Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Report: Wannstedt out at Pittsburgh

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Dave Wannstedt took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers before the 2005 season, his charge was to "bring Pitt to the next level."  At the conclusion of the 2010 season, the Panthers announced their bid to a bowl in January.  But it was not the January bowl that Panthers fans had hoped for out of Wannstedt's tenure.

Fanhouse's Brett McMurphy reported on Tuesday that Dave Wannstedt's time at Pittsburgh has come to a close.  After six seasons only added up to a 42-31 record, three bowl appearances, and no Big East titles; the Pittsburgh program clearly feels it is time to look elsewhere.

Frank Cignetti will fill in as the interim coach for that thrilling BBVA Compass Bowl against Kentucky on January 8 in Birmingham.  The bowl will have an odd feeling for Panthers fans, after watching Connecticut take the field against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a week earlier.  A month ago, the Panthers controlled their own destiny in the Big East, and looked ready to finally get that conference title Wannstedt was hoping for.  But after losing to the Huskies, and getting blown out by rival West Virginia, the Panthers found themselves jumbled at the top of the standings holding no tie-breakers.
Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Dion Lewis, Pitt love the snow

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Pitt needs some help from its Big East brethren if its going to win the Big East and head to the Fiesta Bowl next month, but first the Panthers have to pick up a win on the road against Cincinnati.  So far, so good.

At halftime in Cincinnati, in the snow, the Panthers hold a 21-10 lead, and look like a team that should have been playing in snow all season.  While the offense hasn't been perfect, particularly the passing game, but it has been efficient given the playing conditions.  The one person who seems to be benefitting the most from the snow is running back Dion Lewis.

At halftime Lewis has 164 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  His season high coming into today's game was 130 yards against Rutgers back in October.  It looks like Lewis is taking advantage of his shiftiness in conditions that don't exactly make it easy for defenders to cut and change direction smoothly.

If the kid played in Alaska, he might end up the greatest college football player ever.

As for the help Pitt needs from the rest of the Big East, the Panthers need West Virginia to lose to Rutgers, and at halftime in Morgantown, WVU is up 14-7.  They also need UConn to lose to South Florida, and that game will be played tonight.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:27 pm
 

Despite downfalls, Wannstedt confident for future

Posted by Chip Patterson

A week ago, many believed that both coaches in the 103rd Backyard Brawl were entering the game with their jobs on the line.  West Virginia stunned Pittsburgh at home, holding them to just one touchdown in the 35-10 victory.  While coaching rumors may have swirled with Bill Stewart retirement rumors, things appear to be fine in Morgantown as the Mountaineers still have a chance to win the Big East and earn a bid to a BCS bowl game.

The Panthers, on the other hand, will have to deal with a second (or worse) place finish in the conference despite controlling their own destiny at the beginning of November.  By dropping crucial late-season tilts against Connecticut and West Virginia, Pittsburgh stepped aside and allowed both teams to break through at the forefront of the Big East.  It was suggested that head coach Dave Wannstedt, hired to bring Pitt "to the next level," might have a closing window of opportunity in Pittsburgh.  His 41-28 record with the Panthers includes no conference titles, and only two bowl games in five seasons.  But Wannstedt seems confident his job is safe for now.

"We're trying to win Saturday," Wannstedt said at his weekly news conference. "I'm not concerned with [job security], we're just trying to beat Cincinnati. Trust me. We aren't going to graduate many players, we have a great future and a lot of recruits committed and a good young team coming back, really."

Wannstedt proceeded to list the key injuries and provide further explanation for the Panthers troubles.  But injury reports do not always work as appropriate excuses for unhappy fan bases.  When Pittsburgh was sitting in first place, I circled this date with Cincinnati as a trap game for a team with BCS hopes.  Now, it may have become a must-win for their head coach.  Even if Wannstedt has the support of the administration and his staff, the fans will be calling for answers if the Panthers drop three of their last four conference games in a season that started with a No. 15 ranking in the polls.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:50 pm
 

Big East could lose spot in Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's some news that the Big East will love to hear.  On the same day that the conference will make the announcement that TCU will be joining it in 2012, it sounds like one of the teams currently in the conference could miss out on a chance to go to the Champs Sports Bowl this season.  The bowl game has the option of replacing it's normal Big East tie-in every four years with Notre Dame, and it sounds like that may be the case this season.

Talking with the Chicago Tribune, Champs Sports Bowl CEO Steve Hogan says that the game will give strong consideration to Notre Dame following the Irish's victory over USC on Saturday night in southern California.

"I guess the way to say it is that they're a very attractive, strong candidate amongst maybe a short list of maybe one or two other teams that we're looking at, that have to really play out this coming Saturday," Hogan told the Tribune.

"They played their way back into it. Their whole body of work is pretty impressive, when you look at some of the losses and the closing wins. That's a team that certainly seems to be on the way up and that 7-5 is stronger than maybe it looks at first. They're right there in the middle of it, and we got maybe one or two other teams that can play their way into that argument Saturday. And then we'll debate it, knock it out and make a pick."

The one Big East team that the bowl is likely to consider over Notre Dame?  That would be West Virginia.  If the Mountaineers win this weekend against Rutgers, there's a chance they'd finish the year 9-3, ranked, yet out of the BCS picture should UConn beat South Florida and win the Big East.  If the Champs Sports Bowl wants to go with quality of team, it'd be hard to say that a 7-5 unranked Notre Dame team is better than a ranked 9-3 West Virginia team.

Of course, raise your hands if you think that bowl games actually care about that as much as they do filing seats and making money.

Exactly.  Something tells me the idea of having Notre Dame fans flocking to Orlando and filling the stadium will look a lot more appealing than West Virginia's ranking when all is said and done.  Whatever the case, we should know next Sunday.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 3:47 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 11:41 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 27)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1.) With Win, South Florida Joins The State Elite - While Miami's loss to South Florida certainly jump-started some major program changes in Coral Gables, the Bulls' upset victory marked a significant moment in the USF program, and the career of first-year head coach Skip Holtz. South Florida has only been playing football since 1997, and only in Division I since 2001. The Bulls' victory over Miami gives a good portion of 2010's squad an in-state ACC sweep. A season ago, it was B.J. Daniels who stepped in for injured QB Matt Grothe to lead the Bulls to victory over Florida State in Tallahassee. This year, it was freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld who stepped in for the injured Daniels and led the team to a victory at Miami. Eveld completed only 8 of 15 passes for 120 yards, but managed the game well to help South Florida withstand a furious charge by Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes offense. For Skip Holtz, the win helped bring a good landmark for an otherwise rollercoaster first season as head coach for a BCS program. The struggling passing game did not spoken well for the offensive minded head coach, but Holtz has been able to coach up this squad from a 3-3 start to staring down a potential fifth straight 8+ win season. Accomplishing that will be more difficult than it sounds, with Jordan Todman and Connecticut coming to town playing for the conference title.

2.) Jordan Todman Leading Connecticut Title Surge - At the end of this definitive weekend in college football, South Florida was not the only new addition to make a statement in the Big East. Added to Division I officially in 2002 and the Big East in 2004, Connecticut stands one win from the first BCS bowl berth in program history. The Huskies have caught fire in the second half of the season, conveniently during the backlogged conference schedule. Wins over West Virginia and PIttsburgh has given Connecticut the tie-breaker edge against all the contenders, and now they control their own destiny. Much of the credit on the offensive end has to be credited to running back Jordan Todman. Todman has broken the 100 mark in 9 of his 10 games this season, and averaging 175.6 yards/game in his last three outings. Todman even left Saturday's showdown with Cincinnati and returned to finish with 31 carries on the day. So far there has been no stopping Todman, and if the Huskies can carry this win streak to the Fiesta Bowl Todman will start getting a lot more (deserved) attention from the league.

3.) Home Struggles Stain Otherwise Successful Season for Syracuse - The Orange have had one of their best seasons in nearly half a decade, but still something seems sour as Syracuse closed 2010 against Boston College on Saturday. After all, a team that hadn't seen a bowl game since 2004 should be excited about a seven win season. Right? Unfortunately, Syracuse fans will be asking the "What If's" for a long time after watching their team finish the season losing three home games in the last month of the season. At the end of October, Syracuse was 6-2 with a 3-1 conference record that had them in the early conference title talks. But the late season collapse that has been characterized by a stagnant offense has demoted the Orange to the middle of the pack in the Big East, simply playing for a bowl with better swag. As a former offensive assistant coach, those questions will have to be answered by Doug Marrone. However, it should be stated that Syracuse has done a great job turning the program around from their recent struggles. But when it comes time for season ticket renewals, don't be surprised if a 2-4 home record (0-4 against FBS teams) keeps ticket sales down in the Carrier Dome.

4.) The Backyard Brawl Could Have Two New Faces In 2011 - Heading into Friday's 103rd meeting of Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the losing coach might find themselves in danger of becoming unemployed. After all the dust cleared in West Virginia's 35-10 manhandling of the Panthers, there is a chance that both schools could be looking for new head coaches for 2011. Predictably, the late-season struggles of the Panthers have Dave Wannstedt on the hot seat in Pittsburgh, but recent reports suggest that West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart may be considering retirement. Both teams have been perennially competitive for the better part of five years, but neither squad has been able to capitalize on their fast starts in 2010. Stewart fell into his position after Rodriguez departed for Michigan, and Wannstedt was brought in to bring the Panthers to the "next level." Trips to the Meineke Car Care Bowl do not exactly count as "next level," and Wannstedt might want to think about taking some pens home from work.

Posted on: November 27, 2010 10:41 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 10:42 pm
 

Report: Bill Stewart to retire

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Suddenly there are quite a few big name schools with coaching vacancies to fill if you believe the reports circulating on Saturday night.  First we heard that Miami will be firing head coach Randy Shannon -- though this is yet to be confirmed -- and now it seems that West Virginia may have an opening as well.  

Though this one won't be due to a firing.

According to a report, West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart is going to retire at the end of the season.  This is from a report on EerSports.com, which is a pay site and can't be viewed without a subscription.  There has been no official word on this from West Virginia or Bill Stewart.

Still, the same report also says that former WVU assistant Rick Trickett who now serves as Florida State's assistant head coach is a top target to replace Stewart, along with both Terry and Tommy Bowden.

Stay tuned to CBSSports.com for more information on this story as it develops.
Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:24 pm
 

Connecticut capitalizing on opportunity so far

Posted by Chip Patterson

When West Virginia toppled Pittsburgh in the 103rd Backyard Brawl, Connecticut suddenly had a reason to extra thankful this weekend.  The Panthers loss opened up the Big East conference championship race to the Huskies and Mountaineers, with the prize of a BCS bowl berth at the finish line.  Connecticut has been on a tear since starting the conference season 0-2.  They have knocked off West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse on their climb up the standings.  Now with two weeks left, the Huskies own the tie breaker against the top teams in the conference and control their own destiny.  Connecticut has seized the opportunity so far against Cincinnati, leading 24-10 at half.  

Jordan Todman has continued his impressive performance on the ground, creeping up on the 100 yard mark in the first half.  Todman has broken the 100 yard mark in every game except a 26-0 shutout loss to Louisville, and is averaging 155 yards per game in the Huskies current win streak.  It is awfully impressive to think that a team that just joined Division I is on the verge of a potential BCS Bowl game, and a huge credit to head coach Randy Edsall for getting them to this point. 
Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Backyard Brawl sets up wild finish in Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

So far in 2010, the Big East conference has lacked many defining or memorable moments in conference play.  Those moments that every team in the conference will remember that game that changed the landscape across the entire league.  It feels fitting then, that one of those performances came in the 103rd Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia.  The Panthers entered the game sitting in the driver's seat on the way to a BCS bowl game.  A win over their rivals on Senior Day in Pittsburgh could put the Panthers just one Connecticut loss away from that coveted automatic bid.

Unfortunately, the Panthers have failed to shake the late-season struggles that crashed their conference championship hopes a season ago.  Pittsburgh entered this same weekend in 2009 undefeated in conference play, only to lose back-to-back games to West Virginia and Cincinnati to finish the season.  On Friday, Pittsburgh started this home stretch just like last year with a 35-10 loss to the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl.  With the win, West Virginia has turned around a disappointing middle of the season and set themselves up with a chance to win the conference.  

But the biggest winner in the Big East on Friday was Connecticut.  If the Huskies can pull out a win against Cincinnati at home on Saturday they will be one win away from their first BCS Bowl appearance in program history.  Connecticut just joined the conference in 2004, and nothing would be a higher compliment to Randy Edsall and his staff than to finish 2010 as the Big East Champions.  The best advantage the Huskies have in the race is owning the tie-breaker against both Pittsburgh and West Virginia thanks to their current three-game winnning streak.  

But with Pittsburgh's loss on Friday, it sets up a fantastic finish for the Big East title.  The Huskies control their own destiny, but with one loss could open the door for West Virginia.  West Virginia just needs a win next week and one Connecticut loss to clinch the conference, and Pittsburgh can still finally grasp that conference title with a win over Cincinnati and one loss from both West Virginia and Connecticut.  

Regardless of who your dog is in the fight, all eyes will be turned towards Storrs on Saturday.  The Huskies, the one team who controls their own destiny, will take the field against a Bearcats squad that has the chance to spoil title hopes for two teams.  Critics will argue that this finish is a result of season-long mediocrity, but the football fan in all of us is happy with the added significance to these late-season conference battles.      




 
 
 
 
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