This game hurt. It hurt quite a lot. But it hurt because it mattered. And before you get too torn up about that first part, take a minute and think about that second part. Who thought a year ago Morgantown would be hosting it's biggest November game in a decade? Who thought ESPN's College GameDay would be making only it's second trip ever to Morgantown just 11 months after the program's lowest point in quite awhile, losing to Kansas and Iowa State in the same season?
Point is it while you're staring at the ceiling on Tuesday night wondering how the hell WVU gave away what would have been a top 10 all-time home win, try to remember that last year you were over these games by Saturday night. As the Lumineers would tell you "it's better to feel pain...than nothing at all...the opposite of love is indifference."
Well we are certainly not indifferent. And we love our Mountaineers. So let's do this....
But first how about some kids dressed up like ranting coaches to cheer us all up.
Wasn't that cute?
"WVU is the most underrated fan base in the country." - @KirkHerbstreit— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 1, 2014
GameDay could not possibly have gone better. Mountaineer fans came out in force and by the hosts own account were unusually numerous and rowdy. Sure "one of the best crowds ever" gets thrown around a lot, but you get the feeling these guys really meant it. Just two weeks after the school and city took a huge black eye with the post-Baylor scene, they acquitted selves exceedingly well for 3 hours of live TV. If you were out there the Retweet salutes you and I am extremely jealous.
@abpriddy I want you to eviscerate that face mask segment I just had to sit through on your Monday RT— Boote (@TjBooten) November 1, 2014
OK maybe if that had ended up on the editor's cutting room floor it could have gone better. But other than that it was perfect.
The GOAT. Let it out. pic.twitter.com/EKQ6QTkUNN— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) November 1, 2014
Then there was this. Corso getting emotional as they showed the montage to honor what would be his 250th headgear pick was special. And to understand how special travel back in time with me. They year was 1993 and WVU was putting together it's 11-0 season. GameDay would make its first trip to a college campus (not shockingly Notre Dame) later that season and the show was just coming into it's own. In studio the crew (then Fowler, Corso and Craig James) routinely minimized what an emergent Mountaineer squad was doing in the nascent Big East. They wanted to talk about Nebraska and Notre Dame and couldn't wait for Bobby Bowden to win his first title and all the while the pesky Mountaineers kept winning. Corso in particular was hard on WVU and I remember a late-season show where he dumped a pile of mail on his desk and said it was all the hate mail he was getting from WVU fans. It cemented Corso as a villain for many WVU fans around my age.
So if you had told 14 year-old Brandon that in 21 years Lee Corso would be crying in Morgantown he'd have been pretty damn happy about it. Not quite what that scrawny kid had in mind though.
Paisley dug at RichRod, started ESP chant, called Old Mountaineer Field a "craphole" that smelled like weed. Is he running for WV governor?— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) November 1, 2014
Paisley was freaking awesome. So many times the guest picker has been someone with either flimsy or no ties to the host school to where at best you get Katy Perry just being generally funny or at worst you get Kenny Chesney being blatantly opportunistic. It was so great to see someone who was a no-doubt-about-it-old-school-grudge-holding-ornery WVU fan. The "Eat Sh*t Pitt" incitement was fantastic, the reference to Old Mountaineer Field was genuine and the dig at Rich Rod was just red meat to the masses. When the Pitt / Duke game came up he defended his pick with "I just really hate Pitt."
Brad, you didn't give me a ride but that's OK, you brought your "A" game, brother.
My favorite scene from GameDay though might have been this clip that didn't make it on-air. Behold the majesty of "Eat Sh*t Caroline":
I counted 10 "eat sh*ts." That was a raucous crowd and the GameDay guys were loving it.
Lee Corso has won each of his last 10 Week 10 headgear selections. His last Week 10 loss came in 2002 when he picked Georgia over Florida.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 1, 2014
That's interesting. I think I'll file that away for later.
If you had asked me I would have bet $1,000 that Corso was going to go WVU. No way could he turn down the opportunity to don the coonskin cap and fire that Musket in Herbie's ear. And it was a good pick. The 'Eers were a 4 point home dog and what were the chances of TCU staying sharp on the heels of an 82 point effort. I was supremely confident that this man whom I had just seconds before decided to finally come around on after 20+ years was going to make his 250th headgear pick a memorable one for all the right reasons.
I take back every nice thing I said. Piss on Corso.
(I'm kidding. Kinda. I'm still salty.)
@abpriddy the Mountaineers pounding the rock is causing some major Patterson britches tugs.— John Sarrett (@JSarrett) November 1, 2014
Things could not have started better for WVU. No way. They drove down the field like a hot knife through butter. 7 runs, 3 passes including a beautiful drop-in-the-bucket throw to Mario Alford. Trickett was dealing and the offense was rolling. It always makes me nervous to get off to too fast a start, but 7 points is 7 points.
Three and out feels weird. WV came to play.— Frogs O' War (@FrogsOWar) November 1, 2014
And then the defense picked up right where it left off. Things were going very, very well.
"Get in that ass WVU. Walk in there, spray paint WVU was here. Eat some candy, some snickers, throw the wrappers on the floor"— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) November 1, 2014
Oh we were all up in that ass. All up in it. If TCU was a 50 year old man, we'd be the ones giving them a clean bill of health for the next 5 years.
When the Mountaineers got the ball back and the drive stalled at the 4 yard line you couldn't help but think that was an opportunity missed. BUT THEN THEY RECOVERED A FUMBLE RECOVERED A FUMBLE RECOVERED A FUMBLE. On special teams no less!
Got the ball, got the mo.....we're in business, baby!
That wasn't flagged as a personal foul.
First of all that was dirty as hell. The book on Clint Trickett is that he's small and he's not durable so every team he's faced has come in wanting to get a shot on him to knock him out. Fair enough, it ain't feelingsball. But that's a dirty play and TCU's #96 should have been flagged and kicked out of the game.
Fortunately the karma fairy who has essentially ignored the entire Florida St. Seminole program for the past 2 years was in the house and the offending Frog, Josh Carraway, would leave the game with an injury and not return. I hope the sonafabitch is lost for the season. Maybe that makes me a jerk. I don't care. Did I mention I'm still salty?
You have to actually rip his head off to get our attention.— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) November 1, 2014
Ahh. Good to know.
Hey let's talk about Big East refs for a minute. Oh wait, I meant Big 12 refs. I swear that I typed that on accident but in all honesty it's really a disservice to our old Big East refs. I mean they were incompetent but they were also used to reffing games between Cincinnati and Rutgers so when a real one snuck up on them it's understandable they'd be a little taken aback.
I don't know what the excuse is for these Big 12 assholes. In WVU's last two home games they have for large stretches of the game seemed lost and made egregious errors for both the home team and visiting team. There is no excuse for either of these things. You can't miss personal fouls where someone brings the quarterback down by the facemask. You can't review plays that aren't reviewable and then make up reasons for why you reviewed them. In a job that's as high-profile as this one where you are managing contests between multimillion dollar programs you simply can't be this damn bad at your job. You can't lose control of games. You can't fail to accurately interpret and administer the rule book. You just can't. The Big 12 is real football and the Big 12 deserves better.
Hard not to wonder what happens if they'd actually thrown this flag and WVU gets first and 10 at the TCU 14 yard line.
Man I'm excited NFL refs are really good... Cause these guys wearing the stripes for the #WVU game are hilariously horrendous so far— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 1, 2014
The rare burn/brown-nose combo tweet. Well done, Pat. That's why you're the best.
That was Lambert's 12th field goal of 40 yards or more this season.— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) November 1, 2014
Much like Barry Peppercorn, he's VERY GOOD.
But that should have been 6. WVU was up 13-0 but you left feeling like they'd left a lot on the table. Does 17-0 make it any different? Again, more stare-at-the-ceiling fuel.
Honestly it was due to bite us in the ass. You can't do that nonstop against Baylor and then TCU and not expect an eventual ass-biting. I wasn't too torn up about it. It happens.
After Clint Trickett's ugliest INT of the season, the Frogs take over at the #WVU 21.— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) November 1, 2014
Sad part is it wouldn't even be his ugliest pick of the day.
OK is it time to talk about Clint? Should we go ahead and do that now or wait? Now? OK fine let's talk about Clint.
I really like Clint Trickett. I think he's a good kid, I think he's a tough kid and I think we have at least 3 more wins with him than we would have otherwise. He's managed himself remarkably well and the leap his game has made from where he was last season is remarkable. That is the result of a lot of hard work and needs to be part of any Clint conversation.
He was awful on Saturday and you can make a pretty good case he was the primary reason for the loss. I'm just stating facts. He's equally responsible for multiple wins this season. Aside from two awful, awful throws that were intercepted there was a muffed snap which seemed to be his fault. That's 3 turnovers, two of which led to TCU touchdowns - and it's also not counting his late 4th quarter fumble that was recovered by Wendell Smallwood. Aside from all that awfulness he seemed to spend a lot of the day checking out of pass plays into run plays, often to the dissatisfaction of his coach.
I don't know what the problem was with him Saturday. I think we've seen enough great play out of him to agree that Saturday was an outlier. My suspicion is he suffered an injury, either a minor concussion on the dirty facemask-slam in the first quarter or re-aggravating his shoulder on one of the times he was taken down. Either way he was clearly not right and my only hope is that he's OK for the final 3 (4) games of the season. Remember that he hid a minor concussion from the staff in a game last year so it wouldn't be out of character for him to do so.
But the simple fact is he's our best option and he's the reason we are where we are. Anyone banging on Trickett needs to step back and assess the situation. The kid is what he is - a 170 pound quarterback playing major college football. I don't remember much about physics, but mass is mass and if you don't have it there ain't much to dissipate those hits. Also the WVU quarterback cupboard is bare after Trickett. You have one guy in Paul MIllard trying to redshirt, another guy in William Crest out for a medical redshirt and an unproven juco transfer in Skylar Howard. Those aren't great options. Those aren't really options at all. Frankly it's a miracle we've made it this far. Remember that when you're bitching about Trickett.
"Hi, I'm the WVU offense." "And I'm painfully awkward WVU offense, which can't stop fumbling."— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) November 1, 2014
Hell, we're even fumbling the dip out of our own mouths.— Fake Bob Huggins (@FakeBobHuggins) November 1, 2014
In the last 3 games this offense has given two of the best offenses in America (Baylor and TCU) EIGHT extra possessions in WVU territory. Eight. The defense has only given up 3 touchdowns. That's unreal. Those guys are playing out of their minds.
Has a punt returner with no official punt returns and no official punt return yards ever won Big12 Special Teams POW? #WVU— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 1, 2014
"Daddy, how did you win that trophy on the mantle?"
"Well, one time I fair-caught 4 punts in a game. I was the hero."
"You mean like I see fans do on the field in those silly contests sometimes?"
Florida 21, Georgia 7. Where has this been all year, Gators?— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) November 1, 2014
Meanwhile #TeamChaos was working ovetime for us.
But even with the 4 turnovers, even with the uneven offensive performance.....even with ALL that, the third quarter happened and Dreamius Smith made had his weekly "hey I'm just going to do everything here on my own" drive.
Update: WVU has now crossed the 50 ... Not sure Smith is not WVU's best option at RB right now ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) November 1, 2014
First of all watch the double-negatives John! Second of all I 100% agree. I've been saying for about a month now that Dreamius is the only bona-fide home run hitter among the tailback corps and the last two weeks he's backed me up, logging the longest runs of the season (a late 40 yard score against Oklahoma State and the 50 yard scamper against TCU). Until Wendell Smallwood can figure out how to not trip Dream is the guy. I would like more carries by him, please.
It was all a Dream-ius.— Greg Madia (@GregMadia) November 1, 2014
Biggie quotes get you in every time.
But that's how it felt. The sequence after TCU took a 14-13 lead had me 100% convinced that this was WVU's day. I completely bought in. It was a dream sequence (see what I did there).
First Dremaius charges down the field and scores and the stadiium is rocking. They were blasting "Seven Nation Army" and we were all instinctively bracing a bit.....and the kick was fielded in the end zone. Disaster averted.
But wait...Boykin had gotten rolling on that last series.....HOLY CRAP TERRELL CHESTNUT IS GOING TO SCORE. The defense just recovered its first fumble and scored at the same time and we have a 13 point lead on the #7 team in the country halfway through the 3rd quarter!!
At this point the stadium was about to come unglued and 7NA is blasting again....I'm not quite ready to give in but.......Xavier Preston blasted down the TCU kick returner at the 11. AT THE 11!! WITH 7NA PLAYING!!! THE CURSE WAS BROKEN!!!
So TCU gets the ball back and gains a little traction with a first down, but then Karl Joesph blows up a screen and on 3rd and 10 Edward Muldrow III comes completely unblocked off the corner and buries Trevone Boykin. I mean destroys him. A split second earlier and that's another fumble. As it was TCU got off a 35 yard punt into the wind and WVU was at work from its own 34 with all the momentum in the world, a rattled TCU dying to be put away and a season opening up to broad, limitless possibilities. Everything I knew about this WVU team and their ability to finish made me feel supremely confident.
If I had to narrow down what made this loss so awful it's this sequence right here. At this point I was all in. WVU was going to win this game - quite possibly by double digits - and was going to make a massive leap in the polls after dispatching a pair of top 10 teams in 2 weeks (which would also be the first time WVU had beaten a pair of top 10 teams twice in a season). They would be the Big 12 front-runner and start getting whispers of playoff consideration. Georgia was going to lose, #TeamChaos was ready to emerge in earnest and WVU would be staring up in the polls at a lot of SEC West teams that had yet to play each other and a lot of other teams that hasn't played schedules half as tough as the Mountaineers. I was going to finally get to write directly about all these things that I'd been dancing around for a month. This was it. It was finally happening. It was all coming together. GameDay, Chaos. Peaking at the right time. Kansas State at Milan Puskar Stadium at night.......I was swigging my beer and dreaming big dreams.
Then Clint Trickett threw quite possibly the worst pass I have ever seen a Mountaineer quarterback throw. Almost certainly the most costly. I'm not sure what he was thinking lofting a ball so softly to the sideline to avoid the sack. I don't know why that ball didn't hit a fat guy in the 8th row. I just know he made his worst decision of the day on a day of horrible decisions and in one instant WVU went from a team that was attacking to a team that was protecting. TCU scored 2 plays later and Trickett would complete just one more pass for the rest of the day - a 46 yard chuck to Mario Alford - but the playcalling got conservative and the signal caller got downright scared and WVU was never right again. Sure they still could have escaped with a win had another play or two gone their way, but the swag was gone.
@smartfootball Seemed like that 3rd-and-12 would have been a good spot to do it, too. Might be highest percentage play to convert— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 1, 2014
This was pathetic. And to be honest if you're facing 3rd and 12 from the 14 yard line and you have the best jump-ball receiver in America and you don't give him a chance to make a play I don't know that you deserve to win anyway. It's inexcusable, chicken-sh*t football and that's now how this team got to 6-2.
Worth pointing out TCU won toss, deferred to second half, chose to receive in second half and WVU chose to kick into wind in fourth quarter.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 1, 2014
I've heard the wind wasn't that strong or seemingly important when the game started but still, this seemed an odd decision.Doesn't it seem like we talk about wind a lot more than we used to?
I'm sorry.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) November 1, 2014
We still love you. Just give us a couple of days.
Will haunt RT @max_olson: West Virginia had every opportunity to put that one away. Final 3 drives on offense: 9 plays, -7 yards.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 1, 2014
This from a team that I think had scored in every quarter this season except for 1 against Baylor and the 2nd quarter against TCU. They'd been relatively consistent all year. Up and down, but never anything like we saw here.
Stat that really sticks out to me from yesterday - #WVU ran 11 plays in the TCU red zone. All 11 were runs.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 2, 2014
I put those two tweets together on purpose.
Back to work tomorrow gotta bounce back against Texas! Love my team! #WVU— Rell16 (@TChestnut) November 2, 2014
Hope this one doesn't beat 'em twice like the Texas game last year. Even a 2-1 finish gets this team to 8-4 and if any of you say you wouldn't have been thrilled with 8-4 before the season you're damn liars. Rally the troops, there's a lot of football left to play in this season.
Poor Ole Miss. Lost best player, go-ahead TD, fumble, game, division, conference, playoff spot, title shot in less than 1 yard. Just brutal.— Scott Michaux (@ScottMichaux) November 2, 2014
And it could be a lot worse. I felt awful for Ole Miss Saturday night and am pretty much sick of Auburn right now. I've got a solid anti-Tigers rant locked and loaded but we've been at this for awhile so I'll save it for another day.
Trying to rank yesterday's loss in terms of gut punches (in recent time). 1. 13-9 2. Tremaine Mack 3. Yesterday 4. Mike Vick 5. Winslow— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) November 2, 2014
I don't want to do too much wallowing here but I will say I was surprised that this one ranked as high as it did. When I first saw Randy's list I thought he was being over-dramatic but when you take into account a) the squandered opportunity to win and b) the stakes it's pretty far up there. I could even make a compelling argument that it's #2 - and I say that as someone who was in the stands for Tremaine Mack and #4 Mike Vick. That '96 team was deeply flawed and was going to lose to Syracuse and Virginia Tech no matter what. This team was looking pretty damn complete there for a bit and had a great look at.....well a lot of cool things.
But like I said, enough wallowing.
It was a tough loss but I'll leave off where I began - tough losses like this happen when the games matter. WVU football hasn't mattered for awhile but I think it's going to be mattering for the foreseeable future. That's a good place to be. It's a helluva lot better than where we were a year ago. Keep that in mind, let's take aim with our muskets at Bevo and...