The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 25, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN - Plenty of reasons to give thanks

MORGANTOWN — Giving thanks for:

• Being able to live a life in newsrooms and arenas across America that kept the heart as young as the baby-faced freshmen we deal with now on a daily basis as the body got older.

• Discovering West Virginia, which offered an escape from the streets of New York, the old Yankee Stadium and dealing with George Steinbrenner on a daily basis. If viewing the Empire State Building awes you for what it took to build it, view these green mountains here in West Virginia and understand what a real engineering feat is.

• For being able to see Willie Mays and Ken Griffey patrol the centerfields of the major leagues while in the same lifetime, blending power and grace unlike anyone else.

• For having been born long enough ago to see Jim Brown run like no one before him and no one after him and to see Gayle Sayers move like a gazelle over a mud-covered field and then hanging around long enough to see Bo Jackson and Walter Payton at their best.

• Being granted time to wait for the next generation of Browns and Sayers and Jacksons and Paytons to come along.

• Having the privilege of covering Da’Sean Butler through his college career, for the joy he brought in watching him and for the way he carried himself in each and every situation.

• Being able to repeat the above about Patrick White, and wish he and Butler somehow find ways to bring to the world what they brought to West Virginia through their athletic prowess.

• Being able to watch Joe Alexander soar through the air for at least a short time.

• Watching Bob Huggins operate up close, not because he went to a Final Four, but so the misconceptions we had of him as a person could be corrected. He really cares for the kids he coaches.

• Having a profession in which you could cover such events as Wimbledon, the U.S. Open in golf and tennis, the Masters, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four.

• Having a profession in which you could deal with Sparky Anderson, Chuck Tanner and Jim Leyland, with Pete Rose and Willie Stargell, with Jerry West and Rod Thorn and Hot Rod Hundley, with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, to say nothing of the hundreds of athletes who have come through West Virginia over the past 15 years and grown from children to adults before our eyes.

• The Backyard Brawl, which renews tomorrow its good, clean competition at the highest level.

• Getting to cover the 2007 Backyard Brawl, an upset like no other upset and a game that brought out into the open more about a football coach than it did about his team.

• Bringing Oliver Luck back to Morgantown.

• The good guy coaches not yet mentioned like Paul Brown and Don Nehlen and John Beilein and Bill Kirelawilch and Steve Dunlap and Jeff Casteel.

• Mya, the black cat that has become a companion, and for Lisa, the tiniest of cats who used up her nine lives far too quickly.

• Being there when Amos Zereoue scored a 60-yard touchdown on his first college carry against Pitt, when West Virginia defeated Louisville in the coming out game for Patrick White and Steve Slaton, when Owen Schmitt broke his first face mask, Da’Sean Butler beat the buzzer (each time), when Bill Stewart debuted as football coach and beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, when Quincy Wilson ran over Miami’s Brandon Meriweather on one the greatest catch-and-runs in college football history, when Kevin Pittsnogle captured the attention of the nation with his 3s while helping the Mountaineers run to the Elite Eight.

• Finding a second home at the Boston Beanery on Patteson Drive here in Morgantown.

• My television’s remote control, without which America might actually be able to sit and watch a program or sporting event from start to finish.

• The NCAA keeping the number of bowl games to fewer than half the number of teams that play football so that some teams don’t have to play in two of them.

• To the NCAA for not putting a championship tournament in for football, not wanting to make the same mistake it made when it started that unpopular, profitless NCAA Basketball Tournament.

• And, of course, we give thanks for brave Robby, Amy and Chris, who awaits a Christmas time baby.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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