The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 18, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: ’Bama game comes at a perfect time

MORGANTOWN —  

There is something about the opening day of any football season that is special, and it’s a shame when a school uses it for something other than a special game, as many do while trying to ease into the year against a lesser opponent.
For the most part, West Virginia University has found a way annually to make the opener one of the season highlights, although there was a spell there under Bill Stewart when a parade of patsies took a paycheck and a beating to get the Mountaineers off on the right foot.
These included Villanova, Liberty and Coastal Carolina which followed a date with Western Michigan in Rich Rodriguez’s final season.
But 2014 figures to be one of the truly great opening games in the school history, the Mountaineers having lined up one of those extra-special games that you would expect to be seen only in the heat of the newly minted BCS playoff system at season’s end.
The game, which became a reality on Thursday, is a made-for-TV spectacular in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and labeled the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The opponent is no less a football power than Alabama’s Crimson Tide, which goes into this season under Monongah’s own Nick Saban, who is fresh off a national championship this year.
While the Mountaineers of 2014 will be without both quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin, each about to enter his senior year, it still comes at a perfect time in the Dana Holgorsen era at the school, if it lasts that long.
It will be the start of his fourth year as WVU head coach, a time when most new coach’s programs click into full force, having recruited for three years and allowing his players – in this case both offensively and defensively – time to adapt to new systems.

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