West Virginia Football at Stake?

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIISeptember 21, 2008

It was a tough fortnight in West Virginia: The Mountaineers suffered consecutive embarrassing losses and the financial markets hit the skids, directly affecting the coal, oil, and natural gas millionaires here who lean on both. More about that later.


Back to the past two weeks. What was the problem? West Virginia amassed a total of three points against a very capable East Carolina squad, but blamed it on a fumble early in the first quarter. Then, WVU ran all over the field between the twenties against Colorado but couldn’t convert a number of key late short-yardage situations.


As for the masters of the universe in the stock and bond markets, these geniuses traded exotic academia-generated “securities” without knowing what would happen when things go terribly wrong, and now all of us have to pay.


Cause of problem in both cases? No adult supervision.


It’s true. Ball control. Short yardage. Hat-to-the-body tackling. Special teams. The success of all those essential aspects of football is directly tied to coaching, and directly from the head coach, the man who sets the tone by instilling the swagger in his charges.


It ain’t happenin’.


How the times have changed. We all had the first-time-ever-I-saw-your-face glow while running up 48 against Oklahoma—oh, when was that? Now, after three games of watching WVU flop like a flounder on the deck of the pier, the faithful is ready to throw Bill Stewart out, the bum.


Not so fast.


Here’s my suggestion:


Keep him, but invite him to a meeting. A big meeting, like one with all the coal, oil, and natural gas millionaires who contribute heavily to Mountaineer athletics (read: football).


Bring in the bankers and other business professionals who have a huge vested interest in the mansion Don Nehlen built. Let Stew know this: we aren’t Virginia Military Academy.


My man, they should say to the coach, the stakes here are absolutely enormous. However, we’re looking at a line that can’t block, a Heisman candidate who can’t put it all together, and a defensive backfield of matadors. And guess whose lap that falls into? We don’t care how you do it, just make it work.


Tall order. Marshall is driving up I-79 on Saturday smelling blood with a two-game winning streak. Auburn is going to hammer the team on national television. In the Big East, Greg Schiano will have the Knights chopping wood on a crusade. Louisville will be throwing over our team's heads. And Pitt and South Florida...I don’t even want to think about it.


This is no longer a foregone Big East championship and a BCS bowl. This is a fight for every game, one at a time. It all remains to be seen, but I do know one thing: the Thundering Herd is packing the bus.