Too often, we hear that "winning is everything." Well, that's only partly true. Winning, of course, is a big part of the equation, easily the biggest part. Without wins, no football program is going to be successful, period. But, when you're a fairly successful but not quite elite program like West Virginia, style points matter.
Of course, we have a head coach who currently does not believe in style points, and is willing to spend upwards of 5 minutes in a press conference expounding on his beliefs. I understand his point, that winning should be enough. And it's not that he's being completely foolish in his belief, it's just that he's not seeing the big picture. There are more ingredients to a successful West Virginia Program than just winning, or better yet, there are more ingredients to winning long-term than simply winning short-term.
Why? Style points accomplish certain objectives that facilitate future winning. They're not two separate concepts. Style allows for a better chance at winning at points in the future. It generates buzz, makes fans feel better about the program, and overall improves the prospects of WVU football long-term. It's not just fluff, I promise. Style points can have tangible results, especially in the following areas:
Note: there's more to read after the jump...
TV exposure: Remember back in 2006 when the Big East was on fire? WVU, Louisville, and Rutgers all had explosive offenses and were playing near great games every week. ESPN and the national media couldn't shut up about the Big East. It's because we had guys like White, Slaton, Rice, Brohm, Urrutia, etc. There were a ton of weapons. Well, WVU still has a lot of weapons like that, with Geno, Noel, and Tavon trying to pick up that torch and run with it. We just have to let them run with it. "Style points," or winning big and with flair, gets us that national exposure that a less than elite program like WVU craves. Getting on TV, the front page of websites, or more articles in major sports sections, and the WVU image gets bigger and better.
Recruiting: There is a lot of competition these days for the attention of your average high school student. Facebook, Twitter, cocaine -- it's a lot different than when you and I went to school. Still, these kids are impressionable, and an attractive brand of football is going to catch their eye. Big wins are going to catch their eye. Essentially, anything shiny is going to catch their eye. Now, you need substance (AKA wins). Fake chrome wheels on a shit program isn't going to work. But if you can win games and look good doing it, then recruiting those 16-18 year old kids is going to be a lot easier.
- Fundraising: Happy fans are giving fans. When a fan is content about the direction of the program, they're more likely to give money to said program. While you obviously can't please everyone, putting a bunch of points in beautiful fashion usually makes for a happy fanbase. A happy fanbase that is going to turn around and cut the Mountaineer Athletic Club a bigger annual check. That means better facilities and an ultimately better program.
So, when you hear Bill Stewart talk about style points, hope that he's simply being defensive about recent criticism. Hope that, deep down, he knows that style points may actually matter. Because they do, and it will be in the best interests of Mountaineer football to come to that conclusion sooner rather than later.