It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood!
The time was 5:30 A.M. I read nice articles in the sports section of the Charleston Daily Mail this morning. I read sportswriters plying their craft on the promise of Mountaineer football; the running, passing, catching, blocking, tackling, hitting, hooting, and hollering and whatever you call those jumping body bumps.
I couldn’t find anything about the dark side of Mountaineer football, as in NCAA rule violations, psychological denial, grown men unable to read the rule book, especially Section 18.104.22.168, subsection “D," and the cognitive dissonance between what they read and what they did.
The sportswriters of the print media gave us precious time off from all that depravity.
A day without violations is like a day of sunshine galore.
The dark cumulus clouds are forming on the horizon of West Virginia athletics. Those charcoal gray puff balls have been here before. The fans have felt the rain and wind in their faces.
The Mountaineers were 12-22 during 1978 through 1980, my three years at WVU.
In the latter years of the 1990s, a lot of talented football players wore the navy blue and gold, but they couldn’t put it together to meet the teams’ potential.
The Rich Rodriguez era opened with a dismal record of 3-8 in 2001. And the Big East conference fell apart in before the 2004 season.
Up until now, you could borrow the line from the old investment firm television ad and say “West Virginia football wins the old fashioned way…they earn it.”
Now, West Virginia football is accused of breaking the rules. The allegations, major or minor, go against everything the denizens of Almost Heaven believe.
No matter what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, hard work and fair play get honest results. When those results are losses and they hurt all the way down to the heart, Mountaineer fans take it on the chin and line up again the following week.
Action needs to be taken, it is said. There are clauses in Bill Stewart’s contract. We can deal with this right now. Someone has to be accountable. Think of all the money that would be saved.
Get a grip.
First, you’re talking about firing the coach who has the lowest salary of all head coaches in the Big East conference. The total package was set up in the winter of 2008 with Stewart taking home less while his assistants earn more.
And you’re the ones who wanted to offer the world to Nick Saban?
You’re not going to save any money by telling Bill Stewart to take a hike.
Second, you know those “clauses?” All contractual personnel just about anywhere have “clauses” hanging over their heads. They discourage getting arrested for shoplifting or a DUI.
A group of boosters in 2001 wanted to take Rich Rod down on the “morals clause” in his contract. You know the rumors I’m talking about.
You also recall Alabama head coach Mike Price and “Roll Tide!” That’s the kind of barefaced embarrassment morals clauses prevent from happening…again.
That’s what the boosters wanted to do to Rich.
The following year Rod upset Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. In 2003, he brought Beamer’s third ranked team to Morgantown and hammered him again.
The talk was silenced.
Then, Rich faked a punt to win the Sugar Bowl over SEC champion Georgia in Atlanta.
It was as if the “morals” charge had never happened.
We now have Bill Stewart in the sling. He reads about Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez for motivation. He watches his struggle between good and evil in this morality play.
Coach Stewart, the moral is: win. Winning makes ill will go away.
You win and they'll leave you alone.