CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In Tuesday's Gazette, our Dave Hickman wrote about WVU's basketball schedule.
He pointed out the Mountaineers' RPI strength of schedule currently ranks No. 102, but, according to Statsheet.com, projects to finish the season at No. 4.
The reason is tied to the Big 12's strong, early start. It's currently ranked No. 1 among all conferences, which affords WVU many nice opportunities to notch quality wins.
That doesn't, however, exactly bode well for the 7-4 Mountaineers. Their .636 winning percentage against non-conference competition is last within the Big 12.
So, with the league schedule looming, it seemed the right time to call Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins and pose this question to him: Are all hopes dead of forward Jonathan Holton joining the team this season?
"Not officially," Huggins said. "It's about the same as it's been. I can't get into it because of federal [privacy] laws."
It's curious that Holton's case hasn't been closed by now, 11 games into the season. But it's also understandable the school keeps it open in an attempt to declare him eligible. The former Rhode Island and Palm Beach (Fla.) State Community College standout was expected to lead WVU both in scoring and rebounding. They could especially use him now, even if it torches a redshirt season.
Then there's the case of Elijah Macon, who apparently is sitting out as a partial qualifier. Huggins has repeatedly mentioned a wrist injury that's keeping Macon, a power forward, shelved.
"The doctors say there is some [mending] growth there," Huggins said. "They say the best thing for him is to have no contact. He saw a specialist who didn't think another surgery would be a good idea. They did a bone graft and the bones need to grow back together."
He confirmed that Clarksburg native Jimbo Fisher, who has Florida State in the BCS title game, was a serious contender to replace former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez.
You might recall that Fisher was the FSU coach in waiting to replace Bobby Bowden at that time. Fisher was guaranteed $2.5 million should he not replace Bowden, but was prohibited from negotiating with other schools. Apparently, Fisher was given the blessing to talk to WVU from then-FSU president T.K. Wetherell, because negotiate the two sides did.
"During that period, there was an exchange between WVU and [Fisher's] agent [Jimmy Sexton]," Pastilong said. "There were several. More than several. But at the end of it, I guess the prospects at Florida State won out."
It was reported that, during that weekend, Wetherell and Fisher spoke three times on the Sunday. (That, kids, is how you play the negotiating game.)
"We never got to the point of a flat-out offer," Pastilong said. "We were seriously interested. But as we moved along it became clearer and clearer he'd stay at Florida State."