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 email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.
- WVU Sports
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gyorko, Padres agree to extension
Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved
From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules