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Early-season showdown; Stoops' new nickname

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The views from here:

  • If you're a Mountaineer fan wondering why WVU is playing Oklahoma at the beginning of September, it's understandable. Last season, West Virginia didn't play a conference game until a Sept. 29 contest against Baylor. When the Mountaineers were in the Big East, league play usually didn't begin until October.
  • So, did the Big 12 schedule this game in a friendly attempt to break up WVU's travel?

    Don't be silly.

    "It wasn't so much the travel," said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck. "It was more the [Fox] network's desire to have good matchups at the beginning of the year.

    "Usually there are great conference matchups in October. But sometimes there's a dearth in September."

    It's all about television. It's always about money. Never forget that.

    "That's the reason you saw [the Atlantic Coast Conference's] Florida State-Pitt game in primetime," Luck said. "Conference matchups, by and large, are more attractive. You saw Vanderbilt and Ole Miss."

    If you're wondering what Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen thought of the early matchup, so did Luck when the date was placed.

    "The [Big 12] conference called us," Luck said. "I sat down and talked to Dana. He thought it made sense. Heck, it might help us with a new [Oklahoma] quarterback. These [early-season conference matchups] are something I think you'll continue to see."

  • You could have an interesting debate on whether WVU is helped by the early OU date.
  • Had Holgorsen felt comfortable with and started ex-Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett, the thought from here is, yes, it would have helped the Mountaineers. Trickett has been in the fire against the Sooners, Clemson and others for extended periods.

    New Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight, a freshman, fared well in the Sooners' season opener - with his feet. Knight had 103 yards to lead his team in rushing against Louisiana-Monroe.

    Through the air, though, Knight hit just 11-of-28 attempts for 86 yards. (Three of those connections did go for scores.) So with an experienced QB, maybe WVU would have gained an advantage.

    With Paul Millard at WVU's controls, though, I sense a push.

  • Hunch: Holgorsen will have no choice but to cut Millard loose passing if the Mountaineers are to have a shot of winning at Oklahoma.
  • Like 40 passes loose.

  • Luck mentioned Florida State's impressive win at Pittsburgh Monday night. Keep in mind the Seminoles could have been playing in Morgantown this season, but the athletic director canceled the one-for-one contract.
  • "I'm impressed with their quarterback [Jameis Winston]," Luck said. "It's a bit of a shame we couldn't play the game with [FSU coach] Jimbo [Fisher] from Clarksburg and all.

    "But with Florida State on there, it's a pretty tough [WVU] schedule."

    You might remember the Mountaineers played Marshall, James Madison in Landover and Maryland last season, when WVU was to hit Tallahassee. This year's nonconference schedule: W&M, Georgia State and Maryland.

    "Last year it would have been politically tough to cancel the Marshall game," Luck said. "Had we canceled the JMU game the penalty would have been substantial. And I think the Maryland series is important to the fans in this region. We had four nonconference games scheduled and had to drop one [after joining the Big 12]."

    After watching Florida State and WVU open their seasons, it seems Luck made the correct call. At least for his team's well-being.

  • The Mountaineer athletic director, by the way, said a "design/build process" has been going on in regard to building the new WVU baseball field. He said the number of candidates hoping to handle the construction have been whittled from seven to four firms. He hopes to have a choice by the end of this month.
  • "We want to start moving dirt in December," he said.

  • And finally ...
  • Every newspaper has slips, but I found one on this week's Norman Transcript website humorous and, perhaps, spot on.

    Early in OU coach Bob Stoops' career, he was a very successful defensive coordinator at places like Kansas State and Florida. As successful offenses have been Holgorsen's bread and butter, successful defenses have been to Stoops. And, in this season's opener, the Sooners turned around last year's poor defensive performance by blanking Louisiana-Monroe.

    Perhaps it's appropriate then the newspaper called him "Bob Stops."

    Hey, it's better than "Big Game Bob."

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


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