Monday, October 6, 2014

Perspective

Today, October 6, 2014, my father turns 62 years old. It is an age that often isn't celebrated. It is not a milestone birthday, like 60. But this year, it is the most important birthday my family has ever celebrated. It is the most meaningful, emotional birthday I have experienced in my entire life. It is a date that will ultimately highlight 2014 and beyond.

There is one word to describe this transformation from just another birthday to the most important birthday:

Perspective.

If you know me or my family well, you are aware of the health issues my father is currently fighting. Getting a call from your father with the worst news imaginable, seeing your mother cry when you visit home, discovering medical-related books and evidence around your childhood residence--these are all things that give you perspective

When my father first received news of his diagnosis, I was devastated. I was too shocked to cry or react. Then I received a follow-up text from my father:

"WVU - Oklahoma 7:30 Fox"

How could he be thinking of a West Virginia football game at a time like this? This text message gave me a dawning realization. For years, I have labeled myself as crazy for WVU athletics. I have actually distanced myself from it because I thought it was an unhealthy obsession. I have stayed off message boards and left games early, because I thought it was weird to care this much about a college game. Honestly, it would cause me stress, anxiety, anger, and euphoria--sometimes all in one game. Now, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing weird about it all. In fact, it teaches us a valuable message that I would like to share with all of you.

Take something you are passionate about and invest all of your heart and soul into it.

I have friends who do this with their instruments. I have others who do this with their pets. There are others who do this with a girl they met last weekend downtown. I also know some who squander great opportunities and don't invest their emotions into anything. In reality, those kids you see LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) around campus are probably happier than all of us. Why? Because they care about something. They care about something so much that it doesn't matter what others think about it. In a world where Instagram selfies are perceived as cool, these people are labeled as "bozos with foam swords," opposed to someone with an amazing passion for something they love.

With that said, my father and I chose Mountaineer athletics to invest in--or rather, it chose us. The recent diagnosis of my father had me thinking about why this silly game played by college students has consumed our lives and determined our moods.

Over the years, our lives have revolved around who/what/where West Virginia University is playing. During my childhood, we would sometimes open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve so we could catch a flight on Christmas Day to various bowl destinations around the country. Our Thanksgivings often consisted of hotel dinners in Pittsburgh, since the Backyard Brawl was the next day. In the spring, we would head to Madison Square Garden for a week to watch our beloved Mountaineers play in the Big East Tournament. I would miss a week of school, but my parents did not care. In 2010, WVU advanced to the Final Four. I had just arrived to Myrtle Beach for Spring Break earlier that day. The next morning I booked a flight to Indianapolis to go to the game.

It may seem incomprehensible to let a sport be the axis that your life rotates on, and I started to believe this. I lost touch with WVU sports. I let other things take over, and I felt happier that I didn't know who #85 was or what time we played Saturday. I thought this was the right way to live. I could not have been more wrong.

Currently, I live in Arlington, Virginia, and I find myself rediscovering this passion for West Virginia University athletics. The three-hour drive home every weekend reminds me of the road trips my Father and I took to Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Rutgers. We would talk WVU football the entire ride and walk into every gas station on the way with pride, as we sported our gold and blue outfits.

Flights down south remind me of early morning and late night flights after WVU losses. I was a brat. I hated losing and didn't shut up about it. I was rude to my dad over it, because I clearly was the expert on all things WVU. My dad would then recite his famous motto:

"Don't let three hours ruin three days."

Do not let three hours of a WVU game ruin three days of father-son bonding. Now that is some heavy perspective. At the time I didn't get it. Now, I do. West Virginia athletics will always be there, but we won't.

So today, I have found my passion equilibrium thanks to my father's perspective. I no longer let the outcome of a WVU game determine how I treat others around me. All that matters is that we are alive and investing ourselves into something we are passionate about. I will say this. When West Virginia football/basketball wins its first national championship, my father and I will cry our eyes out together. If you think this is weird, then you're weird.

Today


In 2012, WVU's geographical footprint further expanded to Thailand.
My father has invested his emotions into 30 years of service for the WVU Alumni Association. On game days, it's evident how much passion he has put into developing relationships with others. Steve has spread this passion for WVU across the world, from Boone County to Southeast Asia. I would say this investment has paid off, as thousands of people have reached out to my family over the last couple of weeks.

Happy 62nd Birthday, Steve. When you put things into perspective, I would not trade this investment for anything in the world.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let's Just Go to B-Dubs

This simple phrase is uttered every time a discussion on where to watch the game arrises in your friend group. Several suggestions are thrown out there--most are local eateries/sports bars that make an honest living off of their business.

Then, the biggest idiot out of your group throws out his/her recommendation. It is a popular restaurant that haunts my soul, identity, and most importantly my colon.


"Dude, let's go to Buffalo Wild Wings. They have wings, beer, and sports."

So does every other sit-down american establishment in the United States. I realize it is often convenient to go to Buffalo Wild Wings because they are the vultures of chain eating. Its locations are often on the interstate or any high-traffic area in the country. Why? Because they realize that the franchise could not sustain itself any other way. Let me ask you this Buffalo Wild Wings: Why don't you use plates? Do you think your Prime Rib Slammers are too good for standard dishware? I think your salads are the only food items that find themselves on any type of decent tableware.

Seen here, a B-Dubs' employee was stabbed over a chicken salad


It takes advantage of hopeless, hungry middle-class Americans every day it has existed since its rebranding in 2011. No birthday parties happen at B-Dubs. No special occasions occur at B-Dubs. It is where you settle when you just got off work, and you are too tired to think logically.

"Blehhhh. My boss yelled at me and my glasses are smudgy. Let's just eat at B-Dubs."
I would yell at you too if I was your boss. You clearly do not put in 100% at work, nor do you care about being here. Just take the rest of the day off, slacker. There is a Screamin' Nacho Burger at Buffalo Wild Wings with your name on it. I can only imagine the nuclear waste your body creates after consuming that abomination of a menu item. Yes those are nachos on a cheeseburger. The research and development team is obviously hard at work over at ol' B-Dubs. You make me sick, Buffalo Wild Wings. Grow up.

Screamin' Nacho Burger is "nacho" stomach's friend
Yes, Buffalo Wild Wings probably markets better than any chain restaurant in the country at the moment, which explains their exponential growth. That is because they spend more on marketing than they do towards the rest of their operations.

Since they cannot afford to serve quality ingredients, they serve you dog turds in the form of bar food. Last time I checked, chicken was not supposed to have the consistency of a Jello Jiggler. Am I eating chicken wings or bubble tape covered in Heinz EZ Squirt purple ketchup? Everything on their menu is frozen, from the produce to the burgers. There is nothing fresh at B-Dubs, and when you pay your cooks next to nothing to prepare it, there are probably some health violations being broken in the process

When you visit the FAQ's on Buffalo Wild Wings' website, they give you a garbage answer for, "Do you provide recipes for any of your menu items?"

"Our recipes are kept secret in order to keep Buffalo Wild Wings unique. We appreciate your interest in our menu selections, and hope you'll visit a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant to enjoy our signature flavors.  You can always purchase a bottle of any of our 16 signature sauces to take the Buffalo Wild Wings flavor home with you."
There are so many things wrong with this paragraph. First, thank god you keep those recipes a secret. You wouldn't want your competitors stealing your prized "mini corn dog" recipe. Seriously, who do you think you are calling your appetizers "sharables?" I would rename them "IDon'tCareables" because every single item is filthy and disgusting. Sure glad I clicked on your "Macaroni & Cheese" for menu details and got this:


Apparently the macaroni and cheese has ingredients you can only appreciate if your eyes are dilated, like the background image. Finally, some honesty from Buffalo Wild Wings. Bravo. I have no idea why you would like the "Buffalo Wild Wings Macaroni & Cheese" page on Facebook anyway. God forbid any of my friends and family find out I ate that slop. I can't wait to receive updates from that page.

I have another issue with you referring to your sauces as "signature." You are right though. They are signature. No other wing shop is using gasoline, cat vomit, and TetraMin Fish Flakes to coat its chicken wings. You are truly unique. So happy that you provide this bottling service in case I want bloody stools at home or on-the-go! Thank you for the convenience!

Nothing is expected of me, so I'm going to B-dubs
Dear god look at those things. Most of you, including myself, have actually consumed these. They even have to label the wings with a sticker because the cooks don't even know what they just created. Think about this. A human had to put that sticker on; which meant he/she probably touched the adhesive backside of the sticker; which means everything that person has touched that day went on the back of that sticker and then near your food. This includes bathroom breaks, sneezes, and nose-pickings.

"Dude who cares? They are just wings. Plus they have beer and sports, too."

Get out of my life. I don't need someone like you in my life who has no regard for their body or others around them. I have never smiled in a B-Dubs nor will I ever. I am pretty sure everyone is sweaty and at their worst state in Buffalo Wild Wings. I think James Franco went to Buffalo Wild Wings after filming the last scene in 127 hours. I bet he wished he had eaten that prop arm he amputated instead of the buffalo chicken sandwich at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Let's check out the dining atmosphere at Buffalo Wild Wings:

"Why do mommy and daddy hate me?"
"SIT STILL EMILY AND EAT YOUR DAMN BUFFALITO OR YOU ARE SLEEPING IN THE GARAGE AGAIN."

"I know you done said you wanted medium, but the urine really adds to the tangyness of the sauce."

"I want to go back to Vietnam."

"The PH Level of Skip's saliva is almost at 0, YOU CAN DO IT SKIP!"

So next time you and your friends are trying to figure out where to watch the game, avoid Buffalo Wild Wings. It is in your best interest to never consume that microwave-nuked sludge ever again. By the way, in that last photo I can't tell if that is Skip's lower lip or a piece of chicken. That image alone is enough information for me to avoid B-Dub's, and it should be for you as well. Also, "B-Dubs" sounds like the nickname of every douche bag in my marketing classes at WVU. Maybe that's why I hate it.

But anyway, I digress.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here's to Morgantown, West Virginia

For the last few weeks, I have considered a few pathways into constructing a celebratory graduation blog from a Morgantown-native's perspective. At first, I decided on writing an ode to Morgantown with a poetic structure. Then I thought to myself, "Who do I think I am, Shel Silverstein?" If you are not from Morgantown, you do know that the sidewalk did end at Rain Nightclub. Anything beyond Rain was uncharted territory; however, it is these irregular spots that truly made Morgantown wonderful.

With that said, to cater to my all of my readers I will write a little more in-depth about what made going to school in Morgantown sort of awesome and sort of life-threatening (near the latter stages of this journey).  It will be a "cheers" to Morgantown and will act as a unique timeline throughout my "townie" existence from a socially awkward teen into...a socially awkward adult.

Being from Morgantown, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else. But that time will come, and it will be sad packing up and moving elsewhere. Around every corner is a memory; whether it was playing wiffleball with my fellow Cedar Ridgers in my backyard as a kid or the first cigar I smoked on Tom Jaworski's porch or my last night at Fat Daddy's. I am sure you fellow townie's could say the same. If you have only furthered your education here, you still have a cornucopia of meaningful stupid lasting memories about this place. Trying on my cap and gown was rough, as I am sure it was for a lot of you. But I look forward to rehashing the stories I've created here in Morgantown.



Childhood

Here's to the Krepps and Marilla pools. Although I probably contracted some sort of staph infection scraping my back skin off the Marilla green slide, a summer was not complete without a trip to these cool-down spots. And I do not care how old you were; you were never too old to cause a ruckus in the Krepps baby pool jungle gym area.

Here's to the first Dairy Queen on High Street (next to Casa). After little league, it was common to head on down to Dairy Queen and stand in the monstrous line. The fun part was guessing which event would occur first: getting hit by oncoming traffic because you are in the middle of the street or ruining your uniform with hot fudge or purple Mr. Misty syrup. Either way, these trips will always be memorable.
She's bulletproof, nothing to lose.
Fire away, fire away.

Here's to the Midway Arcade at the Morgantown Mall. Saturday afternoons were always spent with my girlfriend, Big Bertha, hoping my beautiful lady would eat enough plastic balls to buy my next package of pogs. 

Here's to the 87 Morgantown parades that encompassed our entire middle school lives. Planning a vacation? Forget about it! There was a parade for every occasion, and the entire city of Morgantown shut down as politicians and boy scout troops threw 80 mph banana laffy taffy fastballs at our skulls. I'm pretty sure my parents voted for the Monongalia County political representatives based on which ones tossed us candy.

Here's to summers on the lake. And summers at Blue Hole and the Falls. You were always just one step off the Old Iron Bridge from a free colonoscopy. Then again, I never did jump the right way from these heights. My jumping technique in these instances could be compared to a last place pumpkin drop entry at St. Francis.

Here's to the Italian Oven's pasta straws. And Pargo's queso dip. And Rax's...free soda refills? And Uno's pizza. And Ray's Pastries. And even Damon's Grill, which proved that even its bald grill cooks could somehow work one of their body hairs into your steak salad.

Here's to Hills Department Store, where the free popcorn was the only reason your family shopped there (no one really cares about Ames, seriously).

Here's to...that smell. Everyone knows that summer smell that hits your nose as soon as you see a tree in South Park. It's a certain smell that will not be further explained, as I have family that reads this blog.

Here's to Margerie Gardens, which taught me a valuable childhood lesson--tell your dad baseball practice ends 15 minutes before it actually does.

Here's to the Christmas, Easter, & Halloween (list goes on and on) lighted house. Every year, that one house near the Pines Country Club would cause sleepless nights for its neighbors and put its entire residential development on inferno watch. But, but, but...it was pretty cool. 


Here's to Hometown Hotdogs. Which directly promoted the saying, "don't judge a book by its cover." Or in this case, "don't judge a hot dog stand by its asbestos levels."

Today

Here's to Club Z, O2, Slevin, 228, & Recovery. Without you, the nightlife in Morgantown would not be as unpredictable.

Here's to Mutt's, which I still believe has a curse on Mountaineer Athletics since its closing.

Here's to Thursdays. Without you, I would be a more productive citizen in this community. I would also not be referred to as "that kid" in all of my Friday 8:30/9:30s since my Junior year.

Here's to Fall Fest, which put any freshman's doubt on whether WVU was a good choice or not to rest.

Here's to WVU Up All Night, the best and worst thing to happen to you on a given night. The freshman 15 is earned here. It is where the scrambled mess of WVU students is more appetizing than the scrambled eggs.

Here's to the Bent Willey's Deck. When that blow-up bottle of captain gets plopped on top of the roof, I know summer has officially started. A few benders down and one could go from the 80s room to the ladies room without having any idea how they got there.
"We found love in a hopeless Rain"

Here's to Rain, where the urinals and bathroom floors were the best of friends. No matter what happened to you on a typical night out, you could wander down to Rain and find your friends while "Levels" and "We Found Love" blasted over the speakers. I could honestly rewrite a separate blog post on the pure awesomeness of Rain, but I would most likely rehash old memories and spiral into a pit of depression. I don't think I could ever eat at the Fondue Factory, based on what I have seen go on at Rain. Let's just say Rain was a fondue factory way before the actual restaurant was in place.

Here's to Casa D'Amici and its Friday/Saturday night convenience. I went there for lunch one day and it was kind of odd to a see what a garlic knot actually looked like, even though I have ordered them for years.


Here's to fake-fakes and real-fakes. In Morgantown, it made all the difference.

Here's to nights at Joe Mama's with 3AM Tokyo performing. Some of my favorite nights in Morgantown happened here.

Here's to Sports Page for never changing what made you great to begin with. Establishments in Morgantown have changed every year to keep up with the times, yet Sports Page has always stuck to its classy roots. I commend you.

Here's to Fat Daddy's, the best marketed bar in Morgantown. The only place where you can pet a donkey and contribute to a record breaking performance in consecutive nights. Sweet Caroline (Eat Shit Pitt) is a much appreciated tradition here that needs to be passed on to every generation at WVU.

Here's to Jimmy John and Alan the taxi driver, the future best men in my wedding.

Here's to Los Mariachis, the 21st birthday spot for a good majority of us. There is no point of even ordering food here, as the pounds of chips and salsa we all consume before the actual meal could be featured in a TLC special.

Here's to the hundreds of protesters I have encountered over the years outside of the MountainLair. Your graphic and disturbing signage made uncomfortable trips to Sbarro that much more uncomfortable.

Here's to the townie Mug Nights at Chicn'bones during Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks.

Here's to Jim Clements and Gordon Gee, the university presidents during my time at WVU. Both men are class acts and we are lucky to have had both serve during our undergraduate careers.

Here's to Panama City Beach, Cancun, or any other hot spot for WVU students in the Spring. It's a bummer leaving these destinations, because of the sheer craziness and fun that occurs there. We all have our own stories and believe we had a better time than everyone else on spring break. And that's all that matters, and that's how it should be.

Here's to my fellow Greek members. You all are walking mugshots that could collapse at a Saturday morning philanthropy from a variety of medical causes. At your condition, they would have tossed your ass off the wagon if you were on the Oregon Trail. Sunglasses and spearmint gum are your saving graces. If you entered your hangover symptoms into WebMD, it would say you are 6 months pregnant. Of course, that's probably because those symptoms are:
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • crankiness
  • pickle-cravings

Here's to that "Welcome to West Virginia" sign that gives you chills when you return to Morgantown from break or any other trip. I hate that West Virginia University gets a terrible reputation for being a drunk, college town. However, I take the party school reputation as a compliment. There are birthday parties, graduation parties, Halloween parties, among other types of parties. It basically means we are among the most social college students in the country--a reason why graduates go on to be great leaders in their fields of work.

Here's to Morgandise, not Morganhole. We may joke around, but in reality Morgantown is a wonderful place to spend your college career. 

Here's to returning back to Morgantown five years down the road for homecoming and singing country roads in the stands at Milan Puskar Stadium. It has been said that West Virginia residents spend half their lives trying to get out of the state and the other half trying to get back in it. I don't plan on staying in Morgantown, but I know I will miss it to death every day.

Here's to the best friends you will ever make and the best times you will ever have in your life. It is where irresponsibility is accepted and praised for its pure, spontaneous beauty.

Here's to Morgantown. Morgantown, West By God Virginia.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Cork: September 27, 2013

Hello all. I have had a slight hiatus from my blog. Don't worry. It WAS medical related. Anyway, I was asked some great questions over the duration of this absence, and I would like to answer a few.


Cork,
Cute girl at the office was going out for lunch wednesday and asked if I wanted long john slivers or KFC. I said "I don't know" and she bitched me out for giving her a "Kanye shrug." Did I just blow my chances?
-Bill
 Well Bill. First off let me say thanks for following this email with another clarifying the whole situation.
Bill again. I really just wanted a burger from Dairy Queen, if that clears the air.
It does clear the air. Nothing better than a Heath Blizz to sit on for the second half of the work day! I think you have a reason to be upset. Although Kanye is grammy award winning artist, fashion icon, and humanitarian, a shrug isn't an endearing move on your part. Unfortunately, women hold grudges and you have probably lost your chance. Don't worry though. If she's willing to leave the office to suck down some greasy cod and malt vinegar at lunch, then she probably isn't one you take home to the 'Rents! Thanks Bill!



Daniel Ruby here. Recently I wiped down my television screen with a loin clothe and some ammonia (never doing that again), and it left a greenish film that affects the color. I think I ruined the TV because I never remembered Al Roker being this blue! Anyway, do I toss the thing out or can the color be fixed in the menu (it's a samsung)?
Unfortunately Daniel, I think your television is ruined. An old trick of the trade that I've developed over the years is to keep anything ending in "-monia" away from all electronic devices. My poor Aunt Sally came down with a wicked case of pneumonia last January and all of the mucus caused a build up on the screen. Let's just say no one looks good with flem on them, not even the Duck Dynasty boys! And Al Roker IS that blue (if he was green he would die or however it goes).



Recently I have been rather particular about my oral hygiene and started brushing 3 times daily. It's caused some gum irritation and (although my teeth seem whiter) I've developed a sore on my cheek bone. Friend at the office says its a canker sore, but he can be a bit dramatic at times. I mean, the guy stormed out of the office one day because no one else wanted to have our christmas party at the Elk's Lodge. Anyway, I am convinced that some sensodyne or trident chewing gum will do the trick. Am I not brushing enough? -Larry S.
Larry,

3 times a day is an awful lot, even for a floss happy gentleman like myself. I would probably schedule an appointment with your orthodontist immediately as you are probably causing life long gum damage. I know it can be frightening to look in the mirror and not like what you see, but hey; what are gums good for anyway? Nothing. Good luck!



Cork: Alanis Morissette or Jewel?
Um, how about BOTH. No? While Alanis tends to sound like she's been chugging Robitussin by her 3rd set, I enjoy her extremely vague lyrics and sheepish monotones over Jewel. Appearance from the nose up: definitely Jewel. 



Thank you all for your submissions!


Friday, August 23, 2013

8 Days Away from Mountaineer Football

We all can remember a play that stands out in our mind over the years. It is a moment that is engraved in your mind. It is an experience you share with your friends and will share with your children. Since we are 8 days away from kickoff, I will rank the 8 Plays That Shaped Mountaineer Football in the BCS Era. As you are reading them, think back to where you were and what you were doing.This list was incredibly hard to make. I didn't know whether to include negative plays like Michael Vick's scramble in '99, the Miracle in Morgantown, or Kellen Winslow Jr. shoving a dagger into my soul with a 4th and 13 catch that moved the chains with 1:05 on the clock. Also, the game that shall not be mentioned had a few plays that left me too shocked to cry. I didn't know which plays to leave out because it's like ranking your favorite offspring. Anyway, I'm digressing again. On to the list.


 8 Plays That Shaped Mountaineer Football in the BCS Era

8. Pat White's 50-yard scamper
In weeks prior, West Virginia had lost all National Championship hopes when they lost to South Florida in Tampa. The spotlight was off of the Mountaineers up until this game. We had dismantled Syracuse, Mississippi State, and Rutgers and were ranked #6 coming into the Thursday night rivalry game. WVU got out to a large lead early. Pat White proceeded to fumble WVU back into a tie game with 1:35 remaining in the 4th quarter. But, in typical Pat White fashion, he made up for it.  

What did it mean: The Mountaineers won the game 38-31, making it back into the top 5 with wins over Cincinnati and UConn. West Virginia had its first ever #1 ranking ever, which is pretty significant. Once again, WVU was back in the National Championship picture, which is obviously great for recruiting. Most of us were there watching it live. Current players on the team watched it on ESPN and fell in love with the Pat White/Steve Slaton combo that will never be forgotten in College Football. 

7. Tron Martinez's unfortunate fumble :(
Marshall has never beaten WVU (and never will) in football, but they came awfully close on September 10. 2010. It was a warm night in Morgantown and all of my friends gathered to watch the game excited to see our #23 Mountaineers destroy the Herd. The first 51 minutes were pretty sobering, that's for sure. But in typical Marshall fashion, up 21-6 inside WVU's 10 yard line, they choked. It would have been the greatest win in Marshall's history, but a guy named "Tron" shouldn't be expected to hold on to a steering wheel, let alone a football in front of a national audience. He fumbled and Geno Smith led an unbelievable comeback that crushed all of the souls in Huntington that night. WVU won 24-21 in overtime. Yes I watched the rest of that youtube video.

What did it mean: I think the pure fact that we avoided losing to Marshall is good enough. Morgantown was ablaze, as all of our students celebrated an improbable victory. WVU stayed in the rankings, which later produced a big matchup in Baton Rouge against LSU. What it really did was show Mountaineer fans the future of the program. It gave us promise for years to come. Geno Smith was an outstanding leader that night and had a great career. Stedman Bailey had a couple of clutch 4th quarter grabs, per usual. Tavon Austin had a few catches and would eventually become a first round draft pick. I still love you Tay-Tay.

6. "Owen Schmitt...like a runaway beer truck down the sidelines!"
Out of all of the plays on the list, this is probably my favorite. Owen was such a good Mountaineer and a great character that fans around the country loved. After the Fiesta Bowl, Owen had a postgame interview with Fox  that we still love watching. I remember this hilljack Sooner fan and his idiot 8 year-old son were sitting in front of me talking smack the entire first quarter of the game. This was the first play that shut them up for good. It was one of many plays that the Fiesta Bowl produced that could have been on the list, including Pat White's numerous touchdown passes and Noel Devine's touchdown runs. WVU won the Fiesta Bowl 48-28 over the Oklahoma Sooners.

What did it mean: West Virginia was not expected to win, obviously. We were a long shot to even compete. Rich Rodriguez had left the program after choking away the biggest game in our history. What this game really proved was that WVU was a prominent program. Schools have great years and bad years. Winning this game meant three straight 11-win seasons for the Mountaineers and would give them a preseason top 10 ranking the following season. While this game wasn't the most important win, it was our program's finest hour in my opinion. All the negativity that followed us through December was overcome by Bill Stewart, Pat White, and Owen Schmitt's leadership. It gave us a speech that will be replayed for the rest of our lives. It gives us all chills and sometimes a tear. Rest in peace, Stew. 


5. Brian King's interception in Blacksburg
God, do I love this play. WVU went into the game 7-3 against the #12 Virginia Tech Hokies in 2002. If you were like me, you stayed up all night to watch this Wedneday night rivalry game and screamed your head off much like Tony Caridi and the MSN staff did on the call.  Earlier that year, we lost to #1 Miami, the eventual National Champions, in Morgantown in a relatively close game. Virginia Tech only needed a field goal to tie and they were in our red zone with plenty of time left. Brian Randle, the Hokies' quarterback, didn't need to make a stupid throw like that. But he did. The play is so great, because it was so unexpected. I remember sitting on the couch waiting to watch us lose. We won the game 21-18 and it created a matchup of two top 25 teams the following week when we played Pittsburgh at Heinz. 

What did it mean: Well, for starters, it was the first time we were ranked in quite a long time. You will have to fact check me on that one, but it produced a ton of excitement for the Mountaineer program. It was our first 9-win season since 1993. It got the Mountaineers out of the rather boring pit they had sat a decade in. We would eventually get crushed in the Continental Tire Bowl by Virginia, but it was Rich Rodriguez's first prominent victory as head coach. It also started a streak of 11 straight bowl game appearances by the Mountaineers.

4. Quincy Wilson's "unbelievable run"
I know, I know. How can you possibly rank the greatest run in our history at #4? Simply put, we lost the game. That is not saying the play was insignificant, because it still made it into the top 4. As mentioned earlier, Kellen Winslow Jr. shoved a hot knife into my heart that night. WVU lost 22-20 in what is still the most painful defeat I have witnessed in my life. Sure, the "game that will not be spoken of" was worse but not as painful. The Pitt game left me in shock and disbelief. The Miami game made me want to off my 12 year old self in the back alley of Casa. I cried a thousand cries and didn't sleep for a week. Anyway, Quincy ran around and through future NFL starters in a truly unbelievable display of heart and determination. I still watch the play to this day and wonder to myself, "How the hell did he do that?" What is even more mind-boggling is that Rich Rod called a half back screen on 3rd-and-long. 

What did it mean: It showed that WVU was no longer a "gimme" win. We were no longer that cellar dweller that would be a cake-walk for Miami or anyone. After the game we were 1-4, but it felt like we were 11-0. The Mountaineers would rattle off a 7 game winning streak and win a share of the Big East Championship, which was pretty cool. "The Run" gave us some national publicity. To be fair, it is definitely the best overall play in Mountaineer history. There are others that were more significant, but not as impressive. It didn't shape our program, however, as much as these final 3.

3. Adam Bednarik's Foot Sprain
I'm sorry Adam, but your injury was one of the best things to happen to Mountaineer football. That is a distasteful statement, but it's true. I liked Bednarik, don't get me wrong. He was a decent quarterback and used to truck through Syracuse defenders. In the 4th quarter of WVU-Louisville in 2005, Adam Bednarik went down with a foot injury that would give Pat White the permanent reigns to the Mountaineer football team. The first half of the season, both players split time at quarterback (with Bednarik starting and getting most of the reps). Pat White, as noted, took over. It was the most amazing comeback in recent WVU history. Did you leave early? I'll be honest. I couldn't or I probably would have. I was a young buck and was outside the stadium passing football with my friends. When their fathers left, I was left alone. So, naturally, I went back into the game. I kid you not, I remember sitting back in my seat with 9 minutes left in the game. I remember everyone around me saying that Bednarik looked to be hurt. Pat White came in, and we had nothing to lose. We got to see the redshirt freshman from Alabama give us a taste of the future. No one expected us to come back and win, though--especially not 46-44 in triple overtime. 

What did it mean: Shit, it meant everything. We went 10-1 that year and won the Sugar bowl. Pat White won multiple Big East Offensive Player of the Year awards, and set school, Big East, and national records. The golden age of Mountaineer football was created by Adam's foot sprain. Crazy to think, huh?

2. Steve Slaton's first 52 yard touchdown run
If you are a true Mountaineer fan, you can probably recite Brad Nessler's call pretty accurately. West Virginia was 10-1 and ranked #11. We were matched up against #7 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and were set to play the game in the Georgia Dome, the Bulldogs' backyard. I remember the days leading up to the game creating a weird set of emotions for me. It was a combination of Christmas morning and your last meal before execution. It was the biggest game I had ever witnessed in my life. The media told us we had no shot, and I sort of believed them. The build-up to the game was crippling. My nerves were getting the best of me and my heart was pounding hours before. We forced a punt to start out the game, which was great. Still, Mountaineer fans had no idea what to expect. Our offense was actually moving the ball well, but a holding penalty halted us. 2nd and 20...our own 48 yard line...draw play to Slaton. We would eventually hold a 28-0 lead in the second quarter. We literally could not be stopped. My family and I were pretty speechless. Somehow, they came back. The lead was 38-35. Now we had to punt. No way we hold on for the victory.



1. Phil Brady's fake punt
"And now they're gonna fake it!" Yes. YES. No one expected it. It was the ballsiest call I've ever seen. It was a display of coaching brilliance. 


What did it mean: That run basically meant that WVU was not screwing around. We didn't show up to enjoy what Atlanta had to offer. We weren't happy just being there. We came to win. The first Steve Slaton touchdown eased the nerves and helped build a 28-0 lead. Slaton would later have another 52 yard run that I thought, at the time, closed out the game. We won our first of three BCS games. The other 2 were definitely a product of this first one. West Virginia was a pretty big afterthought. Georgia had to play Big East Champion West Virginia? Who is there quarterback? Who is their running back? I've never heard of them. They're both freshman? Pat White, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, and Darius Reynaud built off this monumental victory and escalated the program to levels we hadn't seen in a long time. The Mountaineers were on magazine covers and on the front page of ESPN. All of this  was in light of the devastating Sago Mine Disaster  that affected the entire state of West Virginia. iThe Sugar Bowl win made West Virginia University Football relevant, and it wouldn't have happened without Phil Brady's fake punt.


Honorable mention: Grant Wiley's goal line stop vs. Virginia Tech, Chris Henry's overtime touchdown catch against Maryland, Rasheed Marshall to Travis Garvin to upset Virginia Tech, Bitancurt's field goals against Pitt and USF, Pat White's touchdown run at South Florida in 2005, Wes Ours diving touchdown in Don Nehlen's last game, and John Pennington's acrobatics against Pitt.

If you read through all of this, thank you and I hope you enjoyed it. There are probably a few spelling errors, but get over it. If you think one missed the cut, leave a comment or shoot me an email. 






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

10 Days Away from Mountaineer Football

Today, I will be doing something a little different. Everybody is excited for Mountaineer Football being 10 days away. Why not make a few lists as the season nears closer?


The Top 10 Forgotten Soldiers of WVU Football (players who once had promise but fizzled out rather quickly or left the team)

Before I begin, let me note that there are no players before 2000. Let's face it. WVU football from 1998-2001 was not very good, therefore there are few promising players that are memorable. Anyway let's begin.

10. Mark Rodgers: A running back from California, this guy was touted as a speedster that would compliment Jock Sanders and Noel Devine pretty nicely. Unfortunately, Rodgers had the field vision of a Saturday night at Crockett's. Wearing #23, his go-to move was returning kick-offs into his own blockers, opposed to open space. 

9. Pernell Williams: His freshman year, he showed so much promise backing up Kay-Jay Harris and Jason Colson (mostly mop-up duty). He had a couple TDs against Rutgers and Temple that gave Mountaineer fans a glimpse of the future. Himself, another player on this list, and Jason Colson, were set for a 3-running back attack in 2005. Unfortunately for Pernell, but fortunately for WVU fans, Steve Slaton came on the scene and took over.

8. Jordan Roberts: This one is a bit sensitive, considering he was the Kennedy Award winner and had a great spring game at WVU. To this day, fans will talk about Jordan with spite. Personally, he just wasn't better than the running backs on the roster ahead of him. Some of you believe he didn't get a fair chance to play or show the coaches what he could do. Who knows? Maybe if he stuck around, he could have produced. Anyway, he had an extremely productive Division II career and is currently on the Kansas City Chiefs roster as of today.

7. Evan Rodriguez: No, this one never produced any statistics. However, his recruiting film was impressive and he was on campus briefly. After an altercation, he left the team and enrolled at Temple where he switched to tight end. He was drafted in the 4th round by the bears, but is currently taking first-team reps in camp with the Miami Dolphins.

6. Barry Brunetti: In 2009, WVU got their second consecutive Elite 11 quarterback commit (traditionally, the ESPN RISE Elite 11 is a list of the top 12 high school senior QB's in the country). However, he sat behind Geno Smith collecting dust on his shoulder pads. Honestly, he was not that good to warrant a competition. He did not show any flashes of potential, and Geno was never going to lose the job. He was best known for screaming like an idiot in the MountainLair. No one really blamed him for transferring to Ole Miss (instead of taking the Jarrett Brown route and being a back up for 3 years). In fact, he was slated to start in 2011 against BYU after the quarterback in front of him was arrested. He had an underwhelming first half and was pulled in the second quarter. He is still a back-up and received a drug-related misdemeanor this summer. You do you Barry.

5a., 5b. The Roberts Twins (Vance and Vernard): Vance, a 4 star cornerback, and Vernard, a 3 star running back, were two of the biggest recruiting pick-ups for WVU in 2011. WVU was thin at running back, and Vernard actually saw significant playing time as a freshman, including a TD at Maryland. These two, along with Trey Johnson, left the team that year as WVU won the Big East and Orange Bowl. We probably could have used Vance these past couple of years as he is having a somewhat successful junior college career.

4. Brandon Barrett: If you take a look at the Rivals top 100 recruits from 2004, you will see Brandon Barrett, wide receiver from Martinsburg, at #45. Notice the players in front of him. He was 8 spots behind Calvin Johnson and 17 behind Marshawn Lynch. After failing to qualify his freshman year and failing to stay in shape his sophomore year, Brandon came back his junior year in a good position. He had one of the more memorable spring games in WVU's recent history and looked to be a potential contributor to WVU's National Championship campaign for 2006. Unfortunately, he wasn't and left Mountaineer fans asking, "What if?"

3. Gino Gradkowski: When Gino Gradkowski, an offensive lineman from Pittsburgh, chose WVU over Pitt, he was an instant favorite to Mountaineer fans. Gradkowski was rated a 4-star by Scout.com for the class of 2007. He redshirted his freshman year, but saw limited action the following year. In the spring, he went the way of Joe Flacco. He transferred to Delaware, became a star at the FCS level, and was drafted by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Currently, he is fighting for the starting center position for Baltimore. WVU really missed out on this gem.

2. Quinton Andrews: This one still frustrates me. Quinton was an absolute monster. Basically, he was a Jahmile Addae clone. He could do it all. He was second on the team in tackles his freshman year (led in interceptions with 5), fifth his sophomore year (led in pass break-ups), and second his junior year. Quinton always had off-the-field issues though. He hit Pat White in spring practice when it wasn't allowed. Andrews was arrested in 2007 and dismissed from the team his senior year and enrolled at North Alabama for Terry Bowden. To this day, it bothers me how good he could have been with the right guidance.

1. Jason Gwaltney: Yeah, everybody knows the story here. A 5-star running back out of New York, Gwaltney was supposed to skyrocket the WVU program when he chose the mountaineers over USC on ESPN. The WVU faithful saw multiple Heisman Trophies in his future when Jason committed to the Mountaineers. In the fall, Gwaltney had 2 touchdowns against Maryland. However, Jason had more issues than we knew at the time. Jason was injury prone. He had academic and attitude issues. He couldn't keep his weight down and was just flat out lazy. He was arrested this February as he tried to make a run at the NFL and remains one of the biggest recruiting busts of all time. Jason Gwaltney and Jonathan Hargett would probably be pretty good friends.




Do you disagree or have any others you believe should have been on here? I don't want to hear about it so don't send me an email. 


Friday, August 2, 2013

Dear Cork: August 2, 2013

Sorry everyone. I have been a little busy, so I haven't gotten back to your questions in a couple of weeks. With that said, I have received tons of submissions but I can only answer 4. Here are my favorites:



Cork,
I ordered a rubber oven mitt in the mail. Upon receiving, I discovered that the item was not what I ordered. I was expecting more of a catcher's mitt design because I play hot potato on Wednesday nights. What gives?
(the author requested to remain anonymous) 
Well friend. I can understand your frustration. Let me guess, UPS Ground? Anyway. After further researching the matter, the word "mitt" is a root of the word "mitten." Mittens traditionally separate the thumb with the other 4 fingers encasing them in a cotton womb for your hands. Next time, email the website asking for a preview of the item you are ordering before purchasing it. I had this problem when I ordered a "Vibe Rater" to gauge some of my family members' attitudes come Christmas time. Let's just say Aunt Rita won't be spending the holidays with us anymore!




Corkus,
I have a pressing issue. I desperately want to tell the girl I have been dating, not my girlfriend, that I have a vicious foot fetish that simply cannot be tamed unless I get my fill for feet every morning before I start my day. Even brushing my teeth has to incorporate the foot or I won't be able to concentrate at work. Do you prefer Qdoba or Chipotle?
 -Brian D., Morgantown
Well Brian D., this is a matter that could have its own blog post. I have given Chipotle numerous opportunities to blow me away, but it hasn't. My first trip was a positive one. Pretty decent meal. My second was when I walked across the Clemente Bridge after the Kenny Chesney concert. It was subpar (even after a few lime spritzers). The third trip was terrible. Limited menu item with limited toppings and gristly steak. I have been there 5 times and it gets worse every single time. So I refuse to go back. Qdoba is awesome. Thanks for the question Brian D. 




I don't appreciate some of your views in this blog. I actually love steak sauce and you are probably a douche in real life. Lindsey 
Probably? If you only knew.




So Clark,

I'd consider myself a good looking guy.  But I have my eye on this girl who is just drop dead gorgeous.  I'm afraid she may be too hot for me and I'm not trying to compete with other guys for her.  What should I do?
 
Best wishes,
Sexy Greg 
I believe in divine intervention. You will run into her eventually and have a conversation.You seem like a straight shooter. And you are a good looking guy greg! I can tell by the way you write. No shame in being cocky. Women love a guy who will put on his sunday bests and cut-a-rug on the dance floor. Next time you see this girl at your local watering hole, approach her. Compliment her slacks or something. Personally, I wouldn't do that. But that seems like something sexy Greg would do! Thanks Gregory!




Send your questions to corkdigresses@gmail.com and I will answer them next time.