What a weekend! You didn't have to look very hard to find some head scratching events in the sports world last weekend. I'll point first to the Bill Belichick call Sunday night with his Patriots up by six points with just over two minutes to go in Indianapolis. His team needed two yards for a first down. The problem was he was on his own 28 yard line and it was fourth down.
It's a no brainer, you punt and put the game into the hands of your defense. Well, most coaches would, but Belichick isn't most coaches and he obviously did not want to give Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning the football back via the punt. So, he rolled the dice and crapped out. The two yard pass attempt from Tom Brady was complete very close to the necessary yard line, but the officials ruled the New England receiver short of a first down. With no reviews left, all New England could do was try to stop the Colts from scoring a touchdown.
They failed to hold the Colts and lost 35-34 in a game which looked like a relatively easy Patriot victory for about 50 minutes. Belichick has three Super Bowl rings, but rest assured the fans in the Boston area are seething mad today, and for the foreseeable future. We all know fans are fickle, and had the Patriots had converted, Belichick would have been lauded, right?
Tell you what, I'm not sure. That call was so far out there I'm not sure too many would have endorsed the call even if it worked. The rationale is that if they make it, they win, but at what risk. At least make them drive most of the field for a touchdown instead of 30 yards.
While we're talking about fickle fans, we must talk about West Virginia University football fans. Maybe I don't want to use the word fickle, but it is a word close to being accurate. WVU fans are starting to get riled up about the football team and its head coach Bill Stewart. Fan unrest goes with the territory, even for a coach who has won 17 of his first 24 games as the head man on the WVU sidelines.
Among the fans it is a house divided. There are those who simply want WVU to fire Stewart and move on. I doubt that this group has looked at the whole picture on that point. There are many more who rightfully understand that this is a five year deal and he deserves more time to put his team together.
In between are the more quiet masses who hover on one side or the other, often changing viewpoints. These fans see some decisions on the sideline which don't sit well with them and hope for improvement. They saw it last year and are seeing it again this year. Many of them thought the Stewart hire in the wee hours following the 2008 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma was hasty. These fans were hoping that Stewart would look as good in the morning as he did that night. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the jury is still out.
Friday night West Virginia lost to Cincinnati 24-21 ending its chance for a BCS berth, while the effort was arguably the best of the season, questions remain on strategy. One week it is punting from the opponents 32. Last week, on second and 10 from their own 33 yard line, West Virginia let the first half clock expire, choosing not to try to get in field goal range. They passed up a 40 yard field goal in the fourth quarter trailing 21-14 with 5:30 remaining. With Noel Devine hurting and out of the game, WVU found a hot back in Ryan Clarke. Yet when crucial yards were needed WVU went with Jock Sanders who really hasn't distinguished himself as a running threat.
There are just a lot of little things not happening right now. Any of the above things can be debated on and on, some more than others. Coaches have to make calls and get criticized when they don't work. The good ones get'em right most of the time.
One more reason for concern on the basketball side of things. Coach Bob Huggins' star sophomore forward Devin Ebanks was not dressed and not on the bench in West Virginia's 83-60 win over Loyola Sunday. Personal reasons was the only explanation given. Lots of rumors going around saying he will be back soon and, of course, a few saying he won't return. Stay tuned.