Once a Mountaineer, ALWAYS a Mountaineer. It's a philosophy WVU players and fans live by and a time-honored tradition. Bruce Irvin was seen on the sidelines shouting "WV all day!" during Sunday's Seattle Seahawks win over the New York Jets. Owen Schmitt, Pat White, Chris Neild, and countless other former WVU standouts tweet about the University where they entertained thousands of Mountaineer fans on fall Saturday afternoons. And each one of them, at one point or another, faced adversity in their careers. The one thing none of them did while wearing the Old Gold and Blue was quit.
Last week, Travares Copeland decided to leave the team for "personal reasons" which are believed to be his family. I will never criticize another person for taking care of family first. It's what you do as a human being. In fact, I wish the young man nothing but the best in his future endeavors. That being said, he was a freshman who had his redshirt status burned in the hopes of providing a spark to a sputtering WVU offense. In his three games, he provided 10 catches for 55 yards. No one knows how good he could have been in this system, and it's a shame we won't see what might have been.
Unlike Copeland, Ivan McCartney was a junior and the fifth most productive wide receiver on the team with 9 catches for 112 yards, While never truly living up to fans and coaches expectations coming out of Miramar High School in Florida, McCartney officially left the team three games before the end of the season. "Personal reasons" are also cited for his exit, but the body language of Dana Holgorsen says otherwise. In fact, when asked about McCartney:
Holgorsen became irritated with the line of questioning and followed that up with, "Why do you care? I am worried about the guys who are here and want to play. There are a lot more things to worry about than one person."
To me, this speaks volumes about the actual situation. If McCartney was truly having "personal issues," I would expect the Head Coach to be a little more forgiving with his language. I am far from a football guru, so if a coach suggests someone isn't giving 100% on the field or in practice, I tend to believe them. And, if that's the case, I hope McCartney eventually takes a hard look in the mirror and realizes that life isn't easy. Not everything will go your way, and it's how you deal with adversity that defines you as a person.
Conspiracy theorists will likely suggest that something is going on behind closed doors for these players to quit. Rumors have begun circulating that other players are also leaving. I will not mention any by name until something is official. That being said, if anyone else wants to join Copeland and McCartney, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Sure, it might make winning the remaining three games more difficult if other players follow suit, but I would rather take that chance than have someone go less than 100% for my Alma Mater.
For the time being, I will keep my faith in the coaching staff righting the ship. Every coaching transition comes with player attrition. Not everyone is made for every coach or scheme and anyone who doesn't want to be here SHOULD leave. It isn't healthy for them or for the team to stay.
It also isn't hard to look at this team and realize that something is wrong. The players have lost the swagger that so many fans had longed to see since White, Slaton, and Schmitt padded up for WVU. What none of us, as fans, have expected to see, is a team that gives up. West Virginia takes pride in being a blue collar state, known for working hard and partying harder. When players no longer want to compete for our school, then perhaps the exit is the best route for them to take. While many of these players will take with them a valuable life lesson in adversity, what they won't take with them is the title of Mountaineer.
In my book, you have to finish what you started to earn that title. Being a Mountaineer is more than attending the University, it's about the ability to stare down adversity and persevere. After four losses in a row, and Oklahoma looming on Saturday, there is plenty of that to go around. Will the Mountaineers rise to the occasion? Only time will tell. While some of our players have quit on this team, I'll never quit supporting them. Anyone who does can check their Mountaineer card at the door. We don't need you dragging us down.
It's Oklahoma week, so Let's GO!