The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 19, 2014

A notebook of facts, figures and opinion

By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN —  Stringing together some odds and ends that may interest you:

-- Belated congratulations to well-known Charley Whiston of Westover, who recently celebrated his 98th birthday. The longtime friend is remembered as a five-time sheriff of Monongalia County. Whiston also served several years as voluntary manager of Morgantown’s American Legion baseball teams in state summer competition.

-- The recent four-game suspension of Tom Yester as Morgantown High boys’ basketball head coach still bothers me. He’s accused of an assault charge which he denies. I have known this gentleman for more than 30 years as an outstanding, successful coach with seemingly good character. Yester also served a stint as coach at University High in Morgantown.

-- The thought herein is that WVU desperately needs to find winning ways and restore its badly sagging football program than spend $5 million updating with a new auditorium for watching film. That has to be laughable to some coaches and players that were so successful for many, many years.

n I’m told by a friend that a Charleston sports writer, in what the friend interpreted as an obvious attempt to justify WVU’s 2012 entry into the far-away Big 12 Conference, said it was its only option. OK, if the Big Ten or another major conference considerably closer to WVU offered a berth, it would have cost $50 million in the league’s exit fee.

-- The late Fred Schaus, a great and very knowledgeable WVU athletic director in the 1980s, envisioned a group of six or eight mega conferences. He thought that each would have at least 16 schools, or maybe 18. I don’t think there’s more than 14 in any of the majors today.

-- In that connection, Marshall University seems to be content — at least for the present time — as a member of the Conference USA. As one who took six credit hours there in 1942, I know I’m perfectly pleased with the Thundering Herd’s 10-4 record in football last fall.

-- John “Doc” Holliday obviously did a great job in his fourth year at the Huntington school. He was an outstanding linebacker here in the 1970s and also is a former assistant on Don Nehlen’s coaching staff, too.

-- Have you noticed that the increasing cost of football and men’s basketball game tickets may be beginning to hurt attendance for games at WVU and other major universities? Having to pay $20 or more for parking — which used to be free — could be another factor keeping more longtime season-ticket buyers home watching games on TV.

-- My friend George Bright tells me that the late Mike Barrett, an all-time great basketball player at West Virginia Tech in the 1960s, was honored on Jan 25. A portrait of him was unveiled at the school before former teammates, his wife and longtime friends.

-- Barrett, a Richwood native, went on to win a gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. He also played in the old American Basketball Association. He’s remembered as not only a terrific player in Montgomery, but as a great person.

-- I really didn’t have a favorite in this year’s Super Bowl. But I turned it off at halftime because Denver didn’t perform like it was one of the NFL’s top two teams. Seattle certainly did, though, winning 43-8 with quality plays, or so I’m told by a friend who stayed up to see the finish.

--That reminded me of another NFL championship one-sided contest way back in 1940. The Chicago Bears, with two former Mountaineers as starters, routed the Washington Redskins 73-0. That of course, was before it was called the Super Bowl.

-- WVU all-time great tackle Joe Stydahar and halfback Harry Clarke were major contributors for the Bears. In fact, Clarke reportedly was the only player to score two touchdowns in that game.