Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 28, 2013

Rigg gets chance to finish career on the field

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BECKLEY — The image of Doug Rigg lying motionless on the grass surface at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., is one Mountaineer fans won't soon forget.

Luckily, the Sept. 7 injury, which caused the senior linebacker to be taken from the field immediately to a local hospital, looked a lot worse than it really was.

Rigg was able to fly back to Morgantown with the team, and he immediately took to Twitter and Facebook, thanking fans of both the Mountaineers and Sooners for their concern and support. He returned to the lineup two games later on the road at Maryland.

But the season was never the same after that collision with teammate Karl Joseph that caused Rigg to lose consciousness in the second half of WVU's 16-7 loss to OU in the second game of the year.

Rigg wasn't quite himself immediately upon his return, and it took a couple of games to get back in the flow. He was just getting comfortable again when a second concussion occurred during the Mountaineers' 37-27 loss to Texas Tech in Morgantown. Rigg sat out the next game at Kansas State, watching helplessly as his team fell 35-12 to the Wildcats. He returned to the field for a few snaps in WVU's 30-27 overtime win at TCU, but he quickly realized he wasn't ready.

It was at that point, with just three games remaining on the schedule, that WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen declared Rigg's career as likely over.

It wasn't exactly a storybook ending for the career of the Oradell, N.J., native, who made an immediate impact upon his arrival in Morgantown in 2010 and will long be remembered for forcing the Clemson fumble in the 2012 Orange Bowl that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by Darwin Cook.

"I feel bad for him," Holgorsen said at the time. "He has been productive for us this year. On a positive note, he has had the opportunity to play.

“He had the opportunity to play Big 12 football his senior year. It did not work out, but he tried."

After sitting out the losses to Texas and Kansas, as well as a week off, though, Rigg has been cleared to play Saturday when WVU (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) hosts Iowa State (2-9, 1-7 Big 12) in a 4 p.m. regular season finale that will air live on Fox Sports 1.

Holgorsen first made the surprise announcement at his Tuesday press conference.

Rigg said he's been honest with trainers and coaches — realizing that his longterm health is more important than one football game — but with the doctors' approval, he's ready for one last opportunity to play the game he loves.

"I told them I'm going to be honest with them," said the 6-foot-1, 237-pound exercise physiology major. "If I felt something,

“I was going to tell them immediately. It wasn't something I was going to play around with. It's my last game here, so it would mean a lot for me to play."

Although there's nothing on the line Saturday — with a bowl trip already out of the picture — Rigg said it's still important for the Mountaineers to finish with a victory.

"It would mean a lot to go out on a good note," he said. "Obviously, the Kansas loss doesn't look good. We want to got out with a win.

"We don't want to lose to back-to-back teams at the bottom of the Big 12. We want to got out with a win and bring momentum going into the season next year."