Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Dante Stills Invited To NFL Combine

Cover Photo:WVU Athletics Dante Stills is one step closer to achieving his lifelong dreams of joining the NFL. The Mountaineers' defensive lineman was invited to participate in the NFL combine, announced today on the team's Twitter account.The 2023 combine will take place starting Sunday, February 26 and run through Monday, March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indianapolis Colts. This will be the 36th consecutive year the event will be held in Indianapolis Stills will be a part of the first group of position players to be evaluated, as defensive linemen and linebackers are set to report on the first night. Stills’ invitation to the NFL combine is the second major event he has been asked to participate in, joining the annual East-West Shrine bowl, in which Stills and teammate Bryce Ford-Wheaton will be suiting up on Thursday, Feb. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas Stills was the second-highest-graded defensive tackle in the Big 12 Conference this season, according to data collected by PFF. Not only that, but he had the eighth-highest-graded season among any defensive tackle in the country. His 85.7 season grade trailed only Texas’ Moro Ojomo (90.6) in the Big 12, and was better than Texas Tech’s Jaylon Hutchings (84.5) and all other conference players at the position. Stills recorded 26 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered another this past season. He graduates from the Mountaineer football team with the program record for tackles for loss (53) and ranking fourth in sacks (24.5) Stills earned a first team All-Big 12 selection for the second-straight season. He earned All-Big 12 honors in four of his five years at WVU, with the lone exception being in 2018 when he was a Freshman All-American. Stills now seeks to follow the footsteps of his father, Gary, and older brother, Darius, into the NFL.  

WVU Basketball Will Surprise People This Year

MMorgantown, West Virginia - With the Big 12 Pre-Season poll coming out a little under a week ago and the AP Top 25 coming out yesterday, West Virginia is receiving NO love from the press. The way Huggins has been talking about the players this year makes me believe that this could be a SNEAKY good team. Huggins has stated that this team knows how to compete and sees the players' mentality this season as similar to his own. He also said this about this year's team to the psyche of last year's season: "I think our guys have fantastic attitudes, their work ethic has been really good. It wasn't so much that a year ago." This is interesting due to the fact that maybe a poor mentality was the downfall of last season's team. The team started out 11-1 with their sole loss at that point of the season coming to Marquette. The team then fell to 16-17 (4-14) dropping 16 of their next 20 games, leaving them out of not only the NCAA Tournament but the NIT as well. Huggins also had this to say about last year's team: "Obviously we are going to be a lot better. We had a bad year last year. I think our attitudes our better. I think we've gained by subtraction in some regards." This makes me believe that many of the players did not want to be there, and were being a hindrance to the team. With this, all the momentum they had gained before conference play vanished and the team started playing like they NEVER played basketball in their lives. Now, this is an entirely new season, and I have faith Huggins will get the team back on track. With how positive Huggs has been speaking about each of the players, it makes me believe that West Virginia WILL make a run in the Big 12, and make the NCAA tournament, finishing above .500.

Venables vs. Brown: More Similar Than We Thought

Morgantown, West Virginia -- In a recent YouTube video by MattBeGreat, he described everything that was wrong with Brent Venables, and it sounded EERILY similar to what we are dealing with in Morgantown RIGHT NOW! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N02l6iEDzqI   In the video, he said that Venables is a great guy, but he is not head coach material. Venables has a team motto called "Trust the Process", which is almost identical to Brown's catchphrase of "Trust the Climb". Another thing that he mentioned is that Venables is NOT tough enough with his players to motivate them when they are not playing well, which makes them give up after the first quarter of almost every game that they are losing. Now, we haven't seen that level of collapse from WVU yet, but we have seen another flaw that comes with being too nice, NO discipline. In the second half of games (minus the Texas game), West Virginia looks like an entirely different team. They make more mistakes, have more drops, more mental errors, and more penalties than they do in the prior half. This has been the inevitable downfall for them in their losses this year (mainly Pitt and Kansas). Matt also said that he had faith in Venables at the beginning of the season and seemed like the right hire for Oklahoma. He later went on to say that he was dead wrong. Venables is turning a proud program in the wrong direction, and it is unacceptable with how good Oklahoma is year in and year out. The only reason that West Virginia hasn't seen a drop in success like Oklahoma has this year is that we have far inferior talent than Oklahoma has. Both coaches do NOT know what they are doing, and again, both are identical in the fact that they were great coaches at the level they were coaching before, but not where they are at now. Neal Brown is meant to be a G5 Head Coach and nothing higher, and Venables is meant to be a Defensive Coordinator, and not a Head Coach (especially at Oklahoma). Will Oklahoma fire Venables? In year one, when do they still owe money to the Big 12 if they want to leave the conference early? No, but they will suffer from the same incompetent play calls and coaching that WVU has dealt with for the entirety of Brown's tenure. At least Venables is ONLY in year one, Neal Brown doesn't have that excuse...

West Virginia Isn’t the WORST Team in the Big 12

  Cover Photo: Tyler Prusina, The DA Morgantown, West Virginia - During the preseason, we all had expectations on what the Big 12 would look like this season. Oklahoma and Baylor would round out the top, Oklahoma State and Texas would be competing for that third-place spot. Kansas State, WVU, and Texas Tech would be in the middle of the pack, and TCU and Kansas would be the bottom dwellers. Surprisingly in a weird Big 12, Oklahoma is the worst team in the league, and Kansas and TCU are the two best teams in the league. Now, you might be thinking, isn't West Virginia the worst team in the league? No, they aren't. Oklahoma is much worse, and has a real shot of being blown out by WEST VIRGINIA in Morgantown on November 12th. Even though WVU played against Texas's backup quarterback last week, they didn't have the neutral site advantage that Oklahoma had today. WVU played in a HOSTILE environment against a Texas team that is proving itself to NOT be out of the Big 12 title race by any stretch. Oklahoma played against the EXACT same defense that WVU did, but West Virginia was able to put up 20 points against them and not completely embarrass themselves. Oklahoma could not say the same this week with a 49-0 loss to the same Texas team that gave up 20 points to WVU last week. The Red River Showdown takes place in a neutral site field that is 50/50 for each fan base and by the time the second half started, the Sooners side started to leave like rats on a sinking ship. Then who can Oklahoma even beat this season? Honestly, there may not be another win on their schedule. The worst team that Oklahoma plays this season is West Virginia. I would say that would be a win if that was in Norman, but it is in Morgantown. The other plausible win they MIGHT have is against Iowa State, and that AGAIN is an away game for them. Oklahoma has Kansas next week, and the Jayhawks will be out for blood after today's heartbreaking loss against TCU. How big would a win against the Sooners be for the Mountaineers? For WVU and our fanbase? HUGE. WVU has never beaten OU since joining the Big 12. It doesn't matter how bad Oklahoma is, a win against the Sooners before they leave for the SEC will be a MASSIVE momentum boost for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia Has A Legitimate Chance Of Beating OU This Year

Morgantown, West Virginia - With Oklahoma being curb stomped by TCU today (55-24), it further brings home the point that anyone can beat anybody in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma, a team that had playoff aspirations under first-year Head Coach Brent Venables now falls to 3-2 (0-2) with back-to-back losses to Kansas State (at home), and TCU (at TCU). This really begs the question: How vulnerable is Oklahoma this season? The answer is pretty simple, VERY. If they can't beat Kansas State at home or the supposed bottom dweller TCU, then how are they going to beat West Virginia in Morgantown? Now, I don't think they will. I thought before the season started that WVU had a chance to beat them, but it has been back and forth all season long for me about who was gonna win. Now, I have my answer. Morgantown is a HARD place to visit and I don't think this year's Oklahoma team has it in them to beat the Mountaineers this season. For us, this is great! It will be the first time that West Virginia has EVER beaten the Sooners since joining the Big 12 in 2012. It would be a nice way to send them out of the conference. If West Virginia beats Texas today, both Oklahoma and Texas will be tied for dead last in the conference. They were picked to finish second and third in the conference respectively, but it is becoming less and less likely as we find out more about how these teams play. For the rest of the Big 12, this is GREAT news! Seeing those two leave the Big 12 on a sour note to the SEC is wonderful for West Virginia and the rest of the remaining conference, but what will this mean for them heading into the SEC?  It could show that they can't compete. If they cannot beat mediocre Big 12 schools, then how will they be able to compete with SEC talent? This year shows just a glimpse into what they will play like with new coaches, and at this current moment in time, it is NOT looking good for them.

This Is The Most Realistic Realignment For the Big 12

Morgantown, West Virginia - With rumors and TV contract debates being rapidly talked about, the pieces for the new era of the new college football world are starting to fall into place. As previously mentioned in our last article about realignment (https://voiceofmotown.com/report-big-12-to-expand-to-16-teams/), Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah are looking to join the Big 12. That isn't where the story ends, though. With Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff stubbornly believing the PAC-12 is worth a lot more than it is, which is holding the conference back from any chance at a real TV deal for the conference. This gives the Big 12 and the Big Ten the chance to purge and put down the PAC-12 for good. The Big Ten on the other hand is looking to seek an offer from Amazon for a new TV deal, and with Oregon, Washington, Standford, and California looking for a new conference, the foundation for a conference leap is looking more and more likely every day. What will this mean for the Big 12?  Well, this gives the Big 12 an opportunity to expand to 20 teams. If the Big 10 decides to expand to 20, it will most likely open up the door for the SEC to expand as well to combat the Big 10's expansion. With this, the SEC will have no other choice but to take the best of the best from the heart of the ACC. My guess is North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, and Miami. Those are the four best brands from the conference and will allow the Big 12 to take the best of what is left over. This is the BEST case scenario for West Virginia and would allow them and Cincinnati to have a big say on who the new teams from the East would be. The likely members the Big 12 would target are Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, and Louisville. This would be a perfect compromise between East and West in the conference and give the Big 12 the best geographical fit all around with four pods of 5 schools each. Examples of Big 12 Pods: Northeast: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pitt, NCST, Virginia Tech Midwest: Louisville, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State Southwest: UCF, TCU, Baylor, Houston, Texas Tech, Four Corners: Utah, BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado It will be interesting to see in the next few weeks what conference realignment has in store for the Big 12, but if things end up like this, it will not only be big for the conference but HUGE for West Virginia. It would bring back rivalry games, and allow West Virginia to end up staying in a stable conference that only a little over a year ago, was on the brink of collapse. Unlike the PAC-12 which has made stupid decision after stupid decision, the Big 12 was smart and thought ahead.  

OPINION: After a Rocky Start, What Does the Rest of This Season Have In...

  (Photo by WVU Athletics) The West Virginia Mountaineers have started the season out 2-2 (0-1) with wins against FCS opponent Towson and rival Virginia Tech (VPI to many). They also have losses to at the time #17th ranked Pitt and conference foe Kansas in overtime.  I personally believe that when we lost to Kansas, this season really was over, but now, I think that West Virginia is finally starting to prove itself. The Mountaineers had a dominant win against Towson at home, and yes, before anyone tells me that it is Towson, it is still very impressive to not give up any points on defense. After that, they defeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. That win could potentially be the turning point of the season as WVU blew out the Hokies by the largest margin of victory at Lane Stadium in Blackdiamond history. If the Mountaineers really want to turn this season around, they have to defeat Texas in Austin and then a potentially Top 15-ranked Baylor Bears team in Morgantown. Texas lost tonight to Texas Tech in Lubbock in OT and I believe that WVU with momentum coming out of the rivalry game against Virginia Tech, has a real chance to pull the upset in Austin.  They then come home to play Baylor. The thing about Baylor is that they have NEVER defeated the Mountaineers in Morgantown since WVU joined the Big 12. If they defeat Texas, then I think that WVU has a real chance to pull the upset on a Thursday night in October. If they lose to Texas, WVU still has a chance to win (especially since it is a night game on Thursday and crazy stuff ALWAYS happens on Thursday nights in Motown.) All in all, this schedule is super difficult for the rest of the season: Saturday, Oct. 1 at #22 Texas Longhorns, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Oct. 8 Oct. 13, #17 Baylor Bears, 7:30 ET   Saturday, Oct. 22 at Texas Tech Red Raiders, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Oct. 29  TCU Horned Frogs, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Nov. 5 at Iowa State Cyclones, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Nov. 12 #6 Oklahoma Sooners, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Nov. 19 Kansas State Wildcats, Time TBA ET   Saturday, Nov. 26 at #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys If West Virginia wins their next two, the schedule thins out quite a bit and they have some real chances to FINALLY put themselves on the map with Coach Neal Brown. If they split the next two or lose both, then I am not sure how this season will unfold and will potentially be the end of his career. A winning season is still VERY possible, and if they play like they did against VT and tweak that offense, even more, the sky is the limit for this team.

Big 12 Conference Play Will Be a Litmus Test

Big 12 Conference play starts at the beginning of the new year, and each of its members, including WVU, will face a true measure of who’s a contender and who’s a pretender. The Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the nation currently with 3 top 10 teams, 5 top 25 teams, and the top two “others receiving votes” teams. The only other conference that may be able to contend with the top talent in the Big 12 is the Pac 12, with 3 teams themselves in the top 10, but from top to bottom, the Big 12 is superior. The Big 12 currently has a combined overall record of 96-16 so far this season. These wins aren’t just against inflated by beating up on poor opponents. The Big 12 Is 2nd in total Q1 wins, 3rd in total Q2 wins, and 3rd in total Q1 + Q2 wins despite having 4 less teams than the two conferences ahead of them (Big 10 and SEC). Additionally, the bottom of the Big 12 is stronger than the bottom of all the other conferences, and it is not close. The Big 12 has the least Q3 and Q4 losses of any Power 5 conference. Every other conference has at least 4 times as many losses to Q3 and Q4 opponents on the season. Big 12 Conference is going to going to hurt its members in as many ways as it No game is going to be a “gimme” for any team this year. Oklahoma State and TCU may be the weakest of the bunch, but they will each win several games. Baylor and Kansas are likely the teams to beat, but they will each have several losses. Every team will take it’s lumps, but by the time Selection Sunday rolls around, those that come out with a .500 record or better will move on an be a formidable opponent for any potential matchup come tournament time. For WVU, Big 12 play will pit Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil against some of the best defenses they will see all season. The defense of Keddie Johnson, Gabe Osabuohien, and Pauly Paulicap will be tested against teams with strong guard play and others who rely on length and athleticism. And young, developing stars like Kobe Johnson, Isaiah Cottrell, and Jalen Bridges will face an opportunity to raise their games up as teams try to counter WVU’s two-headed monster offensively. Bob Huggins has a with as much or more talent from top to bottom than it ever has. If WVU can adapt, rise to the challenge, and persevere, the Mountaineers ceiling is limitless.   Check out more of Brandon's analysis on the Mountaineers' basketball team and Big 12 play on the Voice of Motown Podcast below! https://open.spotify.com/show/57Dfw10urlEo8GBstpKrYy?si=64b7c5aaae1d4ca9

Big 12 Receives First of Four Expected Applications

Photo Courtesy Mark Humphrey Associated Press   The University of Cincinnati has just submitted their application to join the Big 12 Conference. This comes just weeks after the first reports came out that the conference had four teams in mind to add. BYU, Houston, and UCF are expected to join Cincinnati in sending applications. https://twitter.com/Enquirer/status/1435671154128216064?s=20

WVU In A Reconstructed Big 12 Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds

Conference realignment has been the talk of college football for weeks now. The landscape is drastically changing. The likely departure of Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 has schools like West Virginia scrambling to find new homes. But would it necessarily be bad for West Virginia to stick around a re-constructed Big 12 Conference?   All things considered, yes, the ACC is the best fit for West Virginia. I mean come on. Pitt-WVU, VT-WVU, UVA-WVU… the amazing matchups are endless. Unfortunately, it may not happen, despite how much it makes sense. So, what is the next step? A reconstructed Big 12 Conference.   The Big 12 has already recognized prospective teams: Cincinnati, BYU, UCF and Houston. https://twitter.com/DWStraka49/status/1433466058711650307?s=20 Now, I am a major fan of WVU to the ACC. But realistically, that won’t happen for at least another few years. And, if the Big 12 does successfully add these teams, I personally would be very content in a reconstructed Big 12 Conference. However, long term, I do not think it would be the best fit for West Virginia.   A conference with UCF, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Ok. State, Kansas State, and Kansas is ABSOLUTELY a power 5 conference. Of course, all this is hypothetical. First, because of the extremely volatile college football landscape, we do not know how things will shape up over the next several months. We also do not know how the television deals will shape up. Right now, it’s all purely speculation.   In the end, yes, West Virginia should be and deserves to be in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Will they get the invite sometime down the road? Maybe. For now though, a hypothetical Big 12 Conference with the previously stated teams is nothing to have your head down about in the short term.

What’s Up With Les Miles?

(Photo by The Associated Press)  When Les Miles was hired as the head football coach of the Kansas Jayhawks in 2018, many believed he would be the man to turn around the misfortunes of the worst Power 5 program in America. Fast forward a little over two years later and the hiring is looking like yet another misstep from the Jayhawks.   According to multiple reports, LSU, Miles’ former school, has released documents on an investigation that took place in 2013. In this report, Miles is claimed to have allegedly been banned from “being alone with female students” on top of many other things. Miles is said to have had several different inappropriate encounters with young females, even suggesting to one that the two of them get a hotel room, per reports. What is possibly the most disturbing aspect of the investigation is that Miles allegedly wanted “attractive” females around his program to help pull in recruits. For a coach who just finished an 0-9 season, this does not bode well for his future. In today’s political climate, it will be near impossible for Kansas to retain him. Stewart Mandel of The Athletic even suggested that this could be the end for Kansas AD Jeff Long as well. This is a very messy situation, and The Voice of Motown will bring you updates as soon as they become available.

New Year, New(er) Coach, Same old WVU football

We dominated the game and lost. Same exact thing we did under Holgorsen year after year and game after game. Our players would out-play and out-hustle the other team, yet undisciplined penalties, a lack of fundamentals and questionable play calling and clock management would cause us to lose. The game Saturday against the Pokes resulted in the same exact script. Before I go any further, let me establish that I supported going after Coach Neal Brown before his name was even mentioned for the job, and I do still support him and haven’t given up on him. But he hasn’t yet shown me anything to back up a reason for believing in him. Last year was a complete joke. We blew four games, FOUR, in the 4th quarter. Blowing games in the 4th quarter is a result of play calling and clock management. We were either ahead, tied or within one score going into the 4th against Iowa State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State. We could have gone 9-3 and should have at the VERY worst gone 6-6 and to a Bowl. On top of blowing four games late and giving WVU our first losing season in six years and only the second in seventeen years, ol’ Coach refused to bench a QB that was obviously not good enough to start in a Power 5 conference. Kendall just doesn’t/didn’t have the arm strength to make the necessary throws. People that do not know football saw our rushing stats last year and think that our Offensive Line was terrible, but that just isn’t the case. We couldn’t run the ball because no defense was afraid of our QB throwing the ball and therefore loaded the box. Kendall just couldn’t throw the ball downfield. Throw after throw looked like a wounded duck that hung in the air all day. He finished with 12 TDs and 10 INTs, that is absolutely horrid at any level but especially college where the year before – WIll Grier threw 37 TDs to 8 INTs. I understood starting Kendall out of the gate, he was highly rated from the time he was graduating high school through the time Lincoln Riley said that the QB battle between he and Kyler Murray was neck and neck. But after a handful of games it was obvious that he just didn’t have the arm for Power 5. Yet Coach refused to bench him and not even give a CHANCE to ANYONE and especially not Holgorsen recruit Trey Lowe that was supposed to be our future and could’ve been our Starter for the next four years as a Redshirt Freshman. No offensive line can run block when eight or nine defenders are in the box. And as far as pass blocking, we were very good. We gave up less than 2 sacks in half of all our games and our Left Tackle (Colton McKivitz) got drafted in the 5th round. If you’re wondering why I’m rehashing a lot of last year – I'm pointing out that this past Saturday was déjà vu. We absolutely dominated the Pokes and STILL got beat by 2 touchdowns. We had double digit penalties and multiple fumbles (one for a scoop and score reminiscent of 2018 against the Sooners). At one point we had nearly double the yards but were still down 17-0. Which brings us to the muffed FG that continues the mediocre Special Teams from the Holgorsen era. I picked us going 6-4 before the season started, hoping that Brown’s game management had improved over year 1 to the point that we would win a few of those games that come down to the wire in the 4th Quarter. Unfortunately, if what happened against Oklahoma State continues throughout the season, it will be another below .500 year when we should be a bowl team. I gave Coach Brown a pass last year, he had a new team, new program and new Conference, so I said, “fine, yes we had the talent to go 9-3 but I’ll give him a pass in the first year while figuring out what he has and what to do with it.” But he doesn’t get a pass this year. No one expects(ed) him to go 9-1, I don’t even care if we went 2-8 (because the only games that should be a given are Eastern KY and Kansas. You won’t hear it from the “academic Gods of the Big 10” but The Big 12 is the toughest Conference from top to bottom, the only bad team is KU) as long as we left everything on the field and it wasn’t more of the Head Coach blowing the games like it’s been for the past 8 years. Mountaineer fans deserve better than having that sick feeling of being the better team yet still losing that we've had for large portions of our history and especially since 2012. I still believe in Coach Neal Brown but he needs to right the ship starting this week against Baylor. If he gives us our 3rd losing season in 8 years, he's going to lose a lot of the base, including me. We just saw against Ok State how good we can be, they are supposed to be a favorite to win the Conference, along with OU and Texas - and we should have beaten them. So there is no reason for us finishing below 500 again. I don't buy into the mediocrity accepting motto of "Trust The Climb." We should've/could've won 9 games last year so there is not much "climbing" to do, we're already there.

MOUNTAINEER MADNESS – The ultimate WVU NCAA tournament run – Sweet 16

Mid-March is annually the Holy days of college basketball. But in 2020, the gyms are silent and the NCAA Tournament will not be played for the first time since its inception in 1939. We will never know what would have been for the 2020 West Virginia Mountaineers in their quest for One Shining Moment. In it's place, let's use the Wayback Machine to look back at the best tournament games for the Mountaineers. We are selecting the best WVU game for each round of the tournament - Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four and National Championship Game. Each day will feature a new top WVU NCAA Tournament game, culminating with the finals. Part 3 of 6: Sweet 16 1959 East Regional; Charlotte, N.C. West Virginia 95, St. Joseph’s 92 Two amazing stats stand out when looking at the 1959 East Regional semifinal game between WVU and St. Joseph’s at Charlotte, N.C. One is how incredible it was that the two teams combined to score 187 points in a game without a shot clock or 3-point line. The other is to marvel at the otherworldly performance of WVU’s Jerry West. West finished with a double-double, scoring 36 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. It’s hard to overstate how much of a one-man wrecking crew West was generally and especially in this game. Zeke from Cabin Creek wasn’t just the game’s high scorer. He outscored the rest of the Mountaineers starting lineup, combined, 36-34. He was the only Mountaineer in double-figures in rebounding. Bench players James Ritchie and Lee Patrone had eight boards each. Here is another stat illustrating how much West carried the Mountaineers on this night. West shot 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) from the field in the regional semifinal win over the Hawks. The rest of the team hit 27.1 percent. West played 37 of the games 40 minutes. St. Joseph’s led, 48-42, at the half but West and the Mountaineers offense was a scoring machine in the second stanza as the Mountaineers rallied for victory. The Mountaineers were the Cardiac Kids in 1959. The rally against the Hawks was one of 14 come-from-behind victories for the national finalist Mountaineers. St. Joseph’s was ravaged by foul problems in the game. Four of the Hawks starters and five St. Joe’s players overall fouled out of the contest. Four Mountaineers hit double-figure scoring – West, Patrone (13), Willie Akers (13) and Bucky Bolyard (10). WVU’s Akers and Bob Clousson each had four personal fouls but each avoided picking up his fifth. St. Joseph’s Joe Gallo was the only Hawks starter not to foul out. He led St. Joseph’s with a team-high 22 points. Joe Spratt (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Bob Clarke (15 points, 13 rebounds) each tallied double-doubles despite fouling out in the loss. St. Joseph’s got the bye into the regional semifinals. WVU beat Dartmouth, 82-68, in New York in the opening round to advance to the regionals in Charlotte. Runner up: 2005  (7) WVU 65, (6)Texas Tech 60

How would an expanded Big 12 work?

Part 2 of 2 In the first part of this series, we examined the possibility that the Big 12 make a bold move to go after six Pac-12 schools – USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington – to make a mega conference with a national sea-to-almost-shining-sea footprint. In Part 1 we looked at the benefits and pitfalls of the potential move https://voiceofmotown.com/should-the-big-12-get-really-big/. In Part 2, we examine a nuts-and-bolts logistics plan if it was to happen. To start, we will focus on how this would work for the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball. Women’s basketball would likely work the same way. There are too many other sports with too many variables to calculate here. It is possible that, if this mega conference were to come into being, that it would it apply ONLY to football and basketball. No conference has gone this route all the way, but for a conference with about 3,000 miles between some schools, this would be the way to go. It’s one thing to send West Virginia’s football team to Eugene, Ore., for a game. The revenue gain makes that at least palatable. It makes no sense to annually send the WVU baseball team on that kind of road trip. This 16-team conference (we’ll call it the Big 16 going forward) would have to be divided into two eight-team divisions. With the way the geography works, an East and West division split makes the most sense. The former Pac-12 schools would make up six of the eight West teams. The next determination is which two of the former Big 12 schools would join them. It’s likely a foregone conclusion that Texas would be one of those schools. As the school with the highest revenue pool, the Big 12 would likely have to offer a Texas carrot to the Pac-12 departures as incentive to make the move. Oklahoma is the other big-money draw in the current Big 12. But moving both Oklahoma and Texas to the division with the Pac-12 schools would make the divisions grossly uneven competitively in football. Also, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma likely would have to be linked. So Texas is in the West with the Pac-12 schools. Texas Tech is the furthest west school in the current Big 12, so the Red Raiders make the most sense to join the Longhorns in the new Big 16 West division. With this divide, for competitive play purposes, it’s better to think of it as two mini eight-team divisions rather than think of things in 16-team terms. The conference would still play nine conference games. For football, as a member of the Big 16 East, West Virginia would have seven conference games against East division teams (four home, three away; opposite the next year) and two (one home, one away) against the West. Having one road game against the West would reduce the cross-country travel to only one game per year. That isn’t too taxing. Mathematically, this set up means that WVU would host the West schools once every eight years. For example, USC would travel to Morgantown once every eight years. That would be a great game for Mountaineers fans to attend. The fly in the ointment here is, with Texas and Oklahoma in opposite divisions, the longtime rivals would only play once every four years. It’s doubtful either school would be satisfied with that arrangement. The new league likely would capitulate that Texas and Oklahoma would continue the Red River Rivalry annually. As such, WVU would only play Texas once every eight years and only host the Longhorns once every 16. That would effectively put an end to the “Horns Down” rivalry that has developed between WVU and Texas. The Big 16 Conference championship game would be between the East and West champions. It’s likely this game would float between Dallas, Glendale, Ariz., and the new football stadium in Los Angeles. WVU has yet to reach the Big 12 title game. The Big 16 championship game would be a little easier to earn a spot, but not much. Now, WVU has to best eight teams to make the title game. In this format, the Mountaineers would have to finish ahead of seven. Devising a plan for football is fairly straight forward, except for the Red River Rivalry issue. Basketball is a little more complicated. Here is the best plan as we see it. The schools would be in the same divisions in football and basketball. And like in our football plan, the basketball format will treat the Big 16 not as a one large conference as much as it makes it into two mini conferences. Here is the plan outlined in a WVU-centric way. WVU, as a member of the Big 16 East, will play 18 conference games, same as now. But the Mountaineers would play home and home against the other seven East division teams. That leaves four games against the West division. These games will be played on a rotating basis, with two home, two away. Splitting the conference into divisions that are mini conferences unto themselves is a way to reduce the burdensome travel that a coast=to-coast conference entails. WVU would have two West Coast trips annually (at USC and at Arizona one year, at Washington and at UCLA the next, for example). That is much more feasible than would be the case if the Mountaineers played every team in the conference every year. This mini-conference format would extend into the conference tournament. With this plan, the Big 16 East and the Big 16 West play on opposite sides of the bracket, with the winners from each meeting in the Big 16 championship game. You could even extend this idea further and hold the East and West brackets in different locations - say the East in Kansas City and the West in Los Angeles. Then the championship game could alternate between the two or even play someplace completely different like Dallas. Logistically, there are some burdensome problems with this possible expansion. But once you split the conference into East and West conferences, the issues aren’t much worse than what West Virginia...

Should the Big 12 get really big?

Part 1 of 2 The Big 12 has been on the receiving end of no shortage of criticism. Much of it deserved. The biggest criticism leveled on the conference, from its inception in 1994, is its timidity. In the topsy-turvy world of college sports conference aggression, the Big 12 has ALWAYS been on the defensive. Sure, the conference could poach TCU and West Virginia from the dying Big East. But when it comes dealing with the big boys – the other Power 5 conferences – the Big 12 has always been the prey, never the predator. Maybe that’s about to change. In June 2010, more than a year before West Virginia announced its intention to join the conference, the Big 12 almost died. At the time the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was in serious negations to pluck the conference's crown jewels – Texas and Oklahoma – plus Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas Tech and Texas A&M and add them to the West Coast league. Reports later confirmed that the move was all but finished before a change of heart by Texas put the kibosh on the prospective deal. The Big 12’s acquiescence on allowing Texas to operate its own television network (the Longhorn Network) led to Texas to stay in the Big 12 and save the conference. The Big 12 would eventually still lose Colorado to the Pac-12, Texas A&M to the SEC and Nebraska to the Big Ten. The latter two opened the Big 12 door to TCU and West Virginia. After Louisville left the Big East to join the ACC in 2014 (replacing Maryland, which bolted for the Big Ten), the Power 5 football conferences have found a level of stability unseen in the past 30 years. But in the dog-eat-dog world of intercollegiate conference realignment, if your conference isn’t the predator, it’s probably the prey. In 2016, the Big 12 flirted with the idea of expansion before eventually backtracking and deciding to stay at 10 teams. That foray again involved the Big 12 looking at Group of 6 conference teams as possible new members. It’s possible next time the Big 12 goes looking for bigger game. The Big 12 is in a solid place financially. The conference is third in revenue-per-team. It trails behind the biggest of the big boys – the SEC and Big Ten – but is competitive with the ACC and doing significantly better than the Pac-12. On his recent podcast, The Athletic’s college sports guru Andy Staples praised the Big 12’s current leadership and talked about the possibility of the Big 12 turning the tables on the Pac-12 and stealing the best programs from the West Coast league for itself. “The Big 12 is actually pretty well run, and it has a pretty good set of TV deals,” Staples said. “Not as good as the SEC and the Big Ten, but pretty good.” Staples goes on to propose the Big 12 poach USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington and form a truly national 16-team mega conference. Current Pac-12 members aren’t happy with the current revenue situation in the conference, and they might be looking at non Pac-12 conferences as a means of improving it. USC athletic director Mike Bohn expressed dissatisfaction with his school’s current revenue stream and said “everything is on the table” regarding USC’s conference future. “There’s not talk of (leaving now), but guess what? If it was on the table, we would certainly explore that,” Bohn told CBS Sports. This isn’t exactly a “no-brainer” of a situation, neither from the Big 12 nor the proposed new members. For the Big 12, any expansion this large would need to bring with it A LOT more money via television deals to make it work. It’s possible that adding programs with the pedigree of USC and the others would generate the kind of TV-rights spike that makes the move profitable for everyone. But it’s not a guarantee that it would, either. On the potential new schools’ side, this move would be a monumental shift in their athletic programs and disrupt a century of rivalries and partnerships. Would the increase profitability be worth the disruption? Would the state legislatures of California, Oregon and Washington allow the four schools from those states to leave their in-state brethren high and dry? What about the additional travel burden to both the schools and their fans? Is the money worth any and all these and other issues? If the history of the cutthroat world of conference pilfering has taught us anything it’s that money talks and everything else walks. It’s also taught us that the Big 12 hasn’t shown itself to be a skilled hunter in this world. There’s nothing that will likely change the former. But maybe the Big 12 is ready to change the latter. Part 2: What would a mega Big 12/16 conference look like? How would it work? What would it mean for WVU?

Next Game: 1/31 at TCU 9:00pm on ESPNU

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