West Virginia: A Win Is a Win Is a Win, but This Is Getting Ridiculous

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIINovember 9, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 27:  Head coach Bill Stewart of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates after a 31-30 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels after the Meineke Car Care Bowl on December 27, 2008 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

"Winning ugly" is a descriptive phrase referring to a method by which a team does everything it can to lose, but still ends up on the top end of the score.  An ugly win, otherwise known as "a win is a win is a win," is acceptable on occasion as a display of a team's resiliency.

Aristotle said essentially that you are what you continuously do.  So, the Greek philosopher can be paraphrased as proclaiming that too many ugly wins make you an ugly team.

Liberty, Marshall, Connecticut, and now Louisville.

It's beginning to make sense to me.

Just to get this straight, don't confuse ugly with blue collar.  Penn State, for example, has made an aesthetic art form of its decades-long navy blue line of successful blue collar teams.  My favorite was the 1986 national championship squad that pounded into submission the efficient scoring machine that was the Miami Hurricanes.

Similarly, the Junkyard Dog defenses of Georgia in the late '70s and the early '80s weren't ugly.  They were scary.

The triple option offenses presently run by the service academies make you think they're ugly.  But, ironically, had Notre Dame beaten Navy Saturday night, and the Irish could have, that would have been the consummate ugly win.

It's a fact that ugly teams don't win championships.  I defy you to name an ugly team that has played in a BCS bowl in this decade.  No, no...heavy underdog BCS teams are not ugly.  They're just undesirable, until they win.  Like '06 Boise State and '07 West Virginia, which both happened to beat really pretty Oklahoma teams.

Was it Forrest Gump's mother who could have said, "Pretty is as pretty does?"

Back to '09 West Virginia.  Here are some things to consider:

The Mountaineers have an offensive line that has returned to struggling.

It was obvious to most everyone in section 214 on Saturday that quarterback Jarrett Brown is running like he's merely seconds away from his next concussion.  I, too, would be concerned.

The talents of two NFL quality wideouts, Alric Arnett and Bradley Starks, are being squandered.

The Mountaineers' best receiver, Jock Sanders, is now a running back working behind a line that is struggling.

The defensive line has been decimated by injuries.

To borrow from tennis legend John McEnroe, middle linebacker Reed Williams' entire upper body could fall off at any moment.

West Virginia safeties cannot provide run support because they have to cover the corners.

The head coach, a nice guy, is becoming short with fans on state-wide radio.

And...the best performing player on the team is the punter.

Now, that's ugly.

Which leads me to my conclusion.

In the early '70s, a Midwestern college with which I am very familiar had a 1-10 football team.  The highlight of this team's offensive game was fourth down.  That's when the punter, whom I call Bob, took the field and boomed absolutely beautiful 50-plus yarders that spiraled and turned over perfectly.  Every time.

Bob's summer training regimen was legendary.  He would gather a) a dozen leather footballs in a netted sack, b) a small plastic baggie of pot, c) a book of E-Z Wider cigarette papers, and d) a Bic lighter, and head to the practice field.

Upon arriving, Bob would roll a few joints, kick the balls, smoke one of the doobies while gathering the balls, and do it all over again.  Bob's tolerance for marijuana was also legendary, so his afternoon of punting and recreational drug usage went on for a while.

Just goes to show you: there are plenty of different ways to do things, so West Virginia better figure out how it's going to win ugly in Cincinnati.


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