I’m old. I mean like I went to games at old Mountaineer Field, old. You other 40-somethings in the room can put your hands down. I didn’t say I was dead, just old. Old enough to remember radio and newspapers being my only window into what was going on with WVU sports. I reminisce about those times because they were a golden age of WVU sports. John Denver sang Country Roads at the first game played at Mountaineer Field. This Don Nehlen guy seemed like he had a plan to turn the program around (he did). Gale Catlett was just hitting his stride with the basketball team. Everything was stable and drama free.
The past few weeks have been anything but drama free around here, though. But now that the dust has settled, I have to admit that I’m a little shocked at some of the things I’ve read in the print media. The first item is this article by Mickey Furfari. Before I get to the article, I have to remind you that I have a deep respect for Mickey and his dedication to covering Mountaineer sports for so many years. As much as anyone, save Jack Fleming, Mickey kept me informed about WVU sports. But, the idea that it will take years to regain the stability we enjoyed, in my mind, it's the furthest thing from the truth.
I would argue that we are on the way back up already. I think we all agree that the coach-in-waiting move was a bad one. But can you look back at the last three years, all the losses and near losses that we should have won going away and say the program wasn't on shaky ground? Nine wins a year should have been the minimum expectations. There was a couple tough out of conference games, but the rest should have been easy. Admit it, the Big East has sucked the past three years. And still we had to struggle just to get close to a Big East championship. Close, but no cigar. If there was a time of instability for the Mountaineer football program, it was the last three years.
It just seems that there are some inside and outside the state that want to demonize Holgorsen because he likes to drink and he's different. Or they are so rooted of the good old days that they can't change with the times. To that I would just ask, "Have you seen our basketball coach?" He's no angel, but he turned out okay didn't he?
What I want to look at next is an article by Berry Tramel. Without a shred of proof that there were any problems with Holgorsen, Tramel goes out of his way to suggest that Oklahoma St. got off lucky by only having Holgorsen around for one year. The whole thing smells of a message board rant more than it does an article by a respected journalist. It's basically a knife in the back of Holgorsen on his way out the door. Now if you're thinking to yourself, I know that name. I can't think where I've heard the name Berry Tramel before, but I've heard it. Maybe this will jog your memory:
"Message Boards are a weapon" (via markl20)
Yeah, maybe he's the Chuck Landon of the prairie. He's certainly not the Mickey Furfari of said prairie. But if you missed it, Spencer did a perfect piece on why you shouldn't be too judgmental of someone and their vices. It's not to say that there aren't problems that arise from drinking. I have a real problem with DUIs and violent behavior that results from drinking. Those are problems that need to be corrected because they aren't just self destructive. But, drinking by itself shouldn't be a reason to demonize someone. There's an endless list of great coaches and athletes that were known to enjoy the sauce.
We won't know if Dana Holgorsen is going to be a great coach or if he's going to fail until we know. And not matter how we got here, there's no question that change was necessary. What's important now is how he coaches the team; how he prepares them and how he motivates them.
You know, the things he's really really good at.