By Cam Huffman
West Virginia University play-by-play broadcaster Tony Caridi wasn’t born in West Virginia. But the New York native and Syracuse graduate has become a “West Virginian by choice.”
Caridi, who recently signed on with IMG College to continue to be the radio voice of the Mountaineers, will begin his 30th season at WVU this fall, and he said he’s learned something about people in the Mountain State.
“We love when people tell us we can’t do something,” he said earlier this month while speaking at a United Way fundraiser in Summersville.
That frame of mind, Caridi said, applies to everyday West Virginians but he also believes it carries over to the football field.
“Jeff Hostetler went to Penn State and was told he couldn’t be a quarterback. He came to West Virginia and ended up winning a Super Bowl (as the Giants quarterback),” Caridi remembered. “Pat White was told by LSU that he should be a defensive back. He came to WVU and won two BCS bowl games. Steve Slaton had a scholarship to play for Maryland, and they gave it to somebody else. He came to WVU and became a Heisman Trophy finalist.”
It’s stories like those, Caridi said, that should give Mountaineer fans hope for the 2013 season.
“It’s more enjoyable when we’re told we’re not going to be any good and we surprise people,” he said.
The Mountaineers certainly don’t have many expectations from those outside the program. WVU was picked ninth in the 10-team Big 12 by the league’s coaches and didn’t sniff a single vote in the two major national polls.
The last time the Mountaineers were picked anywhere close to the bottom was in 2002, Rich Rodriguez’s second year at WVU, when they were picked to finish sixth in the eight-team Big East.
That team, though, went on to a 9-3 season and rose to No. 15 in the national polls.
Caridi said he can envision a similar path for this year’s squad, and he went as far to compare it to the 2005 team that began the season with more questions than answers but ended it with a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia.
That team, he remembered, was looking for a quarterback. Pat White and Adam Bednarik entered the season as co-starters before White eventually emerged and became one of the best players in school history. This season, head coach Dana Holgorsen is deciding among junior Paul Millard, redshirt-freshman Ford Childress and junior Florida State transfer Rick Trickett.
The 2005 team began the season with a conference road game at Syracuse. This year’s group plays an early conference game on the road at Oklahoma in the season’s second week.
“Something tells me something like that will happen this year,” said Caridi. “That’s the mentality that makes West Virginia football, and I think Dana Holgorsen is starting to get that.”
This year’s Dana Holgorsen Show and Bob Huggins Show will have a new home, as IMG and WVU announced Friday that the call-in radio shows will be held live from Kegler’s in Morgantown.
The Holgorsen show, which begins this Thursday, and will air on The Ticket 102.3 in Beckley and other radio stations around the state, will be hosted by Caridi and air from 7-9.
According to the Associated Press, WVU basketball recruit Elijah Macon has been cleared to enroll in the university. The 6-foot-9 forward expects to begin classes on Monday.
Macon, though, is still working on his eligibility to join the basketball team.
West Virginia MetroNews reported Friday that Holgorsen was cited for hazardous driving after an accident Friday morning on Beechurst Avenue in Morgantown.
Morgantown police said Holgorsen’s Jeep Cherokee hit the back of a Jeep Liberty, pushing it into the rear of a Honda Civic. No one was injured in the incident.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.