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
  • 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