by Jim Buzzerd
When West Virginia University head football coach Neal Brown was hired 23 months ago his mantra for the program was ‘Trust the Climb.’ It’s kind of catchy and simple to understand. The climb seems to be what the program has been during Brown’s tenure, though some will argue that this 2020 edition of Mountaineer football should have a couple more wins this season. The climb suffered a setback last Saturday in a 42-6 pasting at Iowa State. As one who has been trusting the climb, I fully expected the Mountaineers to go to Ames and play a competitive game, maybe even win.
Because of the Oklahoma game being postponed until this weekend WVU had an unscheduled and unwanted three-week layoff heading into the ISU game. Maybe that layoff could have helped, but it clearly had the Mountaineers showing rust. Iowa State was playing to clinch the Big 12 regular season championship, and they may have had their best performance of the season. The Cyclones are having a special season, but they won a lot of close games in the process. Even Kansas put up a better fight, losing 52-22 to ISU.
I saw it pointed out that since halftime of the 2017 game with Iowa State the Cyclones have outscored the WVU offense 124-26. West Virginia did score one field goal return and is not included in the 26 points. That is total domination that I did not see continuing last week.
We’ll see if the Mountaineers can regroup for the regular season finale this Saturday when Oklahoma comes to Morgantown. The game is at noon on ABC. I still trust the climb, but another performance like last weekend’s will give me some pause.
Meanwhile the WVU basketball team sits at 4-1 after an 87-82 loss to top ranked Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic and an 80-71 win at Georgetown in the Big East/Big 12 Battle on Sunday. There are mixed early results for the Mountaineers. Miles McBride has been as good as advertised at point guard and some part-time stints at the off guard.
McBride has had to carry most of the load as Derek Culver, and most notably Oscar Tshiebwe, have spent major minutes on the bench with early foul trouble. Rest assured, future opponents will focus on getting those two off the floor as early as possible. You’ll have to dust off your ESPN+ account if you want to watch the Mountaineers play Robert Morris in the Coliseum at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday. Richmond comes to Morgantown Sunday for a game on ESPN at 1 p.m.