They're saying bad things about you, Ed. Horrible things.
Things like you didn't get along that well with your coach. Things like you and your coach hadn't spoken in months. Things like Rich Rodriguez might still be West Virginia's coach if only the relationship was smoother between him and you, Ed Pastilong, Mountaineers athletic director.
|Terry Bowden coached Auburn for five-plus seasons, going 11-0 during his first year, 1993. (Getty Images)|
Or maybe it's just this: West Virginia is still West Virginia, an amazingly overachieving program tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains. A charming little program that channels the coal industry in that both work damn hard to produce something good for the state.
Michigan? Well, it's Michigan. The gold standard, with a stadium that could fit the entire population of Morgantown inside it. Four times. The football program is a bit flawed and stuck in a rut right now. But that's why Coach Rod is on his way with all his youth and enthusiasm and ideas.
Meanwhile, West Virginia is living on the edge, on the brink of the most important moment in its football history. A questionable hire away from becoming ... Pittsburgh. Ed, you ought to be able to snag someone decent considering the coaching profession right now resembles your average scummy street corner. Hustlers and pimps -- OK, call them coaches and agents -- are working the market like a prostitute works her johns.
Hey, big boy, wanna party?
A little haggling. Cash speaks loudest. Wham, bam, thank you Fran.
The point is the person who replaces Rodriguez can't screw this up:
• There's a roster ready to make another Big East run (at least), and perhaps a pursuit of a national championship.
• There are some of the most loyal and loving fans in the sport. They don't criticize at West Virginia as much as they show disappointment. That's because residents know they're damn lucky to have what they have.
Call it Nebraska in the holler.
• There's R-Rod's legacy. The state has only 1.8 million residents but Rodriguez proved it can be done. The facilities have been upgraded tremendously because Rod said no last year to Alabama, using that as leverage to get an academic center and club suites.
So, Ed, this is not the time to choke like your team did against -- who was it again? -- oh, yes, Pittsburgh. It's not the time to go on a protracted search. The best man is a phone call away.
Who should West Virginia hire to replace Rich Rodriguez?
Anybody but Terry Bowden
Total Votes: 21,854
If you don't hire Terry Bowden now, Ed, all those things they're saying about you, well, don't ask us to defend you. This is such a slam dunk that Spud Webb could hang on the rim.
No, we're not talking about Nick Saban.
We're talking about a sure thing. A guy who comes with a built-in discount. Terry Bowden played at West Virginia. Terry Bowden's dad coached at West Virginia. Terry Bowden is so West Virginia that he might cop to burning a couch or two as a student. You might have heard of him, Ed. If you haven't gotten about a thousand calls by now urging his hiring, either the cell towers are down or Terry is pursuing monkhood in Tibet.
Either way, there is no downside to Terry Bowden. The record, sterling: a .669 winning percentage. The personality, winning. The coaching pedigree, impeccable. Seems to us there was an undefeated season at Auburn in 1993. The point is, dear Ed, not to let this disintegrate into a Michigan search where you're standing off an interstate exit ramp with a sign that reads: "Will Mess Up Search For Food."
The question is why Bowden stayed out of the game so long after leaving Auburn. He's comfortable. Bowden found out he could make a nice living as a speaker and college football analyst. Nothing wrong with that. Who needs the grind anyway? They hung his daddy in effigy way back when at West Virginia.
So you're wondering, Ed, why does Bowden need this? First, because he finally wants back in. Terry has said so since at least August when he decided to jump back into the profession. Second, he grew up in Morgantown while daddy was there. So any hate he had for the folks who hung the effigy has been eclipsed by the need to wear the headset in the city that hung his dad in effigy.
In the immortal words of the Mitchell Report, let's forget about the past. T. Bowden knows the place in the present tense and he knows football.
His interest became official when his publicist (publicist?) released a statement Monday with Bowden saying the actual words: "Coming home to West Virginia would obviously be the dream job for me."
The same publicist e-mailed CBSSports.com saying T. Bowden's website was blowing up. There were 35,000 e-mails. Thousands of page hits. Phone calls. Flyers dropped from a hot air balloon.
Don't screw this up, Ed. You lost a treasure. Now it's so easy. Please, hire a jewel.