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Big 12 meetings, Grantham, WVU and Akers update

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ye olde notebook:

  • The Big 12 conference coaches and athletic directors recently concluded meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix. (What, your company doesn't send you to a resort and spa for meetings?)
  • According to those who attended from WVU, the meetings were productive, if not necessarily newsworthy. There are no plans for the Big 12 to expand. ("We're happy with the [league] size and composition," said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck.)

    The new SEC network, scheduled to debut in 2014, was discussed. ("We're not going to [have a Big 12 network]," Luck said. "We're happy the way it is.")

    Also, WVU's representatives "re-emphasized" their scheduling requests. Those were 1) to try and avoid back-to-back away football games; 2) try to get at least one, and maybe two, road conference basketball games completed before second semester classes begin; 3) aim for at least one possible "combo" trip in which WVU's hoops teams play on Saturday and Monday; and 4) when possible, play earlier away television games. ("All agreed those were reasonable requests," Luck said.)

    Another topic of conversation was the upcoming College Football Playoff, which begins following the 2014 regular season. A specific topic was the composition of the selection committee.

    "Clearly we want people who really know college football," Luck said. "We want knowledgeable people who can watch games not only as a fan. There are a lot of people out there who have played and coached the game. Do we need people on the committee who are retired versus those who also work full-time?"

    Luck certainly seems to lean that way.

    "I've heard of guys on the basketball selection committee who work 10 to 12 hours and then are up until 4 a.m. watching basketball game film," he said.

    My suggestion has been to have a pool of, say, 20 former athletes and coaches. Ex-state coaches Don Nehlen and Bob Pruett jump to mind as candidates. But if, say, WVU is among those to be considered, Nehlen, as a former Mountaineer coach, would be eliminated from the pool.

    "You'd have to have a requirement that those involved recuse themselves," Luck said. "But how far does that go? A lot of coaches have been a lot of places. Would Coach Nehlen have to recuse himself if Michigan is being considered? What if Jeff Hostetler hadn't moved from Penn State and still married [Nehlen's] daughter? What if [grandson] Ryan [Nehlen] had played at Ohio State instead of [WVU]?"

    It's a tough nut to crack. In the end, though, a committee of respected former athletes and coaches simply have to be trusted.

    "The five [power] conference commissioners will decide on the [selection committee] composition," Luck said. "I think there's a pretty good trust level for retired guys. They have the time and love watching film and the game. It just takes strong leadership."

  • The mystery of Donte Grantham, the state boys basketball player of the year, continues.
  • Grantham will be graduated from Martinsburg High soon and has offers from both WVU and Marshall. It seemed a goal was to be offered by WVU, which happened late, yet happened.

    Now, the 6-foot-7 standout is extending the process. "He hasn't made up his mind," said MHS coach Dave Rogers - a week ago.

    Apparently, Grantham is playing AAU ball and considering attending a prep school to raise his profile. Theoretically, WVU and Marshall can wait until school starts for a signature.

    It will be interesting to see if the schools do indeed wait.

  • Part of what sold Mountaineer baseball coach Randy Mazey on WVU was Luck's plan for a new stadium, which was secured this past week. Mazey, whose specialty is pitching (see sophomore Harrison Musgrave), probably wouldn't have taken the job without it.
  • Seems to be paying off. The team has been a surprise within the Big 12. About 2,500 fans showed at Hawley Field in Morgantown for the Pitt game. And there's been enthusiasm in Charleston over the Oklahoma-WVU matchup at Appalachian Power Park.

    "I'm glad people are excited," Luck said. "It proves people here like baseball. They just needed a reason to get excited."

  • Ex-WVU football favorite John Pennington, along with his wife Andrea and pal Hollis Lewis, have started a different kind of business in Charleston. That business: The Athletic and Social League.
  • "It provides adult professionals in Charleston with competitive activities and social events where they can get out, exercise, have fun and network with other professionals," Pennington said. "We want Charleston to become healthier."

    Neat idea. Activities include flag football to beach volleyball. Those interested can call Pennington at 304-553-6106 or Lewis at 304-610-1164.

  • And finally . . .
  • I received a nice text and picture of Willie Akers and his family the other day. You might recall that the state basketball legend took a serious spill at the Civic Center and is now battling C-6 quadriplegia.

    The text, from Akers' wife Linda, said Willie has graduated from inpatient therapy at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The two of them are now living together in a hospital apartment. He began more intense therapy in the day program and will return to Logan in June.

    The picture showed Willie surrounded by family.

    And he was smiling from ear to ear.

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

     

     

     

      

     

     

     


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