Pardon me while my mind runneth over:
n West Virginia — college soccer state.
Sounds a little weird, right? Look around, and it’s not as crazy as you’d think.
Start in Morgantown, where both the West Virginia University men’s and women’s soccer teams are nationally ranked to begin their respective seasons. The women will begin their season ranked 11th in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 poll. The men begin their season ranked 23rd. There are just eight schools in Division I with both their men’s and women’s soccer programs ranked in the top 25. WVU is one of them.
On top of that, the WVU women were picked to win the Big 12. And while the Mid-American Conference, where the WVU men play, didn’t put out a preseason poll, the only other MAC team ranked higher nationally than West Virginia is Akron at No. 3. So many expect the Mountaineers to be in the mix for conference titles in both.
Add to that two nationally ranked Division II men’s teams in the Mountain State — No. 8 and Mountain East favorite Charleston and No. 15 Ohio Valley University in Vienna — plus the No. 16 West Virginia Wesleyan women, then check out Marshall’s spot at No. 4 in the Conference USA preseason poll, the highest ranking the conference coaches have ever given the Thundering Herd. West Virginia may be small, but its college teams know their way around the pitch.
n Back to Morgantown and to the American version of football rather than the European. When first-year WVU coach Neal Brown announced that Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall would be the starter against James Madison, that was the best decision he could make given the situation. By last Friday, it became clear to Brown that Kendall was the right choice.
But let me put on a tin-foil hat and make a suggestion, one that concerns fellow WVU quarterback Jarret Doege and the recent NCAA rule change that allows players to participate in up to four games without burning a redshirt.
I don’t think WVU’s 2019 season is going to run off the rails. The Mountaineers should be competing for bowl eligibility the entire season. But if plans do go awry, there’s a golden opportunity available for Brown and Doege.
Brown didn’t factor Doege into the starter’s race for JMU. He wasn’t ruled eligible for this year until this week and had offseason surgery to boot. That doesn’t, though, knock him out of the race for the end of the season.
Of the four quarterbacks in the room, Doege’s resume is the most solid — 17 starts at Bowling Green, led the Mid-American Conference in passing yards and touchdowns last season. If West Virginia gets knocked out of bowl eligibility early, why not suit up Doege the last four games of the season (or three or fewer, depending on the team’s record) and put him in the mix to play? It could give the Mountaineer offense a leg up on next season and, if WVU isn’t going bowling, what would it hurt?
Again, that’s just an idea.
n When Brown inserted Kendall at the No. 1 QB spot, WVU became the latest program to adopt the trend.
Quarterbacks all over the country are transferring looking for starting jobs, and they’re finding them. Recently, Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts was named the starter at Oklahoma, Georgia transfer Justin Fields was named the starter at Ohio State, Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush was named the starter at UCF and Michigan transfer Brandon Peters was named the starter at Illinois.
For anyone grumbling about the increased turnover of college football rosters, what’s happened around the Football Bowl Subdivision just this past week is going to do nothing to slow it down.