MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while trying to imagine Clint Trickett throwing passes to Ivan McCartney:
A month ago, whodathunkit?That's not to say that it will happen, of course, save for West Virginia practices. After all, Trickett has yet to suit up for a Dana Holgorsen workout. And while McCartney has done plenty of that, last season he started all of one game, caught but nine passes and then left the team and the school.So let's not all of a sudden fool ourselves into thinking Trickett's transfer in and McCartney's unexpected return suddenly change the entire dynamic of the Mountaineers' 2013 season.
They do make things a bit more interesting, though.Trickett, of course, was already at a school, Florida State, where it was obvious to him that he wasn't going to play. By all accounts, he's a heady kid who took his time deciding where to jump. Given that, it's safe to assume he jumped to a school where he thought he could play right away.McCartney? He might be the most highly regarded wide receiver West Virginia has recruited in a while, and yes, that includes the two newest St. Louis Rams. McCartney just never lived up to his billing, while Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey exceeded theirs.McCartney has decided to try it again with his one year of remaining eligibility, and so he enrolled in summer school. Holgorsen says he will treat the high school teammate of Bailey and Geno Smith like any of the other rookies, and know that that's a deep group after WVU recruited five new wide receivers, two of whom - Kevin White and Daikiel Shorts - enrolled in January and impressed during the spring.But if McCartney plays closer to his sophomore season (49 catches, 585 yards) than his freshman and junior years (a combined 10 catches for 116 yards), he could certainly help. By the way and for the record, West Virginia's season begins Aug. 31 with one of those games you just hate, William & Mary. Two weeks later is another one that makes you cringe a bit, Georgia State.That sounds like a pair of FCS opponents, but it's only one. Georgia State is beginning its first season on the FBS level and plays its home games at the Georgia Dome.In between those two, on Sept. 7, is a trip to Oklahoma, and after Georgia State is a game with Maryland in Baltimore.We bring that up in part to remind you of how the season begins, but also to set the table for what WVU's schedules in the coming years look like. Write these down with a pencil, though, because as we've seen very recently they are all subject to change. Remember, only a year ago the non-conference games for 2013 were William & Mary, East Carolina and Florida State.The following season, 2014, it's home with Towson State, on the road at Maryland and the opener at the Georgia Dome against Alabama. Before WVU moved to the Big 12 and its number of non-conference games dropped from five to three, the lineup for 2014 was Towson, Maryland, East Carolina, Michigan State and a TBA.In 2015, the non-league games are Maryland, East Carolina and Liberty, all at home. Michigan State was once in the mix, but was dropped because of the reduced number of non-league games needed.
And so far, the 2016 schedule hasn't been toyed with. It includes Maryland at home, East Carolina on the road and BYU in Landover, Md. In 2017 Maryland and ECU are on the schedule so far and in 2018 just ECU.The reason you should probably write those just in pencil is obvious. None of the schedules in the next three years are what they were a year or so ago and there could be other changes, especially when the new college football playoff folks get around to executing specific criteria (read strength of schedule) and the power conferences involved begin reacting to it.For the record, though, the way WVU's schedules are set up in the next few years pretty much satisfies the school's criteria for doing so, namely getting seven home games in order to pay the bills. The exception is this year, when the home and road games are at an even 6-6 split.In 2014 there are just six home games, but the neutral-site game with Alabama will be as lucrative as (or more so than) a home game. The same applies to 2016 with six at home and the game against BYU. In between, the 2015 schedule has seven true home games, oddly enough in a year in which there are just four Big 12 home games.Again, though, don't carve any of it in stone. And finally, one more football scheduling note. It also has to do with the temporary flood of red ink from the WVU athletic department thanks mainly to the move to the Big 12.
When athletic director Oliver Luck said last week that he hoped that WVU's deficit during the 2012-13 fiscal year would shrink from almost $13 million last year to less than $100,000 this year, at first I thought that WVU's home football schedule had something to do with that. After all, the Mountaineers had seven home games, including five Big 12 home dates, which are worth roughly $2 million each.Well, in some ways the home games did help, particularly from a concessions standpoint, where beer sales helped the bottom line. But ticket sales? Not so much.It's not that crowds were lousy (although they certainly could have been better), but most of the tickets to those games were actually sold during the previous fiscal year, 2011-12. As it turns out, that's where the money is accounted for on the balance sheet - in the year the department lost $13 million.It's not that big a deal, of course, but I did find it interesting. Consider this coming season, when WVU has just those six home games and no neutral-site game to make up for the shortfall. Most of the season tickets will be sold before the June 30 end of the fiscal year and that money goes on the books as 2012-13 income, even though it's for tickets to be used during the 2013-14 school year.All of which, at least to me, makes WVU's small estimated loss for this fiscal year even more amazing.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.