Ye olde notebook: When the topic is buzz, there's Mitt Romney's "47 percent" video. There's Snoop Dogg's Rastafarian reincarnation to Snoop Lion. And then there's that buzz surrounding WVU's Big 12 opener Saturday against Baylor.
County singer Trace Adkins will be at Morgantown's Milan Puskar Stadium to sing. The place will have an absolute carnival-like atmosphere.
Expect that to carry over to the game. Expect that to carry over into the season.WVU coach Dana Holgorsen, experienced in Big 12 ways, has been warning all. And sure enough, he's correct. The only league that's averaging more offensive plays per game is Marshall's Conference USA (75.2). Of the BCS conferences, only the Pac-12 (73.8) is close to the Big 12's average of 74.The subject is tempo. And last week, Holgorsen was fidgeting like a child in church watching his team against Maryland."What they were doing . . . was huddling, getting on theball and then waiting for 30 seconds," Holgorsen said on Tuesday. "How they do that, I don't know. That's hard to watch."He won't have to watch it Saturday. Or most days from here on out."Maryland tried to take the air out of the ball," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson."Baylor won't care what West Virginia does on offense. You have two teams that want to go fairly fast."In Baylor's first three contests, the average total offensive snap count for the game was 165. (Of SMU, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe, the fewest number of snaps taken by a BU opponent has been SHSU's 83.) In WVU's Marshall game, 175 snaps were taken. Maryland, though, did slow the game, taking 65 for WVU's 68. The Mountaineers are averaging 72 snaps.In sum, buckle your badonkadonks for this one. The news that Holgorsen expects Shawne Alston to play tailback on Saturday has to be welcome to Mountaineer fans.
In the Maryland game, those fans saw what the absence of Alston means to WVU's offense. It went from almost unstoppable with a running threat to one-dimensional and vulnerable without one.The view from here is that running game could tip the scales in WVU's favor on Saturday. West Virginia's Geno Smith will be able to throw the ball. Baylor's Nick Florence will be able to throw the ball. The Mountaineer defense has a good shot at limiting Jarred Salubi and the Bear run game.If West Virginia has a healthy Alston, though, he'll be going against the nation's No. 87 run defense. BU is ninth among the 10 Big 12 teams in the statistic, allowing an average of 177.7 yards per game. WVU is a 12-point favorite, but the advice is not to gamble on the Mountaineers. They are 3-7-1 against the spread in their last 11 home games.
Bob Burda of the Big 12 said on Tuesday that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be on hand Saturday for the WVU festivities.
"He'll present the [WVU] AD, president and coach a commemorative game ball," Burda said.WVU rep Mike Fragale added that Bowlsby will handle the coin toss. Burda and Bowlsby, by the way, probably saw WVU athletic director Oliver Luck Tuesday.
The Division I-A Athletic Directors Association had a meeting in Dallas and the Big 12 had a piggyback get-together."Nothing really significant," Luck said of agendas. "At the Big 12 meeting, I'd think we'll get updates on the Champions Bowl, what cities are involved and the process. We'll talk about the BCS and the possibility of adding another bowl."Burda, by the way, spoke of the Champions Bowl, which will pit top teams from the Big 12 and SEC, as the Rose Bowl does with the Big Ten and Pac-12."There hasn't been a [site] decision made yet," Burda said. "Initially, we thought we'd know by late September. But [SEC] commissioner Mike Slive said that might be pushed into October."There apparently are five cities bidding and three - Houston, San Antonio and Arlington - are in Texas. The other two are New Orleans and Atlanta. The decision is expected to be between New Orleans and Arlington. Luck said bids on his school's third-tier media rights are to be submitted in early October.
"After that, we'll sit down with a committee and start analyzing the bids," Luck said. "One group dropped out, so I think we're down to eight [companies]." How did WVU line up Adkins to sing the national anthem?
Apparently, the singer's tour manager is a WVU fan from the Mountain State who met Luck at the Greenbrier Classic. A deal was struck if the game time allowed Adkins to get to a concert Saturday night. The noon kick worked. And finally. . .
WVU's Matt Wells explained the "stripe the stadium" promotion for Saturday's game. Those in even-numbered sections and in the upper level student sections will wear gold. Those in the odd-numbered sections and lower level student sections will wear blue.Apparently, the walls that encircle the field will have to represent the newest school color of gray.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.