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A House in Arizona, new classes and a Top 10 nod

Ye olde notebook:   

  • Forget the slogan of "go west young man." It seems these days many are narrowing their western target to Arizona.
  • You may know former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez is headed to the Grand Canyon State to take over the University of Arizona football team. He's hired ex-Mountaineer assistants Calvin Magee, Tony Gibson and Tony Dews. On Wednesday word hit that another ex-WVU assistant, Todd Graham, was dissing Pitt by leaving the Panthers to take over at Arizona State.

    But there's another from the Mountain State heading there. Former Nitro High record-setting quarterback, WVU quarterback and major and minor league baseball player J.R. House has landed a baseball coaching gig with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    "I'm leaving at the end of February to go to spring training," House said from his home in New Smyrna, Fla.

    House, now 31, gave professional baseball one last swing, playing last season with independent league teams Newark and Long Island. His stint with the Long Island Ducks was most impressive. He batted .305 with 19 homers and 85 RBI. He was a first-team Atlantic League all-star. Yet the phone call from the major leagues didn't arrive.

    "I had a pretty good year and still didn't get a sniff," House said.

    So he put together a resume, reached out to his contacts and landed a job as a minor league hitting instructor with the Diamondbacks. He'll start working in advanced rookie ball in Scottsdale, Ariz., before moving to coach the Missoula (Mont.) Osprey, where ex-Nitro standout J.R. Bradley started his pro career.

    The kicker? Yes, House reached out to former teammate Andy Green, now the Osprey manager. Yes, he reached out to others. But his West Virginia connections were most vital.

    "[Diamondbacks managing general partner] Ken Kendrick being from West Virginia was big in this," House said. "And Rich Rodriguez reached out to Ken. Rich 100 percent helped. Those two are pretty tight."

    House was asked about the mass exodus to Arizona.

    "A bunch of West Virginia boys in Arizona," he chuckled. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the mountain boys do in the desert."

  • Among the emails received here was an interesting one from Boothe Davis of Logan. He questioned the new state high school classifications and made a very good point.
  • If one looks for a natural cutoff between the Class AAA and AA classes, there are two. Davis pointed to the one between Ripley, which has 977 students, and Lincoln County, which has 892. That's a difference of 85 students. The dividing line, however, was drawn between Point Pleasant, with 782, and Berkeley Springs, with 777.

    Davis calls Berkeley Springs a "jackpot winner." I believe a logical cutoff would have been after South Charleston's 1,007 students. Those soon to be in Class AAA listed after S.C. in enrollment are Ripley, Lincoln County, Oak Hill, Elkins, Shady Spring, Logan, Winfield, Nitro, Lewis County and Point Pleasant. Can't see those schools knocking heads with Cabell Midland (1,857 students), Parkersburg (1,821), Martinsburg (1,746) and others such as Wheeling Park and Morgantown in many football championships.

    Sure, that would whittle the Class AAA field back to 27 schools, but so be it. Remember the cry for a Class AAAA? The setup now is to have 37 in Class AAA, 40 in Class AA and 48 in Class A.

    "Our board looks at a lot of factors," SSAC executive director Gary Ray explained on Wednesday. "We not only look for natural splits, but the number of schools in each classification."

    Ray said when the splits are determined, school names aren't used. I suggest perhaps they should be used - in the name of common sense.

  • While on the topic of high school sports, Bernie Dolan, co-director of the Super Six, said those in Wheeling saw an increase in sales this season.
  • Dolan said the Class AA final between Point Pleasant and Wayne lured 3,422 ticket buyers. The Class AAA final between Martinsburg and George Washington scored 2,781 tickets sold. The Class A game between Wheeling Central and Williamstown netted 2,427 sold tickets.

    "The gate was up about $2,000 over last year," Dolan said. "About 200 people."

  • And finally ...
  • Got a kick out of Robert Griffin's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

    In case you're unaware, the show always has a comedic Top 10 list. And the Baylor QB appeared to read the Top 10 "thoughts running through Robert Griffin III's mind when he won the Heisman."

    My favorites?

    "How long before Kim Kardashian calls?"

    Then, in the spirit of the season:

    "And everyone laughed when I asked Santa for a Heisman."

    Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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