By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Some-times you wonder.
West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team has a wild and wacky week this week as it tries against some pretty tough circumstances to get its team on the right track.
It isn’t just that on Tuesday they flew to Ames, Iowa, for a 9 p.m. game at Iowa State and then play three days later, at 2 p.m. Saturday, at Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.
That would make more sense if they were allowed to stay the extra day out on the road, but because of NCAA rules they have to fly back home following that 9 p.m. game in Ames for a single day, then fly out again Friday to play at Purdue.
“I’d rather not do it,” coach Bob Huggins admitted, explaining that it came about because it was a chance to play on CBS and that they couldn’t find any other date to fit such a game in.
Huggins said he expects the NCAA to look into making some rules changes, including this one, in the near future.
“I think with conference expansion and the different geography in college sports now, some rules have become antiquated,” he noted.
Indeed, with some conferences now stretching from coast to coast, with this Iowa State trip the shortest one on the Mountaineers’ Big 12 itinerary, the ruling body is going to have to make some new allowances for travel before it wears teams and students out.
“I think it would have been advantageous for us to stay rather than come back at times,” Huggins said. “I think you’ll see rules changes as the landscape of college athletics continues to change.”
Former WVU safety Robert Sands, now with the Cincinnati Bengals but on the injured list, was arrested Jan. 4 and charged with fourth-degree assault for allegedly assaulting his wife at their residence.
Statistics can sometimes be deceiving, but not so with West Virginia’s basketball team.
They go into Iowa State tonight a game over .500, and a loss would drop them to the .500 mark.
They may just be the perfect example of what a .500 team is, ranking 169th in the nation in scoring offense, 169th in scoring defense and 165th in scoring differential, averaging 2.3 more points a game than they are giving up.
With Virginia Tech, Pitt and Penn State no longer on WVU’s schedule, the Mountaineers are looking for a rival, and the way it’s shaping up, that just could be the University of Texas at Austin.
True, the Longhorns kind of have a rivalry of their own with Oklahoma, but think of the history these two teams are building in recent years.
This year’s basketball meeting went to overtime, WVU overcoming a 10-point deficit in the final 3:35 to win, 57-53.
Then there was the 2006 NCAA third-round game in which Kevin Pittsnogle hit a dramatic three-point shot to tie the game with five seconds to play only to have the Longhorns’ Kenton Paulino bang home a hurried, long-range three for the improbable 74-71 victory.
All-time WVU has played Texas four times in basketball. The scores as they split the four games?
2013: WVU 57, Texas 53
2006: Texas 74, WVU 71
2005: Texas 75, WVU 74
1973: WVU 80, Texas 79
That’s four games split with WVU scoring one more point than Texas.
Oh, and football ... WVU has won the two meetings but ...
1956: WVU 7, Texas 6
2012: WVU 48, Texas 45
Of such things are rivalries born.
Demolition and reconstruction of the WVU football weight room has begun and while it is taking place the weight facility has been moved to a section of the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility.
Former Mountaineer Bruce Irvin, who was a first-round selection of the Seattle Seahawks last year and helped them into the NFL playoffs this season, contributed $100,000 to the project.
Former Mountaineer fullback Owen Schmitt, known in his playing days as “The Runaway Beer Truck,” is making use of that name again.
A fullback on the 2005-07 teams who became something of a folk hero before playing in the NFL, he is going to open a Morgantown restaurant and bar that will feature music.
The site, when the bar is opened, will be at 245 Cheat Road, and will be made into a country style establishment. “I still don’t believe this is really happening,” Schmitt said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more stoked. I get to combine all my loves into one place that I will call home — music, food, sports and the state of West Virginia.”
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.