Last week, the WVU sports information office launched a Web site to promote the Heisman candidacy of quarterback Pat White.
It’s a pretty slick site, and it's a real break from the past, when former sports information director Shelly Poe, since departed to Ohio State, essentially had this attitude with WVU’s star players: "We’ll let the national media find out about them on their own."
That would have been fine, had they played in L.A., Columbus, Athens, or even Boston, but they didn’t. They played in Morgantown. And a full-blown, "better ratchet it back up a bit or it will look embarrassing" Heisman campaign launched by WVU and Poe back in the day amounted to spiral notebooks with a photo of Jeff Hostetler on the cover.
How did he stand the exposure?
Thankfully, WVU sports information director Bryan Messerly understands the current century and has commissioned a Heisman-promotional site for White, designed by Blaine Turner Advertising in Morgantown.
The site contains plenty of get-to-know-Pat trivia, such as his favorite songs (heavy on the Jay-Z, one surprise C&W tune). The fun comes from the archival videos of White playing Pee Wee football.
Essentially, they look no different than his highlights from last season at WVU: White takes a direct snap and outruns everyone to the end zone. (Perhaps most dispiriting is the date of his Pee Wee season: 1996. Gad.)
This observation is not meant to disparage the offensive-genius reputation of former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez (new motto: “Designing an offense complex enough to be understood by Pee Wee players!”), but to note that White has been White since he was a kid: one of those players who just knows where the ball and end zone are.
This is not overly simplistic. While the other players on White’s Pee Wee team are running about with all the purpose, direction, and synchronicity of blind ferrets in a bag, White is in charge, even when he’s only four-feet tall, and calmly heading towards touchdown after touchdown. (One particularly amusing highlight occurs when a down-marker holder, not terribly impartial, throws down the marker in disgust as White runs about 80 yards for a touchdown.)
Even in his high-school highlights you can see White appropriately scoot out of bounds when necessary and take hard hits when necessary.
This is why I keep saying that White should have a real chance to play quarterback in the NFL. Everyone always says that NFL quarterback is a judgment position. It’s about making the right decisions on and off the field. It’s leadership and toughness.
If White has shown three characteristics during his time at WVU, it’s maturity, leadership, and toughness. The man practically willed WVU to its Gator Bowl win over Georgia Tech after the 2006 season.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I want to enjoy every minute of White’s last season at WVU -- where Pat White Plays.