The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 9, 2011

Big East gets some revenge

I guess the best way to describe the nonsensical All-Big East football team that was released Thursday is three simple words.

Touché, Big East.

Last week I wrote how Cincinnati’s win over Connecticut, which essentially made West Virginia the Big East’s BCS representative, had to be taken as a shot at the Big East offices. With the Mountaineers and Big East embroiled in a legal battle with WVU wanting out to go to the Big 12 and the Big East insisting that the school honor the 27-month exit timetable, you know the last thing the Big East wanted — privately, of course — was WVU representing it on a huge national stage.

On Thursday, it would appear as if the Big East, via the coaches, got a measure of revenge.

First off, West Virginia did have seven combined players named to the first team offensive and defensive units, although two were Tavon Austin, named as a receiver and return specialist.

And Austin was the special teams player of the year.

Derek Wolfe of Cincinnati and Khaseem Greene of Rutgers were co-defensive players of the year.

No problem there. Who really thought a Mountaineer would win defensive player of the year honors? It’s only happened once, and that was rush linebacker Canute Curtis in 1996.

But I have a real problem with the offensive player of the year.

Isaiah Pead of Cincinnati? Really. Really?

So 92.5 yards rushing a game and 11 touchdowns gets you the Big East offensive player of the year. No wonder everyone wants out.

I think Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith got hosed, and I don’t care if it was the coaches voting. Apparently, they didn’t do any homework. Reason No. 115 why coaches shouldn’t vote. On anything.

Pead wasn’t even the leading rusher in the conference. That was Lyle McCombs of Connecticut, 1,151 yards to 1,110.

But Geno Smith was easily the conference’s leading passer, averaging 331.5 passing yards per game.

That was 94.8 yards per game more than second-place passer B.J. Daniels of South Florida had. Now Geno did throw about 10 times more on average per game, but he also had a better completion percentage among the top echelon quarterbacks in the league.

He set records for completions, attempts and yards, breaking the old marks of a guy named Marc Bulger, who went on to have a pretty good NFL career.

Of course, it’s a product of the offense he is running.

Just like Pead’s numbers are a product of his system. They run the ball.

Product of the system is one of the most ridiculous clichés in sports.

His 25 touchdown passes? Tops in the conference. His seven INTs? Tied for the fewest among starters.

And he broke the school record for passing yards in a game, not once, not twice, but three times, including his tour de force against LSU, when he put up 463.

Sure, the Mountaineers were in comeback mode. But so were a lot of teams against LSU, which, incidentally, is playing in the national championship game. And nobody else threw for 463.

Geno was first-team quarterback, and was joined on the offensive side by Austin at a receiver spot and return specialist spot and tackle Donnie Barclay.

Defensively, defensive end Bruce Irvin, linebacker Najee Goode and cornerback Keith Tandy were tabbed.

I know. What about Stedman Bailey, who led the conference in receiving yards?

Second team.

As were Joe Madsen and Eain Smith.

Julian Miller?

Must have been special honorable mention, which the Big East doesn’t have.

They can yuck it up all they want — privately of course. Because shortly, to paraphrase former president Richard M. Nixon, “they won’t have West Virginia to push around anymore.”

And the sooner, the better.

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