MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while wondering how often I'm going to find myself in Boise and Dallas, not to mention Colorado Springs and Annapolis:It's far from a done deal, of course. The Big East presidents approved a proposal to up the league's exit fee from $5 million to $10 million late Monday night, contingent upon either Navy or Air Force - or both - agreeing to join. Still, even if that hurdle is cleared, there's no guarantee all of the schools on the league's wish list will agree to come aboard.But it's a start, right? And if you have a better idea - and no, not the wishful thinking about an imminent invitation from the Big 12 or holding onto SEC hopes or forcing Notre Dame's hand or anything else people propose while assuming West Virginia is actually in a position to control such things - speak up.Will a $10 million exit fee stabilize the Big East? No. But again, it's a start. Maybe a $30 million exit fee would do the trick. Or $40 million. But that's never going to happen. So if you aren't asked to the prom by the Big 12 - and that's still just a notion, not a fact - you take these small, hopefully meaningful steps and run with them.And if that's enough to entice Boise State and Navy- there's little question the others would follow if those two jump on board - then the Big East has dodged yet another bullet.The motive here, of course, is to prop up the football part of the league enough to maintain its automatic-qualifying status in the BCS. And that should do the trick. Of course, nothing is guaranteed because this is all so fluid. Who is to say that in 2013 when the BCS contract expires, merely satisfying the old requirements - having enough Top 25 programs, etc. - will do the trick? By then, the requirements might well change.Think about it, though. In whatever formula is devised, it's going to be difficult to exclude a league with perennial Top 10 Boise, perennial Top 25 West Virginia, two of the three service academies and a geographic footprint that extends to virtually the entire country.At least that's the Big East's thinking, which is right now -like it or not - the only logical, rational course of action.nn
For the most part, Geno Smith has made pretty sound judgments this season as far as his decision-making at the line of scrimmage is concerned.Dana Holgorsen would disagree, of course. In fact, he constantly talks about how his quarterback is still in his infancy regarding such matters. But for the most part, you and I would never know the difference.
There was one occasion, however, when it was glaring. It came in West Virginia's 43-16 win over Connecticut when the Mountaineers faced a fourth-and-1 and Smith hurried the offense to the line and ran a quarterback sneak.It didn't work."I shouldn't have done it in that situation. My competitiveness kind of took over at that point, and I tried to kind of do it on my own,'' Smith said. "No one else knew what was going on. It backfired on me and I just have to learn from my mistakes.''
Simply running the sneak, though, wasn't the entire issue. It was how he ran it.Smith hustled the offense to the line, stuck his hands under center Joe Madsen and began barking signals. In most offenses that wouldn't be unusual.But Smith hasn't stuck his hands under Madsen's rear end during a game since last December.
Madsen's reaction?"What are you doing?'' Madsen thought. "What's going on? I had no idea.''Keep in mind, this is a team that runs even its victory formation - those clock-killing kneel-downs at the end of a game - from the shotgun. And there was Smith with his hands under center in the middle of a game.
"I looked under my legs to get the signal. We're all screaming, 'What's the play? What's the play?' '' Madsen recalled. "And he's just saying, 'Hurry up! Hurry up!' And I'm screaming, 'Yeah, but what's the play?'"And finally I look again and I see [Smith's hands]. I thought, 'All right.' ''Madsen eventually got the idea and snapped the ball. Smith went nowhere, although he did bounce out of the pile - sans helmet - and run forward after the whistle had blown."We've never worked on that,'' Smith said. "That was something I totally ad libbed and it turned out that it didn't work for us."Everyone was like, 'What's going on?' I took the snap and the tackles started pass-setting and my guard just stood there. It was kind of like I tried to go one against 11. It didn't turn out good.''No, but it was worth the effort, if for no other reason than comic relief.nn
I had a couple of questions posed to me Monday about the BCS standings, in which West Virginia is No. 15. The most common regarded the Sagarin ratings, one of the six computer rankings used in the BCS formula.If you look at the regular Sagarin ratings in USA Today, you will find West Virginia No. 14. But in the BCS, the Mountaineers are listed as No. 19 by Sagarin.The reason is that the BCS doesn't allow margin of victory to be used in any of its computer ratings. And that's a component of the Sagarin ratings.So Jeff Sagarin does a separate list for the BCS, minus the margin of victory element. And almost every team is affected by it.For instance, Clemson is No. 9 in the base Sagarin ratings, but jumps up to No. 3 when margin of victory is subtracted. Stanford, on the other hand, is No. 8 in the straight Sagarin ratings, but drops all the way to No. 15 in the one used by the BCS.In other words, no, it's not a conspiracy.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org