Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The 2021 Mountaineers will be the Most Talented West Virginia Team Ever

The West Virginia Mountaineers, 13-2, are off to a sensational start to the season and could absolutely compete for a Big 12 Conference Championship and perhaps a National Championship this season.  After a miserable 15-21 season last year, it is an incredible time to be a West Virginia fan and this season and team should be appreciated. However, looking ahead, the 2020-2021 West Virginia Mountaineers will almost certainly be the best, most talented team in the program's history.  This of course depends on everything going right and everyone coming back, but the team could potentially be a National Championship favorite next season. Oscar Tshiebwe, the fabulous Freshman Forward, is absolutely athletically gifted enough to declare for the NBA Draft right now, but he is still very raw and would benefit from another season in Morgantown.  Bob Huggins will have the unfortunate story of Sagaba Konate to use as an excellent example of what happens if a player leaves prematurely.  I suspect that Tshiebwe will be back for one more season and then declare for the NBA following a remarkable Sophomore year. Derek Culver, although again very talented, is unlikely to be ready for the NBA after this season.  He's perhaps even more raw than Tshiebwe and leaving West Virginia early would be a tremendously poor decision for him to make.  To truly gain the attention of NBA scouts, Culver must improve his post play, develop his mid-range game and learn to play more under control. The players that the Mountaineers will likely lose next year are Seniors Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Logan Routt.  Haley is a big, consistent, talented guard and is a pretty massive loss for the team.  Harler has become a reliable shooter and aggressive defender off the bench and Routt is a big body who adds depth on the interior. With that said, there are players on the team currently who will step up to replace the departing Seniors (Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman will play a bigger role) and several incoming players who will make the team even deeper and probably better. Jalen Bridges, who redshirted this season, has benefited from a year of practicing and working out with the team.  A 4 star in-state recruit out of Fairmont, Bridges has the size and skill to get minutes off the bench and contribute immediately.  I erroneously said that West Virginia "didn't need Bridges" over six months ago, but he's clearly going to be an outstanding player for the Mountaineers. Isaiah Cottrell, a 6'10 four star forward, has been absolutely terrific for the juggernaut Huntington Prep team this year.  Although Duke commit Jaemyn Brakefield gets more attention, Cottrell has been the most consistent player on the team and his length and skill will be invaluable for the Mountaineers as a Freshman next season. Taj Thweatt, a three star 6'7 forward out of New Jersey, and Kedrian Johnson, a 6'4 guard who has been mentioned as one of the best JUCO players in the country this season, will be immediate big-time contributors off the bench as well. This year's team is very, very good, but next season's team will be extremely athletic, very deep and without a doubt the most talented team in West Virginia basketball history.  Imagine Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews, Jr., Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe with another year of experience!  Depending on how the team finishes this season, expect them to be a Preseason Top 5 team and a favorite to win the National Championship next year.

The Perfect Replacement

As reported earlier, West Virginia's Wide Receiver Coach Xavier Dye left for the same position at the University of South Florida.  Head Coach Neal Brown was quick to thank Dye for his contributions to West Virginia and said the search for a replacement would begin immediately. “I want to thank Xavier Dye for his contributions to WV football over the last 10 months.  We wish him the best as he reunites with close friend and mentor Jeff Scott.  Our search has already begun as we seek to find a dynamic teacher to lead our talented young WR core.” https://twitter.com/NealBrown_WVU/status/1208440753153814528?s=20 Dye was an outstanding recruiter and fantastic coach for the Mountaineers, and him leaving the program would typically be a big loss for the football program.  However, there is a former West Virginia football player out there that would make the transition to a new wide receiver's coach seamless. Stedman Bailey.  Bailey, a former first team Big East selection, first team All-American in 2012, who finished his college career at West Virginia University with the gaudy 210 receptions, 3,218 yards and 41 touchdowns in three seasons, would make the absolute perfect replacement for Dye as the new wide receivers coach for the Mountaineers. Bailey set the Mountaineer single season record for receiving yardage (1,279 yards) and tied the school record for most touchdown receptions (12) in a single season.  His career receiving yards rank 13th in Division I football all-time.  Bailey went on to be drafted in the 3rd round by the then-St. Louis Rams. Bailey's NFL career was cut short after he was shot multiple times in the head while sitting in a car with his family.  Although the assailants were never apprehended, Bailey survived the attack and eventually attempted an NFL comeback.  Although this attempt came up short, Bailey is a survivor and the newly open wide receivers coach position is the perfect opportunity for him to get back into football. Born and raised in Miramar, Florida, Stedman Bailey would immediately re-open the Miramar to West Virginia pipeline that brought the Mountaineers Geno Smith, Ivan McCartney, Yodny Cajuste, as well as Bailey.  Bailey knows Florida football and at only 29 years of age would be relatable to young players. Not only is Bailey one of West Virginia's best wide receivers ever, he will also make an outstanding recruiter and representative of our university.  Although there are likely many great potential replacements out there (see: Clint Trickett, current tight ends coach at FAU and former WVU quarterback), Neal Brown should be on the phone with Stedman Bailey to make him the new Wide Receivers Coach at West Virginia University immediately.

Two WVU Football Targets Set To Announce Their Decisions Tomorrow

James Thomas, a linebacker out of Georgia made a visit to the Mountaineers on January 17th. Tennessee and South Carolina are also involved. WVU could really use the addition of an athletic linebacker. https://twitter.com/jay6_1969/status/1224678603750871040 Vic Koenning is the lead recruited here and the Mountaineers appear to be in good shape. Voice Prediction: WVU    View Highlights Eddie Watkins, a pass rusher out of Alabama, has taken several visits, including the Mountaineers on December 6th. He has announced his top 3 as Arizona, Missouri and West Virginia. https://twitter.com/Dareal_ed/status/1224720169643204610 He is planning on announcing his college decision at 2:30 p.m. EASTERN TIME on Wednesday. Coach Pogue has the lead on this one. Voice Prediction: WVU    View Highlights

Join Mountaineer Basketball Players for a Peaceful Protest TOMORROW

Gabe Osabuohien, a junior forward for the West Virginia Mountaineers, announced on his social media accounts moments ago that he will participate in a peaceful protest against the murder of George Floyd and the countless other cases of police brutality around the country. Osabuohien will be joined by West Virginia teammates Oscar Tshiebwe, Taz Sherman and Jalen Bridges.  In his message on social media, Osabuohien said, "Please join me and my teammates as we come together to march tomorrow at 10AM at the Morgantown Courthouse for #blacklivesmatter. Racism has no place in this country.  Justice is a right, not a privilege.  Join us by taking action." https://twitter.com/Go22_Lt/status/1267616196066783233?s=20

Neal Brown Reaches Out to Former Player

It has been over half a decade since former Mountaineer offensive lineman Quinton Spain took the field in Morgantown. Since then, he has made a name for himself in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. Today, current WVU head coach Neal Brown reached out to Spain to wish him a happy birthday, and tell him a home is waiting for him in Morgantown. https://twitter.com/nealbrown_wvu/status/1291905127704678403?s=21 Brown would wish Spain a happy birthday, and good luck in the upcoming season. What caught the eye of most fans, however, was that Brown would also tell him a “locker is ready” for him whenever he “comes back.” Neal Brown has made it a point to have former players involved, and this further drives that narrative. Quinton Spain is a huge part of WVU’s Big 12 history, and Brown recognizes and appreciates that.

Has West Virginia Lost Supporters After Black Lives Matter Support?

Morgantown, West Virginia - West Virginia University took a clear stance against racism and stood behind its athletes in regards to expressing their thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the world. The one superficial measure that the university took - allowng "BLM" and "UNITY" decals on the back of football helmets - enraged a large part of the West Virginia Mountaineers fanbase. Many labeled the Black Lives Matters as "Marxist", "dangerous", a "terrorist organization."  These fans threatened to not follow or support the Mountaineers until the university stopped backing this movement. In response to this and a West Virginia State Senator labeling "BLM" as "hate speech", West Virginia University released a statement saying, "West Virginia University and its athletics department must ensure a safe and equitable environment for our students and staff. We have an obligation to peacefully stand up against hatred, intolerance and racism.  Our student athletes and staff are united to bring about a positive and peaceful change to our great country. As Mountaineers, we would not have it any other way." In other words, the university would continue to support its student athletes and their rights to peacefully work to create change.  Detractors claim that "BLM" is not peaceful but rather a dangerous organization that should not be shown any support. With this said, it's difficult to determine whether if the West Virginia Mountaineers have lost any real amount of fan support.  Without fans in the stands and merchandise sales numbers unavailable, there's no real way of knowing if the university how much, if any, money or support it has lost in the last several months. However, it's apparent that West Virginia sports has taken a hit during this very strange time in history.  Not only has it lost an incredible amount of revenue from ticket sales, it seems to have lost the trust and approval from many people that call themselves Mountaineers from around the state. The only way to fix it?  Time.  Time and winning games.

Dan Dakich is Under Investigation

West Virginia's favorite color analyst for ESPN (sarcasm intended), Dan Dakich, has found himself in hot water. And to nobody's surprise, it is because of the one thing he loves more than anything in this world - tweeting.   https://twitter.com/DanWolken/status/1366146949620105217?s=20   According to multiple reports, ESPN is taking comments made by Dakich "very seriously" and "are in the process of looking into it." Over the weekend, the always mouthy former head coach who posted a .500 record at Bowling Green got into a spat with a professor on Twitter, and allegedly used comments that were seen as "misogynistic."   Dakich deactivated his Twitter account in the early afternoon on Sunday. He has since returned to the social media site.

Big 12 Should Encourage ‘Horns Down’ in Upcoming Season

Morgantown, West Virginia - At last week's Big 12 Conference Media Day, Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks said that the league will be cracking down on taunting for the 2021-2022 season. When asked about the horns down gesture that opposing players often flash during games against the Texas Longhorns, Burks was very clear about the consequences of doing that. ”Let me put it this way," Burks said. "If you do a Horns Down to a Texas player as an opponent, that's probably going to be a foul." That was before Texas and Oklahoma decided to leave the Big 12 Conference and go to the SEC.  Although the move is now inevitable, both teams will be forced to play the upcoming season in the Big 12. With that said, the Big 12 no longer has to go out of its way to protect the reputation of its most profitable school, the University of Texas. In fact, the Big 12 Conference has every reason to make the final year(s) of Texas in the conference as awkward and uncomfortable as possible for the Longhorns. Conference officials should not only reverse their previous decision to make "horns down" a penalty but actually actively encourage it for opposing teams and fans. Neither Texas or Oklahoma have done anything to make this inevitable transition easy or painless for the conference or any of the teams involved, so why should the conference or the teams directly affected do anything to make anything uncomplicated for the Longhorns or Sooners? The selfish decision by both teams not only will hurt every other team involved but also likely lead to the destruction of the entire conference. While Texas and Oklahoma are still around and before they jet off to the SEC, Big 12 teams and fans should be allowed and encouraged to show them just how much their actions are appreciated!

REPORT: Big 12 Targeting These Four Schools

Cover Photo courtesy of Matthew Green Morgantown, West Virginia - According to a report by 247 Sports Dean Straka, the Big 12 Conference is reportedly targeting four schools to replace Oklahoma and Texas. BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston.  If West Virginia remains in the Big 12 and the conference adds these four teams, there is a chance that they will remain a Power 5 Conference. Although not as sexy as moving to the ACC, this might be West Virginia's best hope of remaining relevant and competing for national championships for years to come. Also, imagine Dana Holgorsen bringing his Houston Cougars to Morgantown for a conference game! https://twitter.com/DWStraka49/status/1433466058711650307?s=20

West Virginia’s Old Rivals Could Soon Join the Big 12

Morgantown, West Virginia - There are so many moving parts in conference realignment right now, but the latest rumor that has come out today is that current ACC teams North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia are negotiating to join the SEC. How would this affect West Virginia? If North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia all leave the ACC, the conference would have a very difficult time surviving. If the ACC's top teams are poached, current ACC teams Boston College, Syracuse, Duke, Pitt, North Carolina State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami would all likely be left searching for a new home. If this happens, the Big 12 would be wise to add teams like Pitt, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Miami - many of West Virginia's old Big East rivals - to the current group of teams in the conference. Remember, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are already rumored to be headed to the Big 12. Adding Pitt, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Miami would make the Big 12 a coast-to-coast mega conference and it would give the Mountaineers regional and historical rivalries. West Virginia staying put in the Big 12 Conference with its former rivals appears to be the very best, most ideal situation for the Mountaineers at this point. However, again, this is a very fluid situation and could change in the very next minute. https://twitter.com/Braden_Keith/status/1545054860478799873?s=20&t=oWw01pF4kkQrPYOLpQ2QmQ

Huggins Extremely Unhappy With Player Effort and Performance in Loss

Cover Photo: AP  Cincinnati, Ohio - The West Virginia Mountaineers (6-2) fell apart late to lose to Xavier (6-3), 84-74 in the Big East/Big 12 Challenge. Following the game, head coach Bob Huggins was clearly unhappy with his team's performance, particularly late in the second half. Here's what Coach Huggins had to say after the loss: "We didn't guard and we didn't make shots in the second half. We had a chance to stay in the game and we missed consecutive shots. They went on the other end and they made consecutive shots. We didn't play defense. They played defense. It's all about attitude. We were a totally different team in the second half. We got in foul trouble. We didn't come back and respond in the way that you would hope that they would. We missed so many layups. We missed so many second-chance points. We missed wide open jump shots. We didn't capitalize on what we should have. The reality is, we gave them obviously too many second shots. We got second shots and we didn't finish them. We missed way too many free throws. They made shots at the end and we didn't. I hope our guys learned that I'm not going to put the West Virginia fans through what they went through last year. These guys have maybe one more chance and then we'll find guys that do what is asked of them. We'll clean it up."

JJ Wetherholt Named Mid-Season All-American

Mountaineer baseball player J.J. Wetherholt is having quite the season. Following a first half of the season that saw him lead the Big 12 Conference in hits, the sophomore has been named a Mid-Season All-American. He currently has a .462 batting average and has 54 hits on the season. https://twitter.com/voicemorgantown/status/1643398964014637058?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw   Wetherholt and the Mountaineers take on Marshall on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.   The game will broadcast on ESPN+.

Hope For The Climb

In any marriage, trust is absolutely essential.  Trust is built over time and is made stronger with time.  Even if a partner is unfaithful or gives their partner a reason to lose trust, trust can be rebuilt with transparency and effective communication. West Virginia fans are in a marriage of sorts with Head Coach Neal Brown.  We love and adore the West Virginia Football program and he is essentially the program as the leader of the team.  His personality is imprinted all over the team, he decides on which players eventually come to Morgantown to play for the Mountaineers and he makes the rules and creates the vision.  Neal Brown is West Virginia football while he is the Head Coach.  As his partner in this, we love him, we want to trust him, but trust of course is earned over time. Demanding that we trust his climb is unfair and goes against everything we as human beings are emotionally capable of.  We can certainly hope that things go well and give him every chance in the world to prove himself, but trust takes time to develop. There have been many areas that Neal Brown has earned my trust.  He is an outstanding representative of West Virginia University and our state.  He will not embarrass our state or university in any way.  In fact, he will always act appropriately and in the most distinguished, respectable way.  Unlike previous coaches, we will never have to worry about Neal Brown saying the wrong thing or being caught up in a scandal of any kind.  He is a clean, safe, good person.  He has earned that. I hope more than anything that Neal Brown is massively successful at West Virginia, that he wins many, many Big 12 Championships and competes for National Championships. He has my full and unwavering support as he attempts to climb to the top, but I don’t trust that he’s going to be capable of winning big in Morgantown yet.  I will continue to question him fairly and hold him accountable and push him to be better.  I love West Virginia University and our state so much, and I only want what’s best for it. When Neal Brown promised to “hit the reset button” during last week’s press conferences and make changes in the offense, I was excited.  This was what I was hoping to hear for weeks.  Brown lost some trust when very few changes were made against Baylor and the offense accounted for a mere 219 yards. That trust can be regained and I fully expect that it will, but you know what I trust now?  I trust that the West Virginia defensive line will play their asses off and that they are capable of stopping a really, really great team like they did on that incredible goal line stance against Baylor.  I was so proud of them that I could cry and I trust that they will do even more amazing things in the future.  They earned that. Marriage isn’t easy.  To be successful, you have to be transparent, you have to communicate with your partner effectively and you have to prove yourself every day until trust is earned.    Trust isn’t given, it’s earned and it’s developed over time.  Just like being in a marriage is often hard, being a head coach in the ultra-competitive college football landscape is hard and requires support, hope and a little bit of luck.  I will always support Neal Brown for as long as he’s the Head Coach of the Mountaineers, but I will also always question him, push him and demand the best from him.

BREAKING: WVU Cancels Classes Amid Coronavirus

With the recent fear of an outbreak of the Coronavirus, West Virginia University announced that classes March 23rd through the 27th would be suspended. However, classes will resume online for students. This announcement was made both by President E. Gordon Gee and the University via Twitter. Students who traveled home are also being asked to remain home until further notice. Stay tuned to The Voice of West Virginia for updates. https://twitter.com/WestVirginiaU/status/1237551682138951681?s=20

Local Group: Defund and Disband the WVU Police Department

Morgantown, West Virginia - The Solidarity for Equality and Compassion (SEC) of West Virginia University has called for the campus police department to be defunded and disbanded. According to organizer Sammantha Norris of SEC, "Police officers that are working on campuses need to be knowledgeable about the issues going on, on campus and in the world because they're a direct representation of the university." The SEC sent a petition to West Virginia University President Gee, stating that the WVU Police Department should be defunded and disbanded, and that funds should be reallocated to fund black university initiatives. The petition to President Gee says, "We want to thank you for your swift commitment to addressing racism on campus with open eyes and open hearts and proclaiming a personal responsibility to do better.  We are writing to urge you to rectify the white supremacist ideologies, ideologies that stem from the all white Board of Governors an the lack of black professors and leadership, that underlie our University with the same diligent attention that was put forth to address the COVID-19 pandemic because racism is a pandemic that spreads and devastates lives, as well." The petition lays out a five-step plan that is "needed to provide a safe and open University for students to attend from West Virginia, the US and all over the world." Prohibit Confederate flags and symbols on all public spaces of the University. Disarm University Police.  Having officers work under the campus name who carry firearms does not create a welcoming and inclusive space, especially for black, Indiginous, and people of color students and vistors. Require yearly bias and sensitivity training, as well as bi-annual town halls with the campus police so students and faculty can voice any issues, complaints and queries. Re-route a portion of the policing budget to aid in the mental and social welfare of students, particularly to the Carruth Center and the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Foster a working relationship with the Morgantown Police Department for any calls needing armed backup, as well as sporting and entertainment event backup. President Gee has not yet responded to the petition yet, but has been very proactive during this incredibly challenging time in history.