Mercifully, West Virginia’s football season has come to an end.
The record was 4-8.
That probably says all you want to hear about it, certainly not that it closed with consecutive losses to Kansas and Iowa State, the last one coming in triple overtime after the Mountaineers blew a 31-7 lead.
What went wrong with the season?
The offense went from among the nation’s most potent to one that went five overtime periods in three games without scoring a touchdown.
Can that be?
Oh, things happened.
West Virginia’s quarterback situation, in past years under Dana Holgorsen at Texas Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State and WVU, had been a strength almost beyond belief.
But was it Holgorsen’s strength or something he had inherited either from previous coaches such as he did with Geno Smith here?
Certainly the injury to Ford Childress hurt, as did a later injury to Clint Trickett, who by season’s end was looking gaunt and worn down.
What does that say?
Does Holgorsen, the offensive guru, survive this?
Does his offensive coordinator, Shannon Dawson, who was talking after the 52-44 loss to Iowa State as if he had not a worry in the world in that regard?
For example, talking about the progress Mario Alford made during this season, culminated by breaking 200 yards in receptions in the final game, this was what he said.
“We moved him to the outside and he’s slowly become a big play guy. He’s fast. He’s comfortable out there. We look for similar things from him through the course of next year. That’s a positive.”
Guys worrying about their jobs don’t talk about next year.
Yet Dawson sounded optimistic.
“At least we got the right pieces in place at receiver and we have some running backs who are coming back,” he said. “We know what they are capable of. It’s not like we played terrible the whole game. We just turned the ball over. We don’t turn the ball over, we win the game. That’s basically it.”
Indeed, there are receivers and running backs, Wendell Smallwood being joined in the backfield by former Pitt runner Russell Shell, but is there a quarterback who can run the offense?
And what of the defense?
A year ago it was the worst in the school’s history, forcing a change in coordinators to Keith Patterson.
This year it was the second worst in school history.
True, there was perhaps an unprecedented string of injuries on defense ... as many as 11 of them being out for the year.
The lack of depth was fatal to the defense, but it did not play well either, and that goes against the tradition built at West Virginia.
“To me, you fix those things from January to August,” Patterson said. “You have to have a program that’s set up to enjoy the daily grind. Then, when you get in game prep week that stuff will start showing up. When you can go out every single day and push yourself harder than you did the day before and can do things with discipline.
“When you can do that it becomes a lifestyle. That’s when you become a more consistent defense. Then you don’t play for one half. You don’t play for one series. You don’t play for three quarters. You play for four quarters for 60 minutes.
“That’s why we stress little things. Check on class, take the earrings out, tuck the shirt tails in. Those things matter.”
The entire organization lacked the kind of glue that makes it work. As the year went on, it appeared the coaching staff lost the players and the players lost the games, just like that.
Changes must be made, almost certainly will be made.
Special teams coach Joe DeForest, who now has a lot of baggage to drag around, figures to be unable to survive here, even though Holgorsen has defended him over and over.
Things have to change and change quickly, for it is hard to build when you possess the reputation of a losing program. Ask them at Kansas. Ask them at Iowa State, for that is the company West Virginia is keeping in the Big 12.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
Mercifully, West Virginia’s football season has come to an end.
- WVU Sports
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
Carey named Big 12 Coach of the Year
In only his second season in the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey has been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Oklahoma pulls away from WVU, 72-62
Reality hit West Virginia University in the gut Wednesday as No. 23 Oklahoma showed the Mountaineers almost every reason why they are not an NCAA Tournament team this year, pulling away in the second half to a 72-62 victory in Norman.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Lady Mountaineers will always remember their senior season
Taylor Palmer was following a much-traveled path when she packed up her gym shoes four years ago and left Mount Vernon, N.Y., for Morgantown to play basketball.
Lowes Moore and Kevin Jones had both done the same thing and become two of the greatest players West Virginia University had ever produced, each not only playing the game the way it should be played but living life the way it should be lived.
Bradley to give everyone a chance
A day after snubbing the local media by not talking to them on an evening set aside for interviews with assistant coaches, West Virginia University’s latest defensive savior Tom Bradley found 14 minutes to talk to IMG Sports, which possesses the rights to West Virginia sports.
FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-WVU star loves coaching at FSU
Joe Mazzulla, a native of the Providence, R.I., area, now is in his first year as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Fairmont State University.
He had made his coaching debut during a two-year hitch as a member of the staff at Glenville State.
Former WVU player sues NCAA, five conferences
Former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston sued the NCAA and five major conferences Wednesday, saying they violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cap the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending school.
WVU women clinch share of Big 12 title
West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team had just defeated Kansas, 67-60, to lay claim to a share of the Big 12 championship with Baylor on Tuesday night in the Coliseum, and someone had to sum up the feeling for the five seniors who had made the program grow to championship status.
That someone was Christal Caldwell.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete