The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 13, 2012

Was WVU too hasty in joining Big 12?

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s football fortunes obviously are becoming worse by the day — not just weekly.

What second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen now is calling errors and “junior high mistakes” cost the Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4) last Saturday’s 55-34 beating at Oklahoma State.

So their losing streak has reached four games, the most since 2001, and after a sparkling 5-0 season’s start and 2-0 beginning as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

It has come down to the players hoping and praying for bowl eligibility. And they surely need a sixth victory for that. That’s a most unusual situation for a football program which has been thriving for many years.

Considering that millions of dollars in coaching salaries and the extra millions spent on travel to Big 12 road games, the thought herein is that it’s not worth all the big bucks.

I know it’s trite to say that the tail is wagging the dog, but I know numerous WVU alumni firmly believe that it is.

My thinking has been that West Virginia should have done a better job of recruiting before joining the Big 12 Conference. That is, if the powers-that-be really made the right decision.

I have always been a guy who liked WVU being “a big fish in a small pond” such as the Big East Conference. I felt it certainly was more fitting to WVU’s Eastern ties.

But selected others obviously did not. So the university dished out $20 million to get out of the league. To be honest, I was shocked!

But big, big money talks. And the Big 12 reportedly needed a 10th member by June 30 for TV dealings in long-term contracts.

There are some who think the Mountaineers could have dominated the Big East and be 9-0 today — not 5-4. And that senior quarterback Geno Smith would still be a strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

Versatile Tavon Austin, also a senior, and Stedman Bailey, a junior wide receiver, also would have benefited as a year ago.

However, Holgorsen has said he wasn’t interested in talking about individuals — only about the team in general.

Holgorsen has admitted at times after a loss that the WVU coaches were outcoached. Perhaps that’s an area that should be restructured at season’s end.

Who knows how any coach has performed?

“You have some ideas? I’m all ears,” Holgorsen told reporters after the OSU defeat. (One writer suggested he was joking.)

“You can’t make very simple, junior high mistakes and beat a good team,” the head coach said.

There are growing problems to fix with just three games left.

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