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#SettingTheSEEN: Awesome Aspinwall

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

I love a good shopping trip! (I mean, who doesn't?) And I absolutely love combining shopping with delicious organic, vegan food! This week, Sara and I shopped 'til we dropped in Aspinwall, taking in Kristi Boutique, Beautiful Boutique and One Brilliant. After a fabulous day of trying on clothes and accessories, we had worked up an appetite. We headed over to Randita's Organic Vegan Cafe where we indulged in taco salads, peanut stews and chocolate silk pie (which was life affirming!). Check out this week's show and until next time...we'll be seeing you!

Follow @NBSeen on Twitter and @NatalieBenci on Instagram to keep up with #wheresNataliePG

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'10 for 10' No. 4: A Fiesta Bowl win gives rise to the Bill Stewart era

Written by Craig Meyer on .

In this college football desert of July, and with this upcoming season marking the 10th anniversary of West Virginia’s 2005 team that won the Sugar Bowl, I’ve decided to count down the 10 most important Mountaineers games of the past decade.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll work from 10 to one, with one entry appearing every few days. Lists like this are arbitrary by nature, but the hope here is to find the games that had the biggest impact on the West Virginia program both at that time and well into the future. So, before we get going, a disclaimer: these aren’t necessarily the best, most compelling games, but rather the ones that had the most profound role in steering the Mountaineers to where they are today.

On to No. 4:

West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28; Jan. 2, 2008

http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/campus-rivalry/2012/05/21/stewartx-large.jpg

(Photo: Arizona Republic)

There are a few different directions a team can go when it heads into a bowl game without a head coach.

Down the man who guided them throughout the season, some teams crumble, unable to focus entirely on what’s taking place on the field when such uncertainty lingers away from it. Their inner turmoil materializes in the game and, before they can even realize it, their once-promising season ends disastrously. The 2009 Cincinnati team that got pounded, 51-24, by Florida in the Sugar Bowl a few weeks after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame always comes to mind, at least for me.

On the opposite end of the ol’ spectrum, there’s the best-case scenario for teams in such a situation, when any doubt and instability galvanizes them and they accomplish what many believed they couldn’t.

Though other teams have embodied that spirit in the game’s history, few examples stand out more than West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

The Mountaineers entered their game against Oklahoma as an eight-point underdog, given the unappealing task of neutralizing a dynamic offense spearheaded by a future Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick (Sam Bradford).

And those were just the problems they had to face externally. West Virginia not only had to emotionally and psychologically regroup from a Dec. 1 loss to Pitt that cost it a spot in the national championship, but it had to play the Fiesta Bowl without coach Rich Rodriguez, who had accepted the Michigan job not even three weeks earlier.

Under interim coach Bill Stewart, it faced a tall, daunting task. It responded about as well as it could have.

Pat White threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 150 yards, freshman Noel Devine ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns in place of an injured Steve Slaton, and the Mountaineers rolled to a surprisingly easy 20-point victory against the No. 3 Sooners.

Of course, the win was important because it came in a BCS bowl game – the program’s second such win in a three-year span – but more pressingly, the victory effectively negated a wide-ranging search for Rodriguez’s replacement. Hoisted by West Virginia’s impressive performance, an opening that had been associated with names like Butch Jones, Terry Bowden and Jimbo Fisher was ultimately filled by Stewart.

Amidst the euphoria of the Oklahoma game, players and others around the program, like legendary coach Don Nehlen, hailed the decision to hire the man who helped bond a group that could have very easily ripped apart at the seams.

Others, though, weren’t so optimistic. Prominent West Virginia booster Ken Kendrick said “He is so overmatched it’s not even funny,” adding that “They had a wonderful architect and they hired the painter to build the next house,” referencing Rodriguez and Stewart, respectively. College football writer Stewart Mandel, then of Sports Illustrated, wrote that “the chances of him [Stewart] maintaining the program’s recent level of success are about as high as leaving a party at Lindsay Lohan’s place with your fur coat intact.”

For all of the good feelings that came from the win, the hiring of a tight ends coach whose only previous experience as a college head coach came with an 8-25 record in three seasons at VMI was understandably contentious.

Stewart’s on-field results in Morgantown were a mixed bag, though they far exceeded the doomsday scenario that some forecasted when he took over. What was more undeniable was that his four-year tenure was made possible – and was, in many ways, created -- by a win that had implications that resonated far beyond that night.

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Hysteria Translation

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The sting operation and distortion campaign against Planned Parenthood has been red meat for anti-abortion activists and right-wing politicians eager to defund Planned Parenthood. 

072415 Hysteria Translation

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Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams talk about "Southpaw"

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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VIDEO: Pat Narduzzi at ACC Kickoff

Written by Sam Werner on .

PINEHURST, N.C — At ACC media days this week, Pat Narduzzi spoke with reporters for about an hour on a variety of topics. You can see some of that in the video above, and here are a few other notes…

- Here’s a link to my main story from the day on Narduzzi’s willingness to learn as a first-time head coach.

- Just like his players on Monday, one of Narduzzi’s big themes was finishing strong — not just in games, but workouts and practices as well.

“To me, that’s taught and that’s something as a coach where you’ve got to stay on them,” he said. “If you just watch them go through bags, turn your head to the next guy and don’t watch them finish, that’s what you might get on Saturday.”

That carries over to the player-led summer workouts and 7-on-7s, where Narduzzi said players probably aren’t finishing as strongly as they would if they had the coaches watching them.

“We’ll spend the first week and a half of [two-a-days] trying to break all their bad habits for what they did,” he said.

“Last year at Michigan State, our guys wouldn’t finish stuff. We were still breaking those bad habits. It’s just something that happens. If they were as good without us, they wouldn’t need us. That wouldn’t be good if they didn’t need us.”

- He said that, if he were James Conner, he’d be using the preseason Player of the Year snub as motivation this season.

“He’ll have a target on his back, as will our offense, really, with the way they rushed the football last year,” Narduzzi said.

- Just like Conner did Monday, Narduzzi spoke at some length (in the video above) about increasing Conner's role in the passing game. Essentially, Narduzzi and the rest of the staff were confused about why Conner wasn’t in the game on third downs more last year. Conner said he had trouble picking up pass block protections, so that’s something the staff has been working on with him a lot this spring.

- Narduzzi was asked which defensive players have stepped up as leaders this year, and named linebacker Matt Galambos, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and defensive tackle Darryl Render. Now, obviously those aren’t the only guys (Reggie Mitchell will certainly be a leader for this team) but those were the names that came to his mind.

- He has said it before, but there are plenty of similarities Narduzzi sees between this Pitt job and the one Mark Dantonio (and Narduzzi) took at Michigan State eight years ago.

“To me, I like a rebuild,” he said. “To walk into one of the elite programs in the country and take over a bunch of five-star guys, how much fun is that? I don’t know. To me, the fun part of coaching is to take what you have and make something up. To me, it’s very similar to what we had at Michigan State.”

- As a first-year ACC coach, Narduzzi said he and his assistants have already put time in evaluating the different teams in the league.

“You never understand them fully until you get to play them,” he said. “Because you can break them down all you want, you can have a five or six game breakdown, but really what do they like to do against you? What Clemson did against Georgia Tech or what Clemson did against Florida State really doesn’t matter, it’s how are they’re going to look at your offense or your defense, what are they’re going to do against you based on the personnel matchups.”

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One of those teams that Pitt will face every year is Georgia Tech. Narduzzi said he actually spent one practice at Michigan State preparing for the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense because the Spartans were expected to face Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl last season before getting shipped to the Cotton Bowl against Baylor.

“I think we practiced Georgia Tech so I’d get one practice under my belt before I came to Pitt,” he joked.

He did add that Pitt will spend a few practices during fall camp this year preparing for Georgia Tech, which is pretty much in line with what Paul Chryst and company did, as well.

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