Dana Holgorsen calls out WVU fan attendance

27 Comments

At just about 11 pm for the past few nights, my Twitter feed has blown up with the same set of rumors.

“Source tells me Mike Slive is in Morgantown. WVU to SEC is a done deal.”

“Been told to expect an announcement about SEC membership tomorrow.”

And on and on it goes. As the great West Virginia sideline reporter Jed Drenning relayed, “Some moments are truly special. I’ll never forget where I was all 17 times West Virginia was officially-unofficially invited to the SEC.”

Indeed, the Mountaineer faithful have opined over the last several weeks that West Virginia would be a solid addition to the SEC as the league’s 14th member to the point of some truly believing everything they read. After all, did you not see College GameDay live from Morgantown? Did you not witness the 13,000 fans packing the Mountainlair plaza and the over 60,000 who crammed into Mountaineer Field sporting gold?

It was a big-time atmosphere. A cultural ying to the SEC’s yang. How could they say no?

But then, this past weekend, West Virginia laid an egg. A crowd of roughly 46,000 — 14,000 less than capacity — showed up to a cold, rainy and overall dreary afternoon to watch the Mountaineers lay 55 points on Bowling Green. Speaking with the media on Tuesday, coach Dana Holgorsen said that’s not acceptable.

“Whatever our expectations are with our players as far as preparing every week and going to the games and playing our best – I highly encourage our students and support to take the same approach. You only have seven opportunities a year.   What’s so hard about it? Was it too cold?  It wasn’t too cold for our players.  Wasn’t too cold for our coaches, managers or trainers.  They were out there.  So, why did we have 20,000 less people out there this week than last week?

“We’re all talking two weeks ago about how much difference the fans and crowds going to make to the LSU people. Well, LSU played well in front of 62,000 of our people and then turned around and went home and played a 1-4 Kentucky team at noon with 95,000 people there. You want to talk about an elite program?  That’s one.  I don’t know about this place.

“All I heard about was about how much this meant to everybody across the state of West Virginia and this was the NFL team here in town and we’re going to be there to support you. Having 40,000 people at a game isn’t doing that.  The only thing we can do about it is fix it.”

To be fair, it’s hard to get excited about playing Bowling Green and Norfolk State, the two home games that hosted crowds of 51,000 or less. It’s almost equally difficult to get amped for Big East conference play. There just aren’t any great teams or marquee games.

Asking people to come out in force for Cincinnati or UConn? Even AD Oliver Luck, a smart businessman, has to know that’s a stretch.

But Holgorsen was brought in for a reason: to re-energize Mountaineer Field after it was lulled to sleep over the past three years under Bill Stewart. So far, WVU’s offense has responded accordingly. Geno Smith is a top-five passer in college football and points are bountiful.

The WVU Mantrip, a new pre-game festivity created by Holgorsen, is an exciting way for fans to interact with their team before the game.

If West Virginia’s fans are as passionate and loyal as they claim to be, and if the quality of the product has been raised, then I agree with Holgorsen that there needs to be a reciprocating level from those in the stands. Holgorsen is candid, so it’s not really his M.O. to implore, but his sentiment is valid.

A consistent 60,000 in the stands won’t get WVU an invite to the SEC, but it will show they have the atmosphere to hang with it.

(Big thanks: WVMetroNews) 

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

UMass athletics
Leave a comment

It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.

Wisconsin new home for Houston transfer Collin Wilder

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nearly three weeks to the day he left a Group of Five program, Collin Wilder has landed at a school from a Power Five conference.

On his personal Twitter account, Wilder indicated in a tweet that he has decided to transfer to Wisconsin.  The announcement, replete with the defensive back pictured in a UW uniform, comes after he announced on the same social media site that he had decided to leave Houston.

A three-star member of the Cougars’ 2016 recruiting class, Wilder was rated as the No. 94 player at any position in the state of Texas.  Just one defensive player in UH’s class that year, five-star defensive lineman Ed Oliver, was rated higher than Wilder.

After playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, the native of Katy, Tex., played in the first two games of 2017 before he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury.

Wilder will be forced to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He will then have two years of eligibility at his disposal beginning with the 2019 season.

Bo Scarbrough takes jab at UCF with ‘real championship rings’ tweet

Alabama athletics
2 Comments

For the fifth time since Nick Saban took over, Alabama football players have added some serious bling to their personal collections.

At the football team’s annual Steak & Beans dinner Monday night at the Mal Moore Athletics Facility, both the student-athletes and coaches were presented with their 2017 national championship rings.  The thrilling overtime win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game was the program’s fifth since Saban came to the Crimson Tide in 2007.

The rings are, to say the least, impressive, encrusted with over 150 stones per the school.  Of those 53 represents the number of wins for this most recent senior class.

Saban’s six national championships as a coach, including one at rival LSU, are tied the legendary Bear Bryant for the most in the sport’s history.  The Crimson Tide has won a total of 17 national championships, the third-most in big-time college football history behind Princeton’s 28 and Yale’s 27.

Of course, numerous Crimson Tide football players took to social media to show off and celebrate their latest title hardware.  The best use of Twitter, though, belonged to running back Bo Scarbrough, who took a not-so-thinly-veiled jab at UCF and the Knights’ unveiling “the only 2017 undefeated national championship ring this past weekend.

Tim Drevno’s resignation letter to Michigan made public

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It appears we can finally, officially, put the Tim Drevno era at Michigan to bed.

In February, three days after Jim McElwain was officially hired as U-M’s quarterbacks coach and amidst rumors that the former Florida head coach could take over play-calling duties, Drevno announced that he would be stepping down as the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator. Drevno also served as the program’s offensive line coach.

Two months later, mlive.com obtained a copy of the coach’s resignation letter through the Freedom of Information Act. Drevno gave no specific reason for his resignation in the letter, stating only that he is “willing to help in any manner needed during the transition phase, but I fully understand if it is more appropriate to amicably sever ties in a more expedient way.”

Eight days after he left U-M, Drevno’s name was connected to a job at USC; two days later, the Trojans announced his hiring as running backs coach.  This marks his second stint in the Land of Troy as he was line coach and running-game coordinator in 2014.

Drevno, who was also on Jim Harbaugh‘s staffs at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers, spent the past three seasons in Ann Arbor. Under Drevno’s direction, the Wolverines’ offense was tied for 91st nationally in averaging 25.2 points per game this past season.