Examining polls, some hoops and Mazzulla
THE VIEWS FROM HERE: n When the final college football polls surfaced early Tuesday morning, there was some consternation among WVU fans that their Mountaineers finished but No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the coaches' poll.
It's understandable, considering the way West Virginia vaporized Atlantic Coast Conference champ Clemson by 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. As the Mountain State's voter, I placed WVU at No. 14. Hard to ignore such a statement by the Mountaineers.
If, however, you consider WVU's season and those ranked ahead of the Mountaineers, you'll see there's not that much issue to take - with a couple exceptions.
Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State clearly constituted the top tier this past season, and there's little to suggest WVU should have been ranked above Oregon, Arkansas, USC, Stanford, Boise State, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Baylor.
Let's narrow the examination, though, to the next grouping. I placed WVU over TCU - and justifiably so. The Mountaineers lost to No. 2 LSU, hurt themselves with a bad road loss to Syracuse before the somewhat surprising home loss to Louisville. WVU, according to the final Sagarin computer ranking, had the nation's 57th-toughest schedule. Keep in mind, however, the incredibly impressive Orange Bowl win.
TCU had the 86th-best schedule, lost to Baylor and SMU - and defeated Louisiana Tech in its bowl by a mere 31-24. Yet the Horned Frogs were ranked No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 13 by the coaches.
Meanwhile, I, and any clear-thinking voter, also had WVU ahead of Virginia Tech. Somehow the Hokies, who lost twice to Clemson, were placed a spot ahead of WVU in the coaches' poll. Tech also lost its bowl and had the nation's No. 59-rated schedule.
Otherwise, though, one can't argue too loudly against those voted above WVU. Kansas State, like WVU, lost three games this season, including its bowl. But the Wildcat losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and, in that bowl, Arkansas. K-State's schedule was ranked No. 8 nationally.
Oklahoma, like WVU, had a bad loss, its to Texas Tech. But the Sooners' other losses were to Baylor and OSU. In the Sagarin ratings, OU finished No. 4, largely based on its No. 6 strength of schedule.
Also, Conference USA's Houston was ranked ahead of the Mountaineers in the coaches' poll. One can certainly yell about that, but, again, not too loudly. The Cougars had the 97th best schedule, but only lost to No. 20 Southern Miss, won 13 games and soundly defeated Penn State in its bowl by 30-14.
Oh, and if you're really curious, the highest WVU was ranked by voters in the AP poll was No. 11, while the lowest was No. 21.
A couple other notes? Well, the Southeastern Conference held its annual showcase in the BCS title game, but, according to Sagarin, the nation's top conference was the Big 12, set to be WVU's new home. The nation's top schedules belonged to league members Kansas and Iowa State.
WVU was ranked No. 22 by the computer and Marshall No. 79 with the 56th-toughest schedule.
Locally, both the University of Charleston and West Virginia State are starting to fare better. UC is now third in the West Virginia Conference, behind West Liberty and Alderson-Broaddus, at 6-2 in league play and 11-3 overall. State is in eighth place within the 15-team conference at 4-4 and is 6-6 overall.
One program to keep an eye on, though, is WVU Tech. Before Tuesday night's game against Southern Virginia, the Golden Bears made a statement with back-to-back victories over two ranked NAIA teams: No. 14 Lindsey Wilson and former No. 12 University of the Cumberlands. Tech also beat then-No. 17 Catharine College earlier in the season.
Also, don't forget Mountain State University of Beckley, which defeated Tech at the end of last month. Bob Bolen's team is 11-5 and ranked No. 11 nationally. And, before you ask, yes, ex-WVU recruit David Nyarsuk is still with the Cougars. He's fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.8 points.
The University of Charleston defeated Glenville handily at Eddie King gym on Monday, but there's reason for optimism for the losing Pioneers: new assistant coach and former WVU standout Joe Mazzulla.
If GSC head coach Stephen Dye is seeking help landing in-state talent, it won't hurt to have Mountaineer fan favorite Mazzulla as a recruiter.
"He's doing great," Dye said of Mazzulla. "He's a hard worker and really passionate about basketball.
"He definitely has a well-known name. Playing in the Final Four, he has name recognition. We've already gained a few possible recruits we otherwise wouldn't have."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.