By Dave Hickman
NEW YORK - If the miserable weather and changes to West Virginia's practice schedule weren't enough to put a damper on the Mountaineers' Pinstripe Bowl preparations, well, Joe Madsen provided another troublesome issue.
For the second time in the last three years, Madsen is academically ineligible for a bowl game. He was also ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando in 2010.
"I'm disappointed he didn't take care of business,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday, WVU's first full day in New York. "The expectations for our guys are to go to class and get good grades and leave West Virginia with a good, quality education and a degree. Joey fell short of that and we're disappointed.''
Although it was known to Holgorsen last week and suspected by others, the team did not make it official until Holgorsen acknowledged it Wednesday. West Virginia plays Syracuse Saturday afternoon in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Oddly enough, the two bowl games - Madsen played in two others -are the only games in his career that Madsen has not started. He has been in the lineup for 50 of West Virginia's 51 games since 2009.
The loss of Madsen could be crucial because of the type of defense West Virginia will face from Syracuse on Saturday. When last the teams met, a 49-23 Syracuse win last season, the Orange threw almost every conceivable blitz at the Mountaineers, seldom the same one twice.
As the center, Madsen has always been the focal point in making the offensive line calls that guard against those blitzes. Holgorsen suggested Wednesday that with a less experienced center in the game that quarterback Geno Smith would probably have more responsibility in helping the line adjust to Syracuse's defensive looks.