Campus Connection

  • December 03, 2009 11:21 AM
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Posted by John Antonik on Thursday, December 3, 2009
(11:21 am)

  Bobby Bowden works the West Virginia sideline during a game against Virginia Tech in Morgantown in 1975.
WVU Photographic Services

I bumped into Garrett Ford upstairs in the hallway Tuesday afternoon and we began talking about Bobby Bowden’s impending retirement at Florida State.

By then, the news was beginning to leak that Bowden was going to call it quits after 34 years coaching the Seminoles. Ford was a member of Bowden’s first coaching staff at WVU in 1970.

After talking to Ford, I began to count up the department members still around from the Bowden years at WVU.

Here is the list I came up with: Joyce Bucklew, Garrett Ford, Eleanor Lamb, Gary McPherson, Ed Pastilong, Ruby Shrout, Dixie Sisler and Donnie Young.

Deputy Athletic Director Mike Parsons was a student in the sports communications office along with WVU Alumni Association President and CEO Steve Douglas.

Steve Dunlap was a linebacker on Bowden’s 1975 Peach Bowl team while Doc Holliday was a Bowden recruit.

And Bill Stewart was on the freshman team when Bowden took over the West Virginia program in 1970.

Joyce Bucklew says she has two distinct memories of Bowden. One is a picture taken of the coach and her young son Timmy with the Frisbee dog Rebel. The other is the stuffed dummy of Bowden that was hanging from the trees in Woodburn Circle.

Maintenance worker Ralph Kennedy was asked to take the dummy down before the start of classes on Monday morning and actually brought it to the stadium where Bucklew was working.

“You could tell they spent a lot of time working on this,” laughed Bucklew. “It had the gold helmet with the state painted on it and it was all stuffed up. I ended up taking it home for my son.”

After three moves, Bucklew is not sure if she still has the Bowden dummy or not.


People always seem to enjoy Top 10 lists so I thought it would be interesting to come up with Bobby Bowden’s 10 biggest wins at West Virginia.

Here are my 10 best Bowden wins at WVU:

  Fans celebrate Bill McKenzie's game-winning kick against Pitt in 1975.
WVU Photographic Services

1. Pitt, 1975 (17-14)
West Virginia’s 17-14 victory over Pitt was one of the great victories in school history. It took place in Morgantown on Nov. 8, 1975 – which also happened to be Bowden’s 46th birthday. The details have now become permanently etched into Mountaineer lore: the Kendra-to-Swinson pass along the sideline that set up walk-on Bill McKenzie’s 38-yard game-winning field goal. It was just the second field goal McKenzie had made that season. To this day Bowden considers the Pitt victory one of the most exciting of his coaching career.

2. California, 1975 (28-10)
Fullback Heywood Smith emerged as an unlikely hero for the Mountaineers when offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti put in a misdirection play to throw off the California linebackers that were keying the pulling guards. That adjustment helped Smith to a career-high 146-yard rushing performance. However, the key play in the game came with 13 minutes remaining and West Virginia leading 14-10. Chuck Muncie’s halfback pass to 9.4 speedster Wesley Walker appeared to be a certain touchdown. But chasing Walker was safety Tom Pridemore, who somehow managed to catch him from behind at the 16. The Mountaineer defense held Cal without giving up any points, and the offense scored a pair of late TDs to pull out a 28-10 victory.

3. Syracuse, 1970 (28-19)
On the same day of the tragic Marshall plane crash as the team was returning from a game at East Carolina, West Virginia defeated a fired-up Syracuse team, 28-19, in Morgantown. Mike Sherwood threw three touchdown passes and linebacker Dale Farley made a late interception to set up WVU’s game-sealing touchdown. Syracuse, which came into the game with five straight wins over Maryland, Penn State, Navy, Pitt and Army, was the biggest and most physical team West Virginia faced that year. It was also the first time West Virginia had ever won three straight times against Ben Schwartzwalder-coached teams.

4. Maryland, 1973 (20-13)
Maryland, which lost to Georgia in the Peach Bowl later that season, managed just 54 yards passing and 175 yards of offense against Chuck Klausing’s defense. WVU got a big touchdown when Dwayne Woods stepped in front of an Ade Dillon pass that was intended for Danny Buggs, and he raced 75 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 13. Then, with only 32 seconds left on the clock, Maryland was forced to punt to Buggs, who zigzagged his way for 69 yards and the game-winning score.

5. Illinois, 1973 (17-10)
Danny Buggs once again provided some late-game heroics for West Virginia, this time on a double move to get behind aggressive Illini corner Mike Gow for a 55-yard touchdown with 3:25 left in the game that lifted West Virginia to a 17-10 victory. Ade Dillon had his best day as a passer for the Mountaineers, completing 12 of 24 for 231 yards and a touchdown. Middle guard Jeff Merrow made 18 tackles despite being double and tripled teamed. The win gave West Virginia a 3-0 record and put it back into the national rankings at No. 20.

6. SMU, 1975 (28-22)
Eleventh-ranked West Virginia used a powerful running game that churned out 408 yards on the ground while also overcoming six turnovers against the Mustangs. Artie Owens ran for 171 yards on 19 carries and Dwayne Woods, a late edition to the travel roster, added 103 yards and three scores to lead the Mountaineers to a 28-22 victory. Woods had been suspended by Bowden for skipping a practice to spend an extra day in Bluefield with his ailing father. Owens was named UPI and Sports Illustrated “Back of the Week” for his 171-yard performance.

7. Miami, 1973 (20-14)
A 3-0 start to the 1973 season had turned into a 3-4 record after consecutive losses to Indiana, Pitt, Richmond and Penn State put Mountaineer fans in a foul mood. West Virginia’s 62-14 defeat at Penn State (Bowden’s worst loss as a college coach) was the game when John Cappelletti famously promised that he would score four touchdowns for his dying kid brother Joey. Against Miami, West Virginia needed a goal line stand and a late touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ben Williams to Marshall Mills to upset the Hurricanes 20-14 in the Orange Bowl. Back at the hotel after the game, the players pushed all of the assistant coaches into the pool. Then they went after Bowden, who calmly took off his watch and shoes, emptied his pockets, and jumped in. As a side note, defensive coordinator Chuck Klausing managed to secretly swing a deal with the Miami Dolphins equipment manager to “borrow” some of the Dolphins’ turf shoes to help the players get better traction on the slick Orange Bowl turf. It worked.

8. Pitt, 1972 (38-20)
This was Bowden’s first trip back to the scene of the crime in Pitt Stadium two years after his West Virginia team blew a 35-8 halftime lead and lost 36-35 to the Panthers in 1970. A replay of 1970 was beginning to materialize when West Virginia’s big first half lead was cut to 11 at the beginning of the second half. But Bowden, learning a valuable lesson in the ’70 loss to Pitt, chose to throw caution to the wind instead of playing it conservatively. The result was a Bernie Galiffa 51-yard pass to Buggs that got West Virginia out of a deep hole and eventually led to the Mountaineers’ final touchdown in a 38-20 victory. Asked after the game if he thought it was a little risky throwing a long pass deep in Pitt territory, Bowden immediately brought up the ’70 Pitt game. Never again would he sit on a lead.

9. Boston College, 1971 (45-14)
Boston College was coming off its best season in 32 years with an 8-2 record in 1970, and the Eagles had 32 lettermen returning when they faced West Virginia in the ’71 season opener in Morgantown. Wet playing conditions helped the Mountaineers score 28 second-half points on the way to a resounding 45-14 victory. Boston College kept hearing rumors before the game that Pete Wood was hurt and was not going to be able to play. He did play and wound up rushing for a career-high 214 yards on 24 carries.

10. Virginia Tech, 1974 (22-21)
This may not have been a big game to West Virginians, but it was probably one of the biggest games in Bobby Bowden’s long coaching career. His team was 3-7 and Bowden was under a lot of pressure to win. Years later, Bowden admitted that it was the only time that he thought his job might have been riding on the outcome of a game. Two long scoring plays by Marcus Mauney and Artie Owens gave the Mountaineers a third quarter lead before Virginia Tech rallied. Freshman quarterback Dan Kendra then engineered a late touchdown and two-point conversion to give WVU a narrow 22-21 lead with 1:28 remaining. After downing a squib kick at its own 34, Virginia Tech was the beneficiary of three straight 15-yard penalties. The third one was flagged on Bowden for walking out onto the field to protest the previous two calls. “I was mad,” Bowden said years later. “I went out on the field and let the official have it.” Tech had two tries at a game winning field goal – the first one was blocked by Charlie Miller but was waved off because of a procedure penalty by the Hokies. The second try didn’t come within 20 feet of the goal posts. “Poetic justice,” said Bowden.


There has been unprecedented demand this year for men’s basketball tickets, according to WVU Sports Marketing Director Matt Wells. No. 7-rated West Virginia has already set a season-ticket sales record for the fifth straight year, and today sales have ceased for both mini packages after nearly a combined 2,000 packages were sold.

There are single-game tickets still remaining for each of the nine conference home games, as well as the non-conference games in December.

Tickets can be ordered online through WVUGAME.com.

West Virginia has an excellent shot of breaking the single-season attendance record set in 1982 with an average of 11,384 fans per game.


  Jedd Gyroko

Assistant equipment manager Steve Bierer forwarded me one mock draft he found on the Internet that had West Virginia’s Jedd Gyorko going 21st overall in the first round of the 2010 Major League Draft. Gyorko was recently rated the 19th best prospect in the Cape Cod League by ESPN’s Keith Law.

Gyorko will be a junior for the Mountaineers this year.

Speaking of draft lists, CBS Sports has Selvish Capers fifth on its NFL draft list for offensive tackles. Presently Capers is projected as a second-round pick.

“I’ve been in this a long time and I’ve had first-round draft picks and I’ve had guys that I thought were first-round picks not even get drafted,” said offensive line coach Dave Johnson. "I really don’t know. Sometimes it puzzles me how guys are evaluated for the next level.

“For us, he’s a wonderful player, he’s a great kid and I think anybody that would want him or take him would do well,” Johnson said.


West Virginia has the No. 1 RPI in the country this week, according to Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com. The Mountaineers are also No. 1 in strength of schedule with games in the books already against Loyola, Citadel, Long Beach State, Texas A&M and Portland (The RPI took a little bit of a hit when Portland lost to Portland State last night).

On the women’s side, West Virginia (6-1) is near the top of the RPI rankings at No. 4 before Wednesday’s game against Radford. The WVU women already show victories over No. 53 Marist and No. 66 Iowa this year.


  Asya Bussie

The women’s basketball program may have a rising star in freshman center Asya Bussie, recently named MVP of the Nugget Classic in Reno, Nev. Bussie is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds per game before Wednesday night’s game against Radford, and Mountaineer Coach Mike Carey says Bussie is further ahead in her development right now than Olayinka Sanni was at the same point in her career.

Sanni is a backup center for the Tulsa franchise (formerly the Detroit Shock) in the WNBA.

Carey is also encouraged about his team after its performance out in Nevada. He said he has as many as five different scoring options this year.


We are saddened to learn of the death yesterday of Foge Fazio, Pitt’s football coach from 1982-85. Most recently Fazio was working as an analyst on the Panther radio network before poor health forced him to leave the booth following the Connecticut game on Oct. 10.

Fazio was 71.


Congratulations to West Virginia’s all-time leading rusher Avon Cobourne, who rushed for 85 yards and a TD - 66 coming in the second half - to help rally the Montreal Alouettes to a 28-27 Grey Cup win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday night.

Cobourne had 247 total yards for the game and finished the regular season with 1,214 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.


As of Thursday morning, the Big East is now a combined 89-12 in men’s basketball. All 16 teams have winning records including six that are undefeated. The Big East has seven teams ranked in this week’s AP poll.


  Greg Jones

Cael Sanderson brings his 15th-ranked Penn State wrestling team to the Coliseum for a dual match on Friday, Dec. 11. It is the first time Penn State has been to Morgantown since 2004.

Sanderson was a four-time NCAA champion with a 159-0 record during his career at Iowa State. Meanwhile, West Virginia assistant coach Greg Jones won three NCAA titles for the Mountaineers. Perhaps the two can hop on the mat for an exhibition before things get started. Now wouldn't that be something?

West Virginia-Penn State wrestling matches have historically drawn well and the Mountaineers are expecting a nice turnout next Friday.

Incidentally, you can watch the match live on MSNsportsNET.com.


Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen admitted Tuesday that there is a difference in the style of play between the Big East and the ACC, where he used to coach at Wake Forest.

"The thing I’ve come to find out about this league as opposed to the Atlantic Coast Conference is every team is physical,” said Mullen. “There are a lot of teams that are physical in the ACC but every team is physical in the Big East and every week you better bring it.”


Rutgers has always been known for its blitzing defenses under Greg Schiano, but last year the Scarlet Knights hardly blitzed at all against West Virginia.

“He flipped the script and didn’t bring hardly any,” said Mullen. “In normal down and distance situations, he decided to play the South Florida defense from ’07.”

Mullen said that will impact how he prepares for Rutgers this Saturday.

“You’ve got to look at what you’re getting on tape, play the numbers and prepare accordingly,” said Mullen.


  Dave Johnson

West Virginia’s five starting offensive linemen - Selvish Capers, Eric Jobe, Joey Madsen, Josh Jenkins and Donnie Barclay – have taken roughly 90 percent of the snaps this year. That is unheard of in the college game today.

“We’ve been pretty rough on them in practice, too,” said Mullen. “We get after them on Tuesday and there is no question the job that our training staff does keeping those guys pieced together … everybody in Division I football is playing with bumps and bruises but not everyone has had to play every snap of the season. I’m very proud of them and I’m very proud of their position coach Dave Johnson.”

“I don’t know that there are many benefits to having five guys play the whole season,” added Johnson, “but it is a necessity right now. It was something we had to do just because those are the guys we feel we can win with.

“We’ve got to develop some depth and develop some other guys and that’s going to take some time,” Johnson said.

Mullen said help is on the way next spring. West Virginia has managed to redshirt its entire freshman offensive line class and develop them together.

“One of the things with offensive line that is important is continuity and togetherness,” said Mullen. “It’s nice that they are going to be together for five years.

“What we’re trying to do is to build a program,” Mullen added. “Everybody wants to win here and now, and no question we do too and certainly we’re going to do what we need to do to do that, but the picture is program. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. You want continued success and I think being able to redshirt kids gives you the ability to have continued success.”

Have a great weekend!