The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 14, 2011

Bailey didn’t play like a second-teamer

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia fared pretty well in Big East balloting for post-season all-conference football honors.

The No. 23 ranked Mountaineers (9-3) landed seven on the first team and three on the second team. In addition, junior Tavon Austin was named Big East Special Teams Player of the Year.

But I did not think the league’s head coaches went far enough in casting votes.

The thought herein is wide receivers Stedman Bailey was deserving of a spot on the first team — not the second team — and that record-breaking junior quarterback Geno Smith should have been tagged Big East Offensive Player of the Year.

I think it’s a shame that some coaches obviously didn’t care — or overlooked — both WVU standouts.

Bailey, a 5-foot-10, 192-pound sophomore, set a school record for pass receiving yards with 1,197 on 67 catches and scored 11 touchdowns. His longest reception was 84 yards.

While teammate Tavon Austin owned a record 89 receptions, he had 134 fewer yards than Bailey and he scored only four touchdowns.

But Austin distinguished himself as a kick- and punt-returner as well as an occasional rusher.

Geno Smith led the Big East in passing and total offense as the Mountaineers won their last three games to earn the league’s BCS bowl bid. Clemson (10-3) is currently a 3 1/2-point favorite over WVU in the Orange Bowl Jan. 4 at Miami.

Smith, who also had Bailey as a teammate at Miami’s Miramar High, completed 314 of 483 passes (65.0 percent) for 3,978 yards and 25 TDs in 12 games.

All these figures are new WVU records.

Both he and Bailey are not only great players but classy young men. Neither is complaining about the Big East snubs.

“It is what it is,” Bailey said of his second-team selection. “I am pleased with what I’ve done this season.

“Now I’ve got to get better for the bowl game. I’m not sure how the coaches voted for the first and second teams and stuff like that.

“But you’ve gotta keep going. As I say, it is what it is.

“But I am pleased to be part of this team and what we’ve accomplished. We all want to get better, though.”

Like other Floridians on the squad, Bailey is excited to be going home for Christmas and then to be playing college football in front of family and friends.

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