It was certainly nice to see my Mountaineers win the big game. I know it isn't the NCAA tournament, but I have to say that seeing my alma mater work its way to the NIT Championship was more exciting for me than this year's Big Dance.
I grew up in a WVU house -- both my parents are from the mountain state, my Dad played Basketball there (yes, in those days Basketball started with a capital letter at WVU), he did his doctorate there, my Mom was Miss West Virginia, and did both her undergrad and Masters there -- so Penn State was not very popular to us. Even though I grew up just 90 miles from Happy Valley in Bloomsburg, PA I disliked everything about the Lions and the University. I hated that they kicked my Moutaineers' ass every year like it was their job (other than the glorious 84 run with the Hoss and Major Harris' unreal 88 team). Since joining the University, I have come to realize that there is one man who actually made it the job of the team to do that -- Joe Paterno.
The old coach is as young as he wants to be, deserves to do whatever the hell he wants to, and in my eyes has earned the right to walk the sidelines until HE decides it is time. Here's a little insight ... three years ago I was at a Universtiy funtion and walked up to Joe and said, "congratulations on your new contract." Joe, who was surrounded by four or five big time donors, looked me square in the eye and responded, "thank you, but these guys want me gone b/c we haven't won enough the last few years." Their jaws dropped ... as did mine. I gave him a line my Dad always gave me when I wanted to see someone go, "they better be careful what they wish for." Joe then gave me a serious look and told me that within two years the Lions would compete for a ntional title. The people around him rolled their eyes .. I just looked into his. Last year the Lions were 1 second away from being undefeated and playing for a national title. Smart guy.
Since I've been a part of this place now for over eight years I actually find myself really rooting for the Lions in all ways -- from the football field to State funding. I am always amazed and impressed with the depth of this University across the board. I know Joe's influence has crossed over from the field ... the library is named after the guy for crying out loud, not the football stadium. He graduates kids, he protects kids, he is an educator first. He never lets winning get in the way of doing things right. The guy is a role model and is immortal -- a true legend in our time. Who else in sports can you point to and say they have done it right without question for so long. So even though I actually bleed Blue and Gold, I am rooting for the Lions to repeat as Big 10 champs and for JoePa to have another amazing year. A guy like Joe deserves to make a run every year.
Yep, it is that time of the year again ... football is in the air. As we all get ready to answer the bell, I am reminded of getting ready for the season. For me it was always the real football -- soccer ... 2 a days hurt a lot after a summer of fun, but by mid-October the work put in was well worth it. Figuring out how to create a new team that could go after a huge goal was always a challenge. Winning late in the season always made the effort disappear. I remember going into seasons with big expectations and having to work extra hard to maintain, extend, and realize those exceptions. I sort of feel like I am in the same boat now.
Given WVU's high hopes you are going to have to put up with me. Trust me, I know it is going to be a long shot, but just to have the Mountaineers in this position is amazing. Madeline has her WVU cheerleading uniform and the forthcoming Max has a jersey waiting for him. It is going to be an amazing fall, not just b/c WVU football could be good, but for a lot of reasons!
You know, that title annoys me too. Last weekend my wife, daughter, and I spent part of one our days off having a movie day down in our basement. We made some popcorn and rested in the dark watching the original "Wizard of Oz" ... my daughter, who is four and half, was a little freaked out but she loved it. I have thus walked around all week hearing snippets of songs from the film that she is singing that have just lodged themselves into my brain matter.
I don't have a ton to say other than a little observation about what the people at ESPN are doing. If you haven't spent any time over there in a while it might be good to do that -- not for the sports coverage, but for how they seem to just own every vertical in the information distribution game. Even on the web. Here's what I mean:
The have bloggers reporting from the World Cup, Wimbeldon, and every other sporting events out there. This doesn't seem interesting other than the fact that they are embracing at least a big notion of the read/write web. Smart sports people write stuff and we get to comment on it.
They have embraced podcasting with a vengeance. Not sure if you have seen their "PodCenter" or not, but you can get just about every single piece of content coming off the TV or radio here. They are repurposing media as well as anyone right now.
Those damn, Mobile ESPN commercials are campy and annoying but it shows an interest in attacking a very powerful market. They didn't just settle for being part of the "in crowd" with dominating the sports podcasting space ... they are going after some serious new ground with a dedicated phone with a dedicated service that sports its own interface and live streaming content. I don't own one, but would like to see it.
Speaking of content, you probably have noticed the whole ESPN 360 thing ... They have something like 10 channels of TV content. What is cool, for certain events they can simul-cast stuff on all their networks. Last winter they did it with the Duke vs. UNC game. If Public Broadcasting wants to know what to do with all those new digital channels, maybe they should make a trip to ESPN Networks and learn how to work your bandwidth. Oh, yeah, they do a boatload of radio stuff as well.
Their site spits out RSS for everything, they have dashboard widgets to keep you updated, and again they are repurposing their TV content via Flash-powered streaming media. There is more to explore.
So when I am asked why would we want to provide blogs, empower podcasting, and envision additional services for faculty and students I am going to start pointing them to ESPN.com to look at it all. Why not work the Web to offer as many opportunities as you can for faculty, staff, and students to take part in the digital space?
I am starting to think I should turn this into a WVU sports blog. Predictions this early are just crazy, but I have never in my life seen anything like someone picking WVU number one in football. Can I say that again ... never. Time will tell, but it sure does make me feel proud. I finally know what it feels like to be in the company with Michigan, FSU, Miami, and the other big boys!
I seem to be turning this space into a sprts blog ... or a WVU fan blog. Not sure which one. But over the weekend, the WVU Men's Basketball team went into Philly and beat previously undefeated and number 3 ranked Villanova. They didn't just beat them, they picked the apart as they have done to a bunch of people this year and last. It is a good feeling. There is even a big story about more than just the game over at ESPN.com ... and if prefer, there is always just the box score ... cool!
I was browsing the iTunes Music Store this afternoon and stumbled across a set of video based podcasts(?) for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Each is a 15 minute or so highlight reel from the games. Of course I had to grab the WVU v UGA game. At the start of it, Brad Nessler says something to effect of, "thanks to an unprecedented partnership between ABC Sports and iTunes what you are about to see is something we call Bowl Blast ..." Cool. Here is the link at the iTunes video store.
That's right ... my Mountaineers beat the Unviersity of Georgia last night in the Sugar Bowl! The Mounties were big underdogs going in -- and for a couple of good reasons ... WVUnever wins bowl games ... or big games at all (let's just say before last night they had lost 10 of their last 11 bowl games). I have been a WVU fan long before I did my undergraduate work there. My Dad's doctorate is from WVU, my Mom's undergrad and Master's is from there ... my family has lots of West Virginia history (no jokes) and it has always felt like home to me. I've watched WVU games for decades and I can never (and I mean never) remember them winning a game like this with so much on the line -- especially in January. Another reason is the whole Big East is a patsy conference thing. Sure, Miami, Va Tech and BC all split to join the ACC last year. But if you look at things, WVU has been winning that conference, or sharing league titles, for several years now. Not having three of the big four from the Big East around makes it a bit easier to get through the conference. Finally, they were playing the champs from the SEC ... the SEC is one of the top conferences in the country and man, are those teams fast.
Not last night! WVU jumped out 28-0 before UG made it a game. A great game at that. WVU ended up winning 38-35 ... a fake punt in the final few minutes at the UG 48 yard line sealed the deal. Since when does WVU run a fake punt on 4th and 6 to win a game? All I can say is it was an amazing win for WVU. They deserved it ... what a great team they turned out to be this year ... a bunch of freshman coming off a disappointing finish last year to post an 11-1 record and beat the champion of one of the best conferences in the country. Good stuff!
I was a basket case ... couldn't talk, wouldn't answer the phone, wouldn't move from my spot, wouldn't break my little "routines" that obviously won the game for us. Wow, a great win! Now, can the Nittany Lions do the same tonight? Here is a little screen cap stolen from ESPN.