Posted by John Antonik on Tuesday, June 2, 2009
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I can remember a time when I used to rush to the supermarket to scan the college football previews that began invading the magazine shelves in early June.
My two favorites were always Street & Smith’s and Sporting News. I was usually able to get through most of the pertinent information before the store owner demanded that I buy it.
The first thing I looked at was the cover to see who was on it (usually someone from USC, Oklahoma or Ohio State).
Then I headed straight for the Eastern Preview to see which teams would be placed behind Penn State and Pitt. After that, I checked out the All-America teams before wrapping up with the top 100 high school prospects for the coming year.
Of course today the Internet has taken a lot of the buzz out of these magazines. Most of the information in them is dated.
For instance, The Sporting News is counting on big things from Colorado junior wide receiver Josh Smith, whose 1,987 all-purpose yards were the second most in school history.
If you recall, Smith was the guy Bill Stewart talked about all week trying to figure out a way that his kickoff team could keep Smith out of the end zone. As it turned out WVU succeeded in doing that, but Smith did catch one of Cody Hawkins’ two touchdown passes in Colorado’s 17-14 overtime win.
Last week, Colorado announced that Smith is transferring to either Arizona State or USC where he can simultaneously pursue a rapping career.
Most of the surveys the schools fill out for these magazines are done right after signing day in February so the magazines can make their early summer deadlines.
Keeping that in mind, here are some tidbits from the three previews Football SID Mike Montoro dropped on my desk yesterday.
West Virginia is picked to finish second in the Big East behind rival Pitt. The Mountaineers failed to make the preseason Top 25 and did not have any players mentioned on the three preseason All-America teams. The Sporting News “Professor” gives West Virginia a B+, citing experience on defense and a strong running game as plusses, with a “green offensive line potentially being the team’s downfall.”
Running back Noel Devine gets second billing on the regional cover underneath Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark.
West Virginia is predicted to finish second in the Big East behind defending league champion Cincinnati. Athlon has West Virginia playing key games against Auburn on Sept. 19, against South Florida on Oct. 30, against Cincinnati on Nov. 13 and against Pitt on Nov. 27.
Noel Devine is listed as a Heisman Trophy “long shot”, West Virginia was mentioned in its Top 10 Quarterback Battles, linebacker Reed Williams was one of 10 key players returning from injury and the Mountaineers were ranked just outside of the Top 25 at 29th. Bill Stewart ranked 13th among the 18 new coaches of 2008, and Stewart’s first full recruiting class in 2009 was ranked 22nd in the nation and No. 1 in the Big East.
Athlon also has a two-page story on the history of the Backyard Brawl.
Noel Devine is on the cover with the headline “Simply Devine.”
Phil Steele’s College Football Preview
West Virginia is predicted to finish fourth in the Big East behind Rutgers, Pitt and South Florida. Noel Devine is listed on the All-America third team and is the 10th-rated running back in the country. Other Mountaineer players ranked among the nation’s best include:
QB, Jarrett Brown, 18th
WR, Jock Sanders, 49th
C, Eric Jobe, 44th
DT, Scooter Berry, 19th
OLB, Reed Williams, 65th
SS, Sidney Glover, 31st
Phil Steele also rates the top units in the country:
Running Backs, West Virginia 11th
Defensive Line, West Virginia, 32nd
Linebackers, West Virginia, 30th
The magazine has the Mountaineers ranked 37th and projects them to face Akron in the 2010 International Bowl.
Devine shares the regional cover with Penn State’s Sean Lee and Virginia Tech’s Jason Worilds.
College baseball has now moved on to the Super Regionals where Louisville is the lone Big East representative. The sport does not have an NIT but a mock baseball NIT was recently selected by SEBaseball.com and it had West Virginia in its fictitious 64-team field as a No. 2 seed in the Lexington Regional.
Ex-Mountaineer D’or Fischer’s 19 points and 11 rebounds recently helped Tel Aviv defeat Maccabi Haifa to capture the Israeli professional championships.
The Big East Conference has announced its repeat opponents for women’s basketball and, surprise surprise, the Mountaineers will be facing Pitt twice in 2010. West Virginia’s conference home opponents will be DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova.
WVU will face Cincinnati, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John’s, USF and Syracuse on the road.
Michigan and Ohio State, in a joint announcement last week, revealed that it will no longer print media guides in an effort to cut costs. The two schools estimate it will save approximately $250,000 from the measure.
Wisconsin later announced it would do likewise, and other schools will likely consider it.
In reality, the $250,000 Ohio State is saving is a drop in the bucket at a school with an athletic budget of roughly $110 million.
Now if Ohio State and Michigan are really serious about getting a handle on out-of-control spending ...
Director of Basketball Operations Jerrod Calhoun said there are just three spots remaining for this year’s Bob Huggins Fantasy Camp that is slated to begin this weekend. According to Calhoun, they will accept campers up through Thursday afternoon. Those interested in enrolling can do so by contacting the Mountaineer Basketball Office at (304) 293-2193.
Calhoun said Mountaineer basketball greats Jerry West, Hot Rod Hundley and Joe Alexander are among those scheduled to return to campus for the fantasy camp. Former Huggins players Danny Fortson and Nick Van Exel will also be in town.
As for West Virginia’s other camps, Calhoun said there are plenty of spots available for the individual camps being held June 14-17 and July 26-29, as well as the team camp taking place August 10-13.
“The economy is really hurting the camp business this year,” Calhoun said. “All across the country camp numbers are down.”
Jerry West was recently named executive director of the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open, formerly known as the Los Angeles Open. This year’s event will once again be held at the Riviera Country Club. West also recently celebrated his 71st birthday.
Former WVU soccer coach Greg Myers, who led the Mountaineers to Southern Conference titles in 1965 and 1966, was recently named athletic director at Davis & Elkins College. The 71-year-old Myers won more than 330 matches during 37 seasons patrolling the sidelines, including a 20-7-1 mark at WVU.
If Lane Kiffin wanted to create a buzz heading into his first season at Tennessee, well, mission accomplished. It has now gotten to the point that SEC commissioner Mike Slive is demanding that the league’s coaches put an end to the public bickering.
It will be interesting to see how long Kiffin, Saban, Spurrier and the gang will be able to smoke their peace pipes.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown stopped by the office this afternoon. He said strength coach Mike Joseph’s summer program is already cranked up to full throttle. Brown certainly looks the part. I guessed his weight at 220.
“Nope, 222,” he said.
Brown said he will begin organizing the team’s summer passing league starting next week.
In the span of 15 minutes we also had two Hall of Famers visit the WVU Sports Communications Office today: former coach Don Nehlen and quarterback Fred Wyant.
Wyant, wearing a knee sleeve, looked like he could still run the option.
Here is an example of how great coaches think alike. I ran across a comment the late Lee Patton once made about his coaching philosophy that he learned from legendary St. John's coach Joe Lapchick.
Lapchick once pulled Patton aside and told him that it was easy to coach five players who wanted to score 50 points in a game. The secret, however, is finding five players who want to keep the other team from scoring 50.
Isn't that what West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has made a career out of doing?
Truck Bryant was mentioned in Andy Katz’s blog on ESPN.com last week. Katz had capsules on the 15 players trying out for USA Basketball’s U-19 team being coached by Pitt’s Jamie Dixon.
Wrote Katz: “Joe Mazzulla is indefinitely suspended and that means Bryant, who played significant minutes last season at the point, will be asked to do even more at the position. The Mountaineers are expected to challenge Villanova for the Big East title. Whether or not that happens could depend a lot on how Bryant runs the team. Making this squad could go a long way toward enhancing his confidence.”
Speaking of Bryant, I was joking with him in Coliseum hallway the other day that there is no way Dixon would cut him from the U-19 team and then have to face him at least six more times over a span of three years in the Backyard Brawl.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Da'Sean Butler will also be in Colorado Springs at the same time Bryant is trying out for the U-19 team. Butler is one of 16 players who accepted invitations to try out for USA Basketball’s 12-member team that will play in the World University Games July 2-12 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Former West Virginia coach John Beilein will be reunited with Butler in Colorado Springs. Beilein has been selected as one of six court coaches during the team selection process where he will help run team drills, practices and scrimmages for the three-day training camp.
Also representing West Virginia University in the World Games is incoming 6-foot-9 freshman forward Deniz Kilici who is playing for his native Turkey.
Have a great week!