The first is in Lawrence, Kan., in a meaningless football game on a Saturday afternoon, so little at stake that it was put on at 11 a.m. without a major national network paying it any attention.
Yet, there it was, as the final gun went off there was utter jubilation, the crowd, as it was, rushing the field, the goal posts being torn down, then carried from the stadium.
It was as if Dorothy and Toto had returned to Kansas.
The Jayhawks had finally won a Big 12 Conference game.
That’s how it was in the Midwest, but what of the Far West?
As newspaper publisher Horace Greeley popularized, we now “Go West, young man, go West!”
We find ourselves in Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, where Southern California has just kicked a game-winning field goal to stun unbeaten No. 4 Stanford.
While this game had far greater national implications, the scene was quite similar as fans rushed the field overcome with so much glee and/or alcohol that as many as 10 of them had to be taken to local hospitals for treatment of injuries as serious as a broken leg.
Two scenes we have concentrated on, but we beg to bring in another, for this one was also of national importance, being played in Auburn, Ala., between longtime, bitter rivals Georgia and Auburn, the game down to a fourth and 18 play for a trailing Auburn.
Unleashed was an impossible pass — a prayer, if this fits your beliefs — one that seemed ready to settle into the hands of either of two Georgia defenders who had the play smothered, only to bounce lazily in the air behind them where receiver Ricardo Louis could catch it in full stride and romp into the end zone with the winning touchdown.
Again, the crowd was sent into a frenzy.
“I looked around (the stands) before the play and it looked like everybody was sad, heads down,” Louis said. “And it kind of hurt me, because we wanted to keep what we’ve been having going on.”
What Auburn had going on was a season that now stands at 10-1 coming out of nowhere, as miraculous as the play itself.
By now you must be wondering why we bring up these scenes at this moment, and, be assured, there is a good reason.
College football, you see, is as special a sporting event as there is anywhere, except maybe the pure insanity that surrounds World Cup soccer.
It is important to remember this today, for it is difficult to understand the joy of the game the way things have gone here lately.
It is, perhaps, a hangover from the devastating loss to arch-rival Pitt when standing on the verge of a first national championship, a day that lives in West Virginia infamy, for it was not only a football loss but a loss of a football coach.
It has not been the same since, although there were winning games and winning moments, but for the most part we have found ourselves in the quiet of the losing locker room over the last year and a half, our pregame celebrations for more gala than the way we have had to drink away our sorrows in the shadow of defeat.
The aura of college football is being worn away by the sheer commercialism of the collegiate sports scene, watching wretched infighting within the administration and runaway contracts for coaches and athletic directors while they continually cry for more money.
The players, they don’t get paid and the walk-ons don’t even get fed and the graduate assistants don’t get living wages.
It’s reached the stage where a friend was telling me the other day, and he purchases suite tickets for football and up front cushioned seats in basketball, that his tickets come to $330 per game in football and $70-some per ticket in basketball.
That’s $330 per game to watch a four-win football team that had to schedule Georgia State and William & Mary to get them.
That’s why this weekend, to see fans and students and even players enjoying the games the way they were meant to be enjoyed, brought a little bit of a reminder back of what college sports are supposed to be about.
Follow Bob Hertzel 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.
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