Looking a little deeper at the West Virginia win over ninth-ranked Pittsburgh is essential to understanding the current state of the Mountaineer football program.
Here are the good points
WVU is 8-3, and fans are disappointed. When I was in college back during the Paleolithic era in 1975, the Mounties were 8-3, went to the Peach Bowl, and we were giddy. Expectations have risen that much, and that isn't anything but good.
West Virginia wins ugly, but wins indeed. South Florida kicked Mountaineer booty, but WVU played ugly games and was in those games at Auburn and Cincinnati until the end.
There were more tears on the West Virginia sidelines after last week's Pittsburgh game than at an all-women's Autumn in New York film festival. Seems the players have bought into coach Bill Stewart and his brand of inspiration.
Stew coached his heart out and lost his voice, similar to Dave Wannstedt throwing his crutches in '07.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown is a true winner, a good-looking man who has spent time on the catwalk, but a simply ugly QB. The only times he played poorly this season were a few minutes at Auburn and while he was feeling the effects of getting his brain sloshed around. Against Cincinnati, he was a champ.
Some knowledgeable fans want Jarrett to move on and get the more talented Geno Smith out there. Even though WVU will do well with Eugene, I think West Virginia will miss the big man's guts and leadership.
However, we can't ignore the bad
Don Nehlen coached a tried and true I-back offense setting up home runs. Rich Rodriguez stayed within an offensive system he developed. However, Bill Stewart coaches offense by his gut, moved by a feeling he doesn't even understand.
Stew's offensive philosophy extends to his defensive strategy. His propensity to not be able to satisfactorily explain what the hell is going on frustrates fans.
The head man got a signature win, but a) it was at home, and b) will the real Bill Stull please stand up?
Nehlen got his signature road win in his 23rd regular season game against No. 9 Oklahoma (sorry, Florida, bowls don't count). Rich Rod reeled his in at Blacksburg against No. 17 Virginia Tech toward the end of his second season. Even after being oh-so-close at Auburn and Cincinnati, Stew has yet to pull it off. It's important.
The assistants aren't coaching. No one has told Jarrett Brown how to run a three-step, five-step progression passing offense, thereby squandering the uber talents of the receivers as well as Jarrett's cannon arm. And what's up with the corners?
Speaking of the corners, the safeties have to roll over to help, leaving the linebackers to stop the run. Occasionally, a blitz or two works, but a defense this badass should be able to send four or five whenever it wishes.
Finally, where are the solid tackling of the Rich Rod days and the shutdown special teams Nehlen used to field?
What does this all mean?
West Virginia football will not enjoy national significance until the assistants get it together, gather the highly ranked recruits around, and teach some basics. Only then will Stewart's intuitive Jedi Kung Fu Lao-Tsu Tao Te Tseng approach to college football work.