it.

“And to understand what it was all about, you needed to understand how life works. That’s what Bobby Bowden taught me.

“That’s my relationship with God. How to treat people. How to treat women — and everything. Just everything.

“Coach Bowden was the best even then.”

Van Halanger still retains a very close relationship with the legendary Bowden and his son Tommy, with whom he became best friends while at West Virginia.

“Coach Bobby Bowden is just a wonderful man. He has made so much happen for me,” he exclaimed.

Van Halanger recalled, “When I was in high school, I had a coach tell me how bad I was. ‘You’re trouble,’ he’d tell me. ‘I can’t stand you.’

“I can still see his big face in my big face yelling at me.’”

He continued, “When I went to West Virginia, after a year at prep school, Bobby Bowden said, ‘David, you’re going to be a great player (for three years at offensive tackle). I can see that.’ And he painted a picture of what I could be.”

As a result, every day since that, young Van Halanger worked as hard as possible not to disappoint his beloved head coach, now retired as the nation’s all-time wins leader.

Van Halanger dearly wanted to measure up to Bowden’s expectations – and did as a Mountaineer standout.

“Wow! He did so many great things for me,” Van Halanger reiterated.

He admittedly enjoyed his years as a player, as an assistant coach for Frank Cignetti and as a noted strength/conditioning pioneer.

Georgia couldn’t have a better man as director of player welfare with his knowledge and experiences.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

    They call him “Huey the Punter.”
    His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.
    To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

    April 13, 2014

  • Fans looking for answers in WVU Gold-Blue Game

    Perhaps the most important spring practice in Dana Holgorsen’s tenure as West Virginia football coach comes to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today when the annual Gold-Blue Spring Football Game is held at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
    The gates open at noon and tickets are $10 with net proceeds benefiting WVU Children’s Hospital.

    April 12, 2014

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