After a week in Wonderland, it’s great to be home.
Back to normal, back to the routine.
We left the sun and the warmth and 70 points behind in Florida, where you come to learn is where it really belongs.
Nice place to visit, Florida is, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Not when you’re sitting on I-95 at 5 p.m. with four lanes of traffic going nowhere.
Speaking of the interstate, reminds of a Facebook posting from someone who said when he got back into West Virginia the speed limit sign on the Interstate read 70 .. and under it someone had scribbled in, Clemson 33.
That’s another thing nice about being home … a sense of humor.
With an Orange Bowl victory under the Mountaineers’ belts, everyone in these parts is smiling.
It is a Jarrett Brown kind of smile, the one that the former Mountaineer quarterback was wearing as he walked out of the WVU locker room following the Orange Bowl victory, the smile that can light up an entire state, at least the state that is West Virginia.
Smile? Why, after watching Darwin Cook prance 99 yards with the football firmly in his grasp to turn the Orange Bowl game around, West Virginians could even smile about television announcer Brad Nessler’s proclamation that Clemson, which had beaten Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game, would now be playing “another school from Virginia” in West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.
Funny guy, that Brad Nessler.
But really, he should know better. This is, after all, one of America’s premier programs.
Let’s see now, West Virginia has won three BCS bowls in the last seven Januarys.
That would make it one of America’s premier programs, wouldn’t it?
And it’s been to the Final Four in men’s basketball in the last few years and has one of the four winningest coaches active in college basketball in Bob Huggins.
Kind of makes it a player in that sport, too, doesn’t it?
This is big stuff, people, for a state that has suffered far too long from an image problem.
You come down to Florida and mention that you’re from West Virginia and it doesn’t matter to whom you are speaking, you get the feeling you are talking to Brad Nessler himself.
They don’t quite say “I’m sorry,” but you get that feeling that they are surprised you’re wearing shoes on your feet and that your face isn’t covered in coal dust.
But you notice that’s changing these days. They know the logo of the state university, and if they don’t know the state capitol is in Charleston they know the school is in Morgantown.
They may not want to talk to you about the economy, but they will ask you what kind of guy that Bob Huggins really is or something like “where’d you guys find that Holgorsen fella?”
OK, they don’t know Earl Ray Tomblin is governor of the state, but they can tell you that Geno Smith threw for 401 yards against Clemson.
The other night, in a restaurant/bar on the beach at Fort
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea named Aruba, the conversation was with a retired high school coach who was in town with Clemson for the Orange Bowl game. The talk naturally got around to football and some of his connections, and it led one way or the other to him having been at a football camp with Lou Holtz.
“He’s from West Virginia,” I said to him, and he looked quizzically at me and said, “He is?”
A few moments later he mentioned Nick Saban and Alabama, again leading me to say, “He’s from West Virginia, too,” and him to say, “He is?”
And before not too much time the name Rich Rodriguez came up and, you guessed it, we noted, “He’s from West Virginia, too, not far from where Nick Saban is from.”
We avoided mentioning Jimbo Fisher, but before long the talk turned to Clemson and he got to speaking about Tommy Bowden before he realized that the former Clemson coach is also from West Virginia, too.
We could have mentioned Fielding Yost, too, who invented Michigan football, or Doc Holliday or Terry Bowden, but by now the point had been made that football coaches, not coal, may be the state’s greatest product and that athletics are done more for spreading the word about West Virginia than any chamber of commerce ever could do.
In fact, when you think about it, this is quite a treasure we have here in West Virginia, this state and its people.
True, we aren’t selling as much suntan lotion these days as they do down in Fort Lauderdale, and South High Street can’t compare with South Beach in Miami as a destination, but what we have is uniquely our own, a group of proud, hard-working friendly neighbors who would rather have a beer with you than a glass of Chablis and who still appreciate the finer things in life — like a BCS bowl victory.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.
- WVU Sports
FURFARI COLUMN: Jerry West merits credit for Warriors’ jump in NBA
If you follow the National Basketball Association action, you’ll note that the Golden State Warriors are faring very well.
And for such significant improvement, you’ve got to give much of the credit, I’m told, to the legendary Jerry West — the greatest basketball player in West Virginia University’s history.
Dreadful shooting costs WVU in 70-61 loss to Missouri
West Virginia University couldn’t get out of Columbia, Mo., fast enough Thursday night, but the predicted snow/ice/cold storm had far less to do with it than the storm the Missouri Tigers brewed up for them.
Mountaineers square off with similar Missouri team
If Bob Huggins took a mirror and held it up to the Missouri team that West Virginia University plays tonight in Columbia, Mo., he would get back a reflection of his own team.
FURFARI COLUMN: The sweet and bitter about Oliver Luck
OK, so athletic director Oliver Luck admittedly remains confident that third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff can turn around West Virginia University’s sinking football program in 2014.
Luck announces Holgorsen will be retained for 2014
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck put an end to the speculation about the future of head football coach Dana Holgorsen on Tuesday, announcing that he and his staff would be retained for 2014 despite a second consecutive disappointing season.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Like it or not, Holgorsen is coming back
Like it or not, it appears that Dana Holgorsen and his staff will be back to coach the West Virginia football team next year, looking down the throat of an angry Alabama football team to open the season.
FURFARI COLUMN: How much lower can WVU’s program get?
How much lower can West Virginia University’s football program get in the wake of a 4-8 season?
Isn’t there any leadership in that institution that’s at least concerned about the damages thrust upon the Mountaineer fan base by Oliver Luck and Dana Holgorsen the past three years or so?
WVU women overwhelm Coppin State
West Virginia’s women’s basketball team, ignited by Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer, turned on the juice after a lackadaisical first half and scored 56 second-half points to bury a game against an overmatched Coppin State team. The 88-56 win gave coach Mike Carey his 250th victory as Mountaineer coach.
Mountaineers make quick work of Greyhounds
A day before West Virginia was to play what seemed to be a dangerous Loyola of Maryland basketball team at the Coliseum, coach Bob Huggins talked for some time in depth about shortcomings his team had been displaying and about how they would have to overcome them to become a good team.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Huggins’ 729th win puts him in elite company
There probably was a time in the middle of last season when Bob Huggins wondered if this day ever would arrive, almost as the thought crossed his mind as he lay in the Pittsburgh airport suffering a heart attack that would have killed a less cantankerous man.
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