The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 5, 2011

Shared paths

Harris, White have similar stories after time at WVU

MORGANTOWN — The other day, as West Virginia University readied itself for the Bowling Green game in what was designated as a reunion weekend for WVU quarterbacks from the past, Hoppy Kerchaval welcomed Patrick White to his Friday morning talk show.

White, you surely know, ranks either first or second with Major Harris as the greatest quarterbacks ever to play at the school. He was a second-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins.

Kerchaval asked White if he had plans to play more football, being still in the prime of his athletic career.

“I’ve been booted out of two leagues,” White said. “I’m through.”

White, who was cut by Miami after spending a season on the bench and suffering a concussion before being quickly cut by the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League this year, indicated he had plans for the future but refused to divulge them.

It is curious, in some ways, how WVU’s two greatest quarterbacks (we’ll save Marc Bulger’s ranking for another day, considering that he never carried the team to the brink of a national title) both suffered similar fates after their collegiate careers ended.

White, of course, played his to the end, found himself looking at going to the national title game only to have a four-touchdown underdog Pitt team end that dream in Mountaineer Field.

Harris, on the other hand, after leading WVU to a national title game against Notre Dame in the 1988 season as a sophomore only to be injured early in the game, opted to skip his senior season and enter the draft.

His style, like White’s, was more athlete than quarterback, able to run as well as throw, and when he came along there was not much use in the NFL for such an animal and he lasted until the ninth round of the draft and never played a down of NFL football.

“It’s just one of those things. It happens,” Harris said the other day at the quarterback reunion, addressing the way both situations played out. “It all depends on the coach on the NFL level and whether they want to go outside the box, so to speak.”

It has always been difficult to get the NFL to innovate much in the way of changing systems, most of the experimentation being done on the college level.

“It’s almost like the old saying — and I’m not knocking coaches — but

it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” Harris said. “A coach who has coached 20 years in the NFL doesn’t want to change because he might take it as, ‘Was I a failure coaching the other way?’

“It’s a Catch-22,” Harris continued. “Some coaches just say the hell with it and do what they think they need to do to win.”

And so it was Harris slid off into football oblivion, a wispy memory of days gone by but unable to really cash in on his fame or to prove himself.

He didn’t sulk, curse his luck or disappear; he just accepted his fate and thought his days in the limelight were gone.

“I felt I was given an opportunity. If I can’t get a job, so be it,” he said. “It’s almost like if I’m an actor and I go in for an audition and don’t get the part, I still can feel I did a good job trying out for it.”

Then one day last year his entire life changed, and he was jolted back into reality.

Major Harris was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

“I was probably more shocked than any player that got inducted, considering the way my career went and that I didn’t have an NFL career,” he admitted.

It hit him like a bolt of lightning out of a steel gray sky. It was like learning you hit the lottery with a ticket you forgot you had purchased.

Life changed almost immediately.

“In my case, it was almost like I was in a race and I was in last place, then the Hall of Fame thing comes along and jump starts you and moves you up in status in football. It becomes a spot where people say you deserved a shot in the NFL and it legitimatizes you,” he said.

All of a sudden he was being requested at autograph shows, to speak at functions, to become ... well, a Hall of Famer, which is a profession in and of itself.

The call came long after his career ended, 21 years to be exact. It was a deserving call, a wonderful choice.

And it can only be hoped that Patrick White doesn’t have to wait quite that long to get his place in the Hall of Fame, too.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

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