Mountaineer Legacy: West Virginia University Should Retire Nos. 9 and 5

Bob AllenCorrespondent IIFebruary 16, 2011

West Virginia University has only retired two jersey numbers for its football program, No. 21 and 75.

Ira Rodgers wore No. 21, and not only did he play for the Mountaineers, he coached them too. Rodgers did a little bit of everything; he played QB, RB/FB, kicked, coached football, baseball and even golf.

Rodgers was the first Mountaineer to rush for over 200 yards in a game, his most touchdowns in a game (five) were the school record until Steve Slaton broke that with six in a game during his college career. Rodgers was also inducted into the college football Hall of Fame in 1953.

Sam Huff wore No. 75. He helped WVU to a 31-7 record during his tenure in Morgantown, including a berth in the 1954 Sugar Bowl which West Virginia lost 42-19 to Georgia Tech.

He was voted an All-American in 1955 and had an exceptional career in the NFL helping the New York Giants win the 1956 NFL championship as the first rookie middle linebacker to start in the NFL championship game.

Both Rodgers and Huff have excellent resumes and their numbers are rightfully retired, yet we should look at other irreplaceable players that have pushed WVU onto the national stage to join them. The two players of recent decades that should have their jersey numbers retired are none other than quarterbacks Major Harris and Patrick White. 

Major Harris, No. 9, played from 1987-1989. He led his team to one of only two undefeated regular seasons in West Virginia history in 1988 and led the Mountaineers to the 1989 National Championship game in the Fiesta Bowl against No. 1 Notre Dame.

WVU lost 34-21, but had Harris not been injured on the third play of the game when he has tackled by an Irish linebacker, the game just might have ended differently. Even with the loss he is still the only quarterback in school history to take them to a National Championship game.

Harris finished his career at West Virginia with 7,334 total yards of offense and a record of 25-10 over three seasons.

Pat White, No. 5, played from 2005-2008. White is the only quarterback in NCAA history to win four consecutive bowl games.

In 2005 after sharing the QB duties with Adam Bednarik, he took over as the starting QB during the Louisville game. With the Mountaineers behind 24–7, White came in to replace an injured Bednarik and helped lead the Mountaineers to a 46–44, triple overtime victory.

White currently holds the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback as well as the school record in total offense with 10,529 yards. White led West Virginia to BCS bowl wins over Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl and Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. White led West Virginia to three 11 win seasons 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Major Harris and Patrick White have had amazing careers at West Virginia University. If not for them the history of WVU football would be very different. These two men have done everything short of winning a national title for West Virginia, which by the way Rodgers and Huff never achieved either. 

Let's add No. 5 and 9 to the list of WVU numbers that will never see the field again. No one can fill the shoes of these great Mountaineers, and they should forever be honored and remembered.