Ye olde notebook: The big game of the week for West Virginia University's sports teams is tonight. The Mountaineer football team must beat South Florida in Tampa, Fla., in order to have a shot at a BCS bowl berth.
The sparks, however, don't stop flying for the school's athletic department at game's end.This Saturday, the men's basketball team has a chance to pick up some nice RPI points when it takes on No. 21 Mississippi State at 8 p.m. (ESPNU) in the SEC/Big East Challenge in Starkville, Miss.
The Bulldogs are also ranked No. 24 in the latest coaches poll. The reason? Wins over then-No. 18 Texas A&M and then-No. 16 Arizona in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. The 7-1 start is the school's best since 2003-04."I think they're good," said WVU coach Bob Huggins on Wednesday. "Dee Bost is probably a pro. He's a talented point guard. [Arnett] Moultrie is 6-10, 6-11 - and he's probably a pro. Renardo Sydney is very talented."The guards have great quickness and penetrate. The bigs are big. It's probably one of the best teams Rick's had there in a while.""Rick" is coach Rick Stansbury. And it's difficult to argue with Huggins on the point. Bost, a 6-2 guard, is averaging 17 points. Moultrie is averaging 16 and 10.8 rebounds.The gleam of hope for WVU's young team is Mississippi State did lose to Akron, which the Mountaineers just defeated.Huggins, by the way, said his team is healthy and suggested he'd continue his current starting lineup for at least one more game.
If you've been watching, you've undoubtedly spotted the sore spot: small forward. Keaton Miles is Huggins' best defender there, but in five starts is averaging .8 points (four points total) and 1.6 rebounds.Next up might be fellow freshman Tommie McCune, probably the best shooter among the candidates, or Aaron Brown, who was recruited as a shooting guard, but has been playing small forward.While Big East football had another atrocious season, the league's basketball season seems somewhat healthy. If you check the latest major polls, you'll see five ranked teams (Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette and Pitt) within the Top 25 lists. The first three are Top 10 teams.
But if you checked the Sagarin computer rankings before Wednesday's action, you saw the Big East was slotted sixth behind the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Atlantic 10. The league was just above the Missouri Valley Conference.Catch the note within the note? WVU's soon-to-be new league is No. 2, mostly on the strength of Missouri (which, yes, is leaving), Kansas, Baylor and, surprisingly, Iowa State. Texas A&M (also leaving) is in the AP Top 25 poll.
The Mountaineers, by the way, were ranked No. 64. Perhaps surprisingly, they were still four spots above undefeated Marshall, which just won at Cincinnati. According to the rankings, if the two teams played today in Charleston, WVU would be a 5-point favorite.If you've been wondering, Big East football teams finished 18-14 against FBS opponents, 5-11 against BCS automatic qualifying conference teams and 1-1 versus Top 25 teams.
It's so bad, apparently no bigger schools are set to cherry-pick the league's better coaches this year. That's bad.WVU's April Min, senior deputy general counsel, said on Wednesday that even though the pre-trial conference will be held today in her school's lawsuit against the Big East, don't expect a trial date to be set.
"Judge [Russell] Clawges will set a general schedule," Min said. "He'll set a term [for the proceedings], not an actual date."And finally ...
You might remember Mike Haywood, the former Miami, Ohio, head football coach who was hired by Pitt, then fired a couple weeks later after he was charged with felony domestic violence charges.Well, Pitt defensive tackle Chas Alecxih certainly remembers Haywood. And this week, he wasn't shy about his opinion on the coach."They fired our coach [Dave Wannstedt] and then, when Mike Haywood came in, all he said to us was 'Sit up in your chairs' - a real jackass that guy," Alecxih said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "but Todd Graham came in and said, 'You had a great coach before me,' which we did. Then he said 'We're going to take this program to the next level,' and I think they'll do that in the future."Our first meeting with Haywood, he came in with a wrinkled suit, the worst suit I've ever seen - it looked like he bought it at the Goodwill - and then he acted like we owed him something. He was very arrogant. And when we walked out of the meeting, we all said 'Wow, this is going to be our next coach?' So when he got fired, I was happy, and obviously we got a great coach in Todd Graham to come in."In other words, Alecxih didn't care for Haywood.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.