The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

April 22, 2013

Was Geno Smith a racial bias victim?

MORGANTOWN — You may recall that recently a guy writing in Pro Football Weekly assaulted the talent, practice habits and character of WVU quarterback Geno Smith.

That damaging garbage, all untrue in comparison to my knowledge and coverage of the greatest passer in WVU football history, caused considerable feedback from people who knew better.

That came to a head in yesterday’s edition of USA Today sports section. The headline over the article read: ‘Racial bias builds hurdle for Smith.’ Beneath that is this subheading: ‘West Virginia QB is latest target of unfounded reports.’

Jarrett Bell, a member of the newspaper’s sports staff, was the thoughtful writer of that very fair story.

Bell was responding to allegations written by Nolan Nawrocki that Smith was “Not a student of the game. Not committed or focused. Marginal work ethic.”

Here is how the USA Today’s Jarrett Bell started his article:

“When a Pro Football Weekly scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith surfaced recently, containing damning proclamations by analyst Nolan Nawrocki about the habits of the top-rated passer in the NFL draft, it made me shake my head.

“Here we go again.”

Then Bell went on to cite two or three strikingly similar cases in which other great African-American quarterbacks also were victims in much the same manner.

It seems such an outrageous shame that anyone could commit in today’s society.

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 I hope those West Virginia University football fans attending last Saturday’s annual Gold-Blue intra-squad scrimmage were really excited by what they saw at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium.

I wasn’t. But I didn’t expect to be. As customary each spring, the Mountaineers show simple, basic plays with just an occasional play which really resembles a spectacular show of football brilliance.

But Dana Holgorsen, in his third year as WVU’s head coach, said afterward that “we accomplished what we wanted to.” He didn’t say what that was, though.

“The team we field in September is going to look a lot different,” he noted. “We have so many new guys coming in, and we have so many that are going to continue to develop.”

Holgorsen admittedly has been saying all spring, however, that “we’ve got a long way to go. (But) it was nice to see a couple of guys step up and make some plays offensively and defensively.”

The Mountaineers obviously were playing under wraps, though the coaches can’t afford to unveil the new stuff they’ve been working on all spring.

After 14 days of spring skirmishing and 75 plays (Saturday), Holgorsen thought what fans saw “resembled football.” But he hastened to add, “I don’t think it resembled high-level football.”

Happily, his players came out of the ho-hum effort healthy.


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