Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Sports column

October 21, 2013

Column: WVU has winnable games ahead

— A few days ago our colleague Cam Huffman wrote that the West Virginia University football season has been a roller coaster with all the ups and downs.

WVU looked terrible two weeks ago against Baylor and there were questions if this team could win any games other than possibly Iowa State and Kansas. However, after a slow start against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, the Mountaineers used a bend-but-don’t break defense and a potent ground game and led through three quarters against the nation’s 15th-ranked team.

After failing to score on its first three possessions, WVU scored the next five times it got the ball and took a 27-13 lead late in the third period.

In the end, however, Texas Tech scored when they had to and claimed the 37-27 win to remain undefeated on the season and atop the Big 12 conference, along with Texas.

West Virginia is now 1-3 in conference play and has winnable road games the next two weeks at Kansas State and TCU before returning home to play Texas. The season ends with Iowa State coming to Mountaineer Field and the finale at Kansas.

The rollercoaster, however continues for WVU as they are competitive and play well at home and on the road they seem not to get off the bus. It will be interesting the next two weeks to see what happens.

• • •

Reports in both the Lone Star and Mountain states indicate Oliver Luck is interviewing for the athletic director position at Texas. Deloss Dodds is retiring and Luck is considered one of the top candidates.

Speaking to Luck last week in Princeton at the announcement of the Mountaineers playing Virginia Tech at Hunnicutt Field this coming May in baseball, I asked if he could comment on those reports. He smiled and said, “No, I’d rather not, I’m sorry.”

There are many Luck bashers in the Mountaineer nation, critical of the decision to join the Big 12, upset with the football coaching situation involving Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen, angry with the decision to build a new baseball stadium.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but where are those same critics when it was announced that the WVU athletic department finished the latest fiscal year with more than a $4 million surplus?

What would those same critics be saying if instead of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State coming to Mountaineer Field for conference games, visiting conference foes would be Memphis, SMU, Houston and UConn?

What if in future years West Virginia’s best hope for a bowl game were on a cricket field in the Bahamas? Yes, the American Athletic Conference will have a bowl game in the Bahamas beginning next year.

Stop the bellyaching about traveling to road games. Other than Pitt, the overwhelming majority of WVU fans on the road are from the areas in which the games were held.

You did not have a lot of people driving from within the state to UConn, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville or Syracuse. I’ve been there as a fan and media member. You had a few, but most were people from the area in which the game was being played.

Luck has moved West Virginia athletics to a level where it can be on the national stage and a potential player. That would not be the case if the Mountaineers had remained in what is now the AAC.

If Luck does take over at Texas, West Virginia will have an ally in Austin and that can only help in the future as the Big 12 looks to expansion.

*****

Bob Redd is a Bluefield Daily Telegraph sports writer.

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