The headgear for West Virginia football, save Nike Combat and the gray unis, brings comfort to a fan’s soul. The navy shell with the gold flying WV on each side is in its 33rd year as both the protector and aggressor. Few other helmets mean as much to so many.
Add two more colors to the hat. Put red and white concentric circles on the top with a big red dot in the middle. The Mountaineers are a target right now and for the foreseeable future.
That’s the way it should be. Dana Holgorsen has welcomed players and fans to not only major college football, but to the upper echelon. He took the job in Almost Heaven to raise hell with the Football Bowl Subdivision, and it’s working.
WVU football is Top 10 in both Associated Press and USA Today. When the Bowl Championship Series standings appear, God willing and Texas Tech conquered, West Virginia will be on the way.
Or, West Virginia may pull off an Antonio Salieri, the tormented musician from the 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus.
Work with me here.
West Virginia will see the top two in the BCS rankings as Salieri saw the nearly unfathomable and unreachable musical genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The Mountaineers will know what it takes to get there, as Salieri was an accomplished musician himself.
But, will West Virginia secure a place in the 2012 BCS Championship game, or will it succumb to the taunting madness of failure that was Salieri’s fate?
West Virginia fans only have to look back to the 2007 season to feel the madness once again.
The main players of that loss to Pittsburgh have moved on. Pat White. Steve Slaton. Owen Schmitt. Rich Rodriguez. Paul Rhodes. Ed Pastilong. Bill Stewart, God’s own special teams coach.
Rock me, David Wannstedt.
The fans themselves remain.
Nearly five years ago, an ardent WVU fan from my parish was almost inconsolable with anger after Pitt upset West Virginia. Last Sunday, I saw him after Mass. I said, “John, that was some game in Austin last night. Do you think you’ve recovered from the Pitt Debacle?”
“No,” he replied as he looked away.
I’ve asked him the same question over the past five seasons after good wins. The 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 48-28 over No. 3 Oklahoma. The 2008 Gator Bowl win over North Carolina. The 2009 upset win over No. 8 Pittsburgh. And the 2011 Orange Bowl massacre of Clemson, 70-33.
I even checked in with him in 2010 after Bob Huggins led WVU hoops over Kentucky to punch his ticket for the Final Four.
The answer is the same.
Those who walked up the Law School hill road after Pitt won 13-9 and saw truck trailer loads of fireworks on the grass of the practice field, never to be ignited, thought what I thought. “We may never see this chance to win the national championship ever again.”
Lee Corso comes to mind.
“Not so fast, my friend!”
That chance has come around. Everything is in place.
Oliver Luck, a visionary with day-to-day skills, is in charge.
West Virginia is in the Big 12 Conference, the right conference with the right schedule. Kansas State and Oklahoma are playing in Morgantown.
Dana Holgorsen is definitely the right coach with his Air Raid, the right offense, or at least, a good one for winning football games.
Geno Smith, the quarterback, is the Heisman leader and the right leader for a West Virginia team with high hopes.
Stedman Bailey with his Muhammad Ali hands and Tavon Austin with his fleet feet are the right receivers for Geno’s uncannily accurate passes.
The offensive line has never been more experienced with no larger a mean streak since 1988.
The running game with Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Shawn Alston has never been more on a mission.
And the defense, made up of a baker’s dozen and a few more of once-maligned athletes, has had made its mistakes and grown from them, proved its worth by absolutely stopping Texas when Texas had to be stopped, and therefore is more than ready.
Everything is certainly in place.
The West Virginia University Mountaineers are now sitting in the BCS captain’s chair.
Yeah, they are.
Sure, they’re not actually “there” yet. And certainly, Antonio Salieri has spent too much time in the luxury boxes, cheap seats and the Blue Lot and has been watching too many WVU games from too many sports bars across the state.
Just because the targets are directly on top of the hats doesn’t mean WVU will falter. Rid yourselves of the Salieri within you and embrace the opportunity. Follow Oliver and Dana as they lead the way.
We got to do this.