Full disclosure: It's no secret that I am an alumnus and fan of the University of South Florida. As such, I am adamantly against the WVU Mountaineers at LEAST once every football season.
That said, after last night's display in the Fiesta Bowl, I am proud to call you my conference mates and our conference champions.
It wasn't that you won the game. Heaven know that with the exception of the game vs. Pitt a few weeks ago and, of course, your game against us, you've walked into this season, and for that matter, all but 3 of your last 18 (that other loss? It was to us too. Just thought I'd remind you.) You can win games. It wasn't even that you won this game that you weren't supposed to win. There have been plenty of those as well--Lord knows we were on the wrong end of one this bowl season.
But what you did was something more. After first a heartbreaking loss that snatched national championship hopes from your hands and then the loss of your coach for the last seven years, you went out there and did what the greats do. You played as a TEAM. You supported one another, you believed in yourselves, and you had fun.
It was no secret that no one thought you could do it. It was mentioned that in the ESPN poll, all of the states had OU selected as the winner of that game except your very own West-By-God-Virginia . I was one of the naysayers (although oddly enough, I selected you in my Bowl Pick'ems, though I was sure I had picked Oklahoma) and thought that OU could beat you outright, let alone with your current challenges. Not only will I admit I was wrong, I'm glad that I was.
Feel-good stories are typically for movies, but danged if I didn't find myself rooting for your (at the time) interim head coach, who was just pleased as punch to be there doing everything right, and for the team who rallied around him and carried him in victory. I rooted for Steve Slaton and Pat White (in spite of myself), Noel Devine, D ingle&Berry, and a team full of other folks to whom I hadn't paid too much attention. And I almost got choked up myself as your big hoss Owen Schmitt gave his swan song interview after the game. Your performance the entire game was something to behold. Plus, you made the conference look good, and, well, we sure didn't in our game.
So you did the right thing, at least at face value right now, dancing with the one you came with and hiring Stew to the head coaching position. Hopefully that karma, combined with your skill, will carry you far next season. Best of luck.
Except, of course, against us.
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