When Da'Seann Butler got hurt during the game last night I stopped caring about the outcome. All I could think about was Butler and how proud I am of my alma mater and the way they carried themselves all season. WVU isn't really supposed to play in final fours or win Big East championships, but they did. A win over Duke would have been sweet, but I think that moment when Butler was lying on the floor with Bob Huggins face to face with him showed people more about what it means to be a Mountaineer and to believe in what it means to love West Virginia than any victory would have. We are always the underdog and because of that we seem to care just a little more about each other. A win would have been great, but I will never forget this season and I will never forget seeing a coach care for his player in front of the world like I did last night.
After Butler lay on the court in obvious pain for a few minutes, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins walked onto the floor. After chirping at officials, Huggins leaned over his player until they were nearly nose-to-nose. Huggins appeared to wipe a tear from Butler's cheek.
"I was just apologizing because I wanted to win it for him, too," Butler said.
"Don't be sorry," Huggins told him. "I love ya."
The scene was one of the more emotional moments in recent NCAA tournament history. A star player crumbling to the floor and his volatile coach helping pick him up.
"I'm not surprised," Butler said. "That's my coach. He's like a father to me. It's something we expect him to do. Maybe everyone else didn't, but we're all a family and we love each other."
What a day yesterday! Nearly all day was spent at the amazingly inspiring TLT Symposium here at Penn State. Another killer event and one that I will try to find words about after a little reflection. I got home last night for a small birthday gathering my wife put together for me to watch my West Virginia Mountaineers beat mighty Kentucky to earn a spot in the Final Four. The highlight had to be sharing it with my wife and calling my Mom and Dad after the game to talk about it. All four of us have WVU ties, so it is a huge deal for us all. The last time WVU pulled this off it was with Jerry West in 1959. Best Birthday present, ever! “Take me home, country roads …”
For 2008, that is. I don’t have the mental energy or attention span to address the great comments from the Community Question on Identity from before the holiday break — rest assured I’ll get to it as the new year rings in. For now I think it is fair to say that I am enjoying some much needed time away from it all. I’ve checked email a total of three times since 12/24 and it has felt great. The good thing is that while my inbox was overflowing, the number of real issues to deal with was zero. What a relief.
We had an amazing Christmas morning — my son is a little over two and he really got the concept this year. He actually played with the gifts and not just the wrapping paper and boxes like last year! My parents came for Christmas Eve and Morning so we had a full house with my sister and brother-in-law also joining. It was a great day! The evening saw us celebrate our daughter’s 7th Birthday (which I am still amazed at).
We went to our hometown of Bloomsburg, PA to visit more with my parents and to see our great friend KP. KP and his wife brought their newborn son to the East Coast for the Holidays and it was amazing getting to hang with the best of friends. We spent time walking, eating local foods, and staying up and out way too late a couple of nights.
My WVU Mountaineers capped a good season by winning their bowl game and then a little later in the day went into Ohio State and beat the 15th ranked Buckeyes by almost 30 points. My Wife, Mother, and Father all have WVU roots so it was fun watching and cheering for them together.
No matter how you slice it up the Holidays are a great time to connect with family and friends. It is also a great time to reflect on the year and to start setting sights on what is to come. So Happy Holidays to everyone and enjoy a very Happy New Years!
I know I am annoying most of my readers, but I need to capture this stuff just the same. I just decided not to go to the WVU – Pitt game in Morgantown this weekend — maybe it was the lack of a hotel room, or maybe I just know that showing up would somehow destroy their mojo. Either way I will be watching from home in HD and (hopefully) enjoying the last bit of work that needs to be done to get my Mountaineers into the BCS title game. I know it is a long shot, but getting there would be sweet!
I know the College Football Season isn’t even close to being over, but I never thought I would see two respected ESPN analysts have WVU in the BCS title game. Clearly it all has to play out on the field, but just seeing this gets me excited! WVU still has to win out over a very good UConn team and Pitt. Both are in Morgantown, but history is against us — this is Thanksgiving week at WVU so the crowd will not be nearly as insane as usual and you can always throw the records out when Pitt and WVU tangle in the Backyard Brawl. What a year this has been and could be.
Just as WVU Basketball was making it all go around, Coach Beileine is heading off to Michigan. Well, it was a fun little run. The last three years? Elite 8, Sweet 16, and NIT Champions. That hurts. At least we found a way to keep Coach Rod to make a run at the football national championship.
Update: It looks like Bob Huggins might be coming home. Not sure how I feel about that given his past with Cincinnati … I will play wait and see. I am happy we went out and got a big name guy and someone who understands and appreciates WVU.
It was certainly nice to see my Mountaineers win the big game. I know it isn’t the NCAA tournament, but I have to say that seeing my alma mater work its way to the NIT Championship was more exciting for me than this year’s Big Dance.
I have to get a grip … four posts in a 24 hour period? My wife jokingly called me prolific earlier today. Even with all the other stuff, I just couldn’t resist pointing to this crazy bit of ink at espn.com … WVU (preseason 5 AP and 7 USAToday) being picked in the national title hunt up there with the big boys. Actually in this piece, they is the big boy. Here’s to no where to go but down.