West Virginia Football: How to Right the Ship

By Harrison Turkheimer

As a West Virginia University alumnus, I have always voiced my opinion on the state of the Mountaineer Nation. Even as an undergrad, our student population was always very well known to open their mouths and truly speak their mind. Now as a momentum building win is well behind us (Saturday at home vs. Oklahoma State), it’s time to look at the big picture, the state of the Mountaineers, the Big 12 and where to go from here.

I’ll admit I was spoiled as an undergrad. Four years, the “glory days” of WVU football, shocking the world against University of Georgia in the  Sugar Bowl and overcoming adversity against University of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Two years of down double digits at half and winning the other two respected bowls (Car Care Bowl and Gator Bowl). Those days of Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt are long gone. So are the days of going undefeated in the former Big East Conference, having Thursday night gold rush games on national TV (not noon on ESPN) and being in talks about BCS national title and Heisman trophies. Athletic Director Oliver Luck, a WVU man (yes father to Andrew Luck) knew the future had to be moving to the Big 12 looking at the big picture. My issue is what came after that with the travel the team endures and the schedule the team does face with the recruiting (or rather lack thereof) to back it all up against the likes of the University of Texas. Don’t’ get me wrong, the hiring of Coach Dana Holgorsen was a great and needed move, but can WVU build on this momentum?

Everyone that follows West Virginia knows about last year starting 5-0, Geno Smith in talks with the Heisman and BCS chatter like the days of White and Slaton. But a lack of defense and forced errors landed the team in a snowy messy Pinstripe Bowl where it just couldn’t get things together. Now past the quarter mark of the 2013 campaign, I open the floor to my readers: Where does WVU go from here?  A winnable game in Norman, Oklahoma slipped through the team’s fingers, a joke against the University of Maryland, and where do the winnable games the team just blow it STOP?! It started Saturday night on the road, “deep in the heart of Texas” when the Mountaineers take on the Baylor University Bears. A team that hasn’t had their identity since Robert Griffin III left for the nation’s capital.

Listen Mountaineer faithful: This team has a defense it didn’t have last year. Although a QB carousel, Clint Trickett is the guy (ask any one, I said day one he should be the starter). I think people also forget that the Mountaineers have an NFL-ready running back. It’s to use what the Mountaineers are really made of to build on the tradition of the past and look towards a bowl this season. Go look at CBS College Sports or ESPN; neither have the Mountaineers even making a bowl game! This Mountaineer team is one that can really put the pressure on, believe it! Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State are the next three games on the docket, and they are all winnable and realistic games. Go out there and show this nation, the Big 12 and the Mountaineer faithful what this team should be about.

The rumors of Dana leaving for the University of Texas or any other job can keep swirling. I believe that whomever is the right man for WVU will be there until the end. After going through all the experiences and heartbreak of Rich Rodriguez and the years of the late Coach Bill Stewart, this team has had its ups and downs. But with a national spotlight so close within reach its time to grab that light again and shine it on the Old Gold and Blue. Show the nation that West Virginia is not just a bunch of coach burning wild-men. It’s a classy team that knows how to win games in crunch time and get back on track.  The University has this 20-20 vision to build its credibility, and I look at you, the athletic department, as the first piece to that puzzle. We all want nothing more than great things for Morgantown, but it starts at the Coliseum. It starts at Milan; it starts with you !

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