As the days tick down to the last few of 2011, we decided it was a good time to reflect on the past year and the major events that happened in and around WVU athletics. Has there ever been a year as eventful or drama filled as 2011?
Beer Sales at Milan Puskar Stadium
Oliver Luck created a buzz and lots of public negative reaction when he announced that WVU would sell beer at Mountaineer football games in conjunction with ending the halftime pass-out policy. Over a half million dollars of revenue and an estimated 25% reduction in alcohol incidents later, the beer sales are a resounding success for the Athletic Department.
Basketball Practice Facility Nears Completion
Bob Huggins has stressed, basically since the time he returned to his alma mater, that WVU needed a state-of-the-art basketball practice facility. Yes, he wanted it as a recruiting tool, but the logistics of the Coliseum being used for multiple sports, as well as a classroom facility made it a necessity. As the building nears its completion (see Facebook galleries HERE, HERE and HERE), there is no doubt this will be a showcase for Mountaineer basketball (both men's and women's) for years to come, making schools like UConn envious.
ESPN Gameday comes to Morgantown for the LSU game
On the day of the biggest game on the 2011 WVU football schedule, ESPN brought Erin Andrews, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the rest of the Gameday crew to Morgantown for the first time to broadcast their weekly preview show live from the Mountainlair Plaza. On a gorgeous fall day full of what was the most epic tailgating that I've witnessed, this was a perfect way to start the day and showcase WVU at a time when its conference future was at possibly its most tenuous.
Holgorsen Casino Incident/Stewmageddon/Holgorsen Promoted Early
Mid May sped up the beginning of the end of the Bill Stewart era in Mountaineer football. Then Offensive Coordinator, Dana Holgorsen was escorted from a Cross Lanes casino following a University function. The ensuing weeks brought more allegations of inappropriate behavior. This came to a head when Bill Stewart was alleged to have been the source of many of the allegations creating a shitstorm surrounding the football program. Oliver Luck, attempting to stabilize the program, accepted Stewart's ensuing "resignation" and promoted Dana Holgorsen to Head Coach of the Mountaineers a season ahead of schedule.
While these were all huge stories in and of themselves, there was one development regarding WVU athletics that trumped them all:
Bye Bye Big East, Hello Big 12
Once Texas A&M made their jump the SEC official, everyone was wondering who would join them as the 14th member to balance the conference. This only intensified when Pitt and Syracuse announced their intention to leave the Big East for the ACC just before WVU's football game with Maryland. Eventually, people realized that WVU wasn't such a far fetched option, which led to over a month of speculation and rumor spreading (Missouri wound up being the SEC's choice). Enter Chuck Neinas and the Big 12. After a false start when Kentucky Senator McConnell from Louisville made a last ditch effort to secure the bid for UL and some political maneuvering by West Virginia's Senators, WVU officially accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 on October 28th.
Now, about those lawsuits...
[h/t to Nick Arthur of the DA for the inspiration behind this post]