West Virginia football opens their 2010 campaign on Saturday against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
Which begs the question, what is a Chanticleer?
According to Wikipedia, Chanticleer is a rooster appearing in fables about Reynard the Fox, a version of which is told in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Since the name of the mascot is Chauncey the Chanticleer, and is actually portrayed as a rooster of a different feather color, the Wikipedia description appears correct.
So, why start a game overview with a description of the opposing team’s mascot?
Coastal Carolina is over-matched in this game.
Coastal Carolina fields a quality football team in the Big South Conference, an FCS conference. The Big South champion receives an automatic bid to the FCS championship tournament.
A quick review of the Coastal Carolina roster shows only a handful of players possessing the size that the Mountaineers average on both their offensive and defensive lines.
The Chanticleers are a well-coached team, of that there is no doubt. Coaching can only take a team so far. Eventually, players have to play the game.
The Coastal Carolina team, as a whole, simply does not possess the necessary talent to compete with the Mountaineers.
It is worth mentioning that the Coastal Carolina team has a player from Morgantown on its roster. Jeff Allen, a 6’ 3”, 245 lb. freshman fullback, from Morgantown High School is listed on their roster. Allen wears jersey No. 39.
That alone makes the Coastal Carolina game worth attending. For WVU fans, there is far more to digest as this game unfolds.
As with most season openers for the Mountaineers, victory is not foremost on a fans mind. WVU seldom plays a season opener that truly warrants concern over the outcome.
How the team executes, and how well they incorporate younger players into the game plan is foremost in most Mountaineer fans eyes.
Enter Ivan McCartney, a freshman wide receiver. McCartney stands 6”3”, 183lbs. McCartney shows a 4.5-second forty-yard dash in his recruiting bio.
Past his potential, there is further reason to follow McCartney’s progress as a Mountaineer.
It was recently announced that Ivan McCartney would be allowed to wear the No. 5 jersey during his career at West Virginia University.
Jersey No. 5 represents hallowed ground in the hills of West Virginia.
Apparently, there were two jersey numbers available for McCartney, No. 85 and No. 5.
Chad Ochocinco, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, wears jersey No. 85. Ochocinco just happens to be McCartney’s cousin. McCartney did not want to start his career at WVU in his cousin’s shadow.
Instead, he will begin his career at WVU in Pat White’s shadow, wearing his old jersey number.
McCartney said he was, “aware of what that number means to Mountaineer Nation,” but was willing to try the tradition on for size.
“I took No. 5 because I want to put my own legacy on it,” McCartney said. “I admire what Pat White did with No. 5, but I feel like it’s time for a new legacy to be put on No. 5.” Quote provided by Mike Casazza, Charleston Daily Mail.
Since Pat White’s graduation from WVU, many fans have asked the question why his jersey was not retired. Apparently, White’s accomplishments as a Mountaineer do not meet the criteria for jersey retirement.
“Let me tell you what: someday down there by Sam Huff, there’d better be a No. 5 there...There better be a statue," said Bill Stewart, head coach at West Virginia University.
Prior to White, another player made the No. 5 jersey relevant for WVU. The late Chris Henry also wore number five during his two years in a Mountaineer uniform.
Henry played in the 2003 and 2004 seasons as a wide receiver for the WVU football team. Henry’s 12 touchdown receptions in 2004 are tied for first place with Darius Reynaud’s 12 touchdown receptions in 2007 for most touchdown receptions in a season.
Since it is obvious that jersey No. 5 will not be retired for White, possibly the next best, option is for jersey No. 5 to become a symbol of football excellence on the Morgantown campus.
Much like the No. 44 jersey for Syracuse, and the No. 1 jersey for Michigan. Both schools do not issue their respective jersey numbers to just any player. Although, at Syracuse, jersey No. 44 will never be worn again, it has been retired.
The biggest question then becomes; can McCartney live up to, and add his own mystique to the No. 5 jersey?
Coastal Carolina will begin to answer that question. It will be McCartney’s entire career that will ultimately provide the answer.
For the 2010 season, the No. 5 jersey will again prowl the sidelines at Mountaineer football games.
With any luck, No. 5 will take Mountaineer football to heights unknown. After all, is that not what potential is all about?
Somewhere, Chris Henry is smiling; Pat White simply wants to see McCartney do it. As always, Mountaineer Nation just wants wins. If those wins come by benefit of McCartney wearing jersey No. 5, it is what it is.