West Virginia proved why the Big East is the worst BCS conference last night, choking against a hapless Pittsburgh team. The score doesn't do justice to the level of embarrassment the Mountaineers should feel this morning. Even with the referees in their pockets, West Virginia managed to bite the bullet and lose an undeserved chance at the National Championship.
The behavior of the Big East officials was simply reprehensible. It was perfectly clear that they were attempting to hand the game to the Mountaineers to ensure a title-bound Big East team. They were willing to sell one of their own teams down the river in order to do so, leaving Dave Wannestadt and the Panthers kicking and screaming (justifiably) the whole way. While there were several questionable calls in the game, two were particularly biased. The referees managed to call TWO (2) holding penalties on the same player on PERFECT blocks. One cheated the Panthers out of a touchdown, and the other out of a first down and potential scoring situation. Tack 14 points on for Pittsburgh ... the Panthers embarrassed the Mountaineers -- no matter what the score said.
Rich Rodriguez addressed the situation as a "nightmare." It certainly is a nightmare when you can't win with the authority of the game on your side. It certainly is a nightmare when every available media outlet is on your side, pushing you into the title over much more qualified programs. It certainly is a nightmare when you can't call a respectable game without resorting to the "Vince Young [read: Pat White] is going to do whatever the hell he wants to do" offense. I will give Rich Rodriguez some credit for his composure after this game. Instead of his usual temper tantrum, dropping to the floor and crying "GIVE US A CHANCE, WE DESERVE A CHANCE!!!", he simply said he was disappointed. His disappointment salvages the integrity of college football though. The referees did not cheat the game of its rightful championship match up. The lack-luster scheduling of the Mountaineers was not rewarded in the end. Rich, my hat is off to you ... good luck against the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. Just try not to spoil the tradition of that game, like you almost did to the National Title.
And for all those that are interested, Virginia Tech won the Big East/ACC title, beating Boston College. I'm sure the traditional ACC powers were excited to watch the two programs they didn't want win their conference. On the positive side, either one of them would have embarrassed any program in the Big East this season.