Posted by John Antonik on Thursday, December 3, 2009
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:
1. Pitt, 1975 (17-14)
2. California, 1975 (28-10)
3. Syracuse, 1970 (28-19)
4. Maryland, 1973 (20-13)
5. Illinois, 1973 (17-10)
6. SMU, 1975 (28-22)
7. Miami, 1973 (20-14)
8. Pitt, 1972 (38-20)
9. Boston College, 1971 (45-14)
10. Virginia Tech, 1974 (22-21)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Wearing the Jersey: Kaja Mrgole
Women's Basketball: Texas Postgame
Baseball: Ball State Postgame
Women's Basketball: Texas Pregame
United Bank Playbook: Baylor
Gymnastics: Pitt Preview