WVU Football and Geno Smith: The Gifted Student Takes on the Big 12 Conference

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIOctober 1, 2012

Geno Smith, quarterback for West Virginia University
Geno Smith, quarterback for West Virginia UniversityRob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

The tally was 70-56 West Virginia.  Baylor scored a late touchdown to bring the game to within seven.   Art Briles’ Bears were unable to get the ball back, so West Virginia held the ball and ran out the clock, as a multitude of thanks goes to JD Woods, the Human Venus Flytrap.

Consider this. Had Baylor tied it at 70-70 through the miracles of the onside kick (more on that later) and sent the game to overtime, that would have been WVU quarterback Geno Smith’s golden opportunity.  It would have taken merely six OT periods for Geno to get his 80 0th yard, therefore throwing through for the vaunted half-mile mark, although absolutely nothing about the record—setting West Virginia captain and leader contains an ounce of vainglory.

My sister-in-law is a physician in South Carolina, a good reasonable doctor not prone to exaggeration.  She texted:  "I’ve been watching ESPN and it seems like a lot of experts predicted in August that Geno Smith would be great.”

She’s right. Many college football pundits, and even some purveyors of the political landscape, have had their tickets punched for the Geno Smith caravan of runaway buses the size of Trace Adkins’ roadwagon, all of which require a completed Heisman ballot for a window seat.

I am not among them.  Geno Smith is a phenomenal college quarterback, but I want to see what he does on the road against No.11 Texas in Austin.  As well, No.7 Kansas State is on a tear and goes to Morgantown after warming up on Kansas and Iowa State.

It is likely, however, that by the end of October, and despite my trepidation, Geno Smith will not only be the top Heisman contender, he will be the model son for all mothers, and that’s not sarcasm because it’s probably already true.

Tim Rohan of The New York Times published an article, revealing Geno Smith to be a gifted student.  Rohan wrote of Geno immersed at the elementary school age in a curriculum stressing creativity and the arts, and simply flourishing.

The young Geno Smith competed in chess tournaments and, according to Rohan, won an oratorical contest in the fifth grade reciting the poetry of Langston Hughes, an early to mid- twentieth century essayist and jazz poet.

Geno seemingly had the golden touch with all academics long before he could air out his first spiral, but his true love was art.  In the seventh grade, writes Rohan, Smith entered a magnet program in which he received art instruction two hours daily.

One teacher who contributed to Rohan’s article said the quality of Geno’s sketches and drawings at age thirteen resembled that of college freshman in art schools.  He had, according to the teacher, profound observation skills that would translate into the subtleties and emotions of the human face, especially the eyes.  In his early teen years, Geno drew details of faces that some older artists overlooked or lacked the skills to portray.

Geno Smith was admitted to the New World School of the Arts in Miami, writes Rohan, but decided to attend at Miramar to play football.  West Virginia fans applaud his foresight, and the teachers of his youth say that’s okay because Geno Smith the artist is not finished.

The artist and his sense of perspective and how that transfigures onto the sports canvas within the lines have always fascinated me.  I’ve often wondered how an athlete with the prerequisite physical skills and with superb, finely honed skills of inferential examination would fare on the gridiron.

I think I have my answer.

Geno Smith has often enough said that as the contest gets more and more competitive and as the time ticks away with the minutes turning into seconds and as the players get tighter, the game slows down for him.  This is interesting.  Another West Virginia great has described his athletic career in many of the same words.

That would be Jerry West, as chronicled in his autobiography, West By West.