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Introducing '10 for 10': The 10 most important WVU games of the past decade

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Time can do many strange things, but one of its most dependable qualities is passing at a rate that raises eyebrows.

For West Virginia fans, it may not seem all that long ago, but this upcoming season marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 Mountaineers team that went 11-1 and defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. That season, and that bowl win, jumpstarted perhaps the most successful era in the program’s history, one that included three more seasons with at least 10 wins and two more victories in BCS bowl games.

With it being July – and with fodder for content being admittedly low – I was thinking it may be interesting to commemorate the occasion by compiling a list of the 10 most important games in that 10-year span. I opted to go with “most important” games to avoid the confusion that would come with “top” or “best” games, since those could include contests that were exciting but had no greater consequence beyond being a really fun way to spend three or four hours. Rather, I’m looking to decide what games had the biggest impact on West Virginia’s program and its trajectory in the college football world, be it from a real or even symbolic standpoint.

Nothing is set in stone, but the countdown will likely start on Thursday with No. 10 and over the next three weeks, we’ll work all the way to No. 1.

For this endeavor, I’m going to ask for a little help.

There’s a lot of research and thought that I can put into the list, but I have limitations; I’ve lived in this region for only about three years and, prior to moving to Pittsburgh, I largely kept up with the Mountaineers from afar. That’s why I’d love to get input from West Virginia fans, the emotionally-invested people who lived through these moments and experienced them in a way I never did. The final say for the rankings will ultimately be mine, but ideally, reader feedback can play some kind of a role.

If there’s a game, or games, you think should be included, shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or feel free to hit me up on Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

 

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

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Karl Joseph named to Bednarik watch list

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Karl Joseph USAT

(Photo: USA Today)

Nothing signals the impending start of a college football season more than the release of a slew of award watch lists.

On Tuesday, a pair of those lists were revealed and one included the name of a West Virginia player. Mountaineers safety Karl Joseph was named to the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the top defensive player in college football.

Joseph was one of 11 Big 12 players whose name appeared on the list. No West Virginia player was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which honors the top player in college football.

Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced in early Nov. 2015, while the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 23. The winner of the 2015 award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 10.

“I consider Karl a throwback to the days of hard-nosed football when fundamentals were at the forefront and every player wanted to learn and get them right," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “He comes to practice every day with the goal to improve. He wants to win football games and prepares for hours each week no matter the opponent and is never afraid to ask what he did wrong or how he can improve to be a better player, leader and teammate.

"This is a good honor for Karl as he prepares for his senior season. His work ethic has paid off. He is always around the ball and each of the past three years, he has been among our leaders in tackles, big plays and consistency. I love his competitive spirit, but I also admire his work ethic as a student and being a good teammate."

Last season, Joseph finished with 92 tackles -- 62 of which were solo -- a team-leading three forced fumbles and an interception en route to collecting first-team all-Big 12 accolades.

There's a certain absurdity to these watch lists -- there are 80 players on the Bednarik list alone -- but, hey, it's early July and these sort of things fulfill their purpose: they get people talking about college football with 50-something days before any game of actual consequence kicks off.

 

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

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Empty Netter Assists - Capitals re-sign Kuznetsov - 07-07-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff, a native of McKees Rocks, will participate in the Penguins' development camp next week.

-Happy 41st birthday to former Penguins goaltender Patrick Lalime (right). A sixth-round pick in 1993, Lalime made his NHL debut in the 1996-97 season. He would go 14-0-2 in his first 16 starts and establish an NHL record which still stands for longest unbeaten streak to start a career for a goaltender. Lalime would finish with a 21-12-2 record along with a 2.94 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and three shutouts. As a result of that success, he was selected as a member of the NHL's all-rookie team. It would end up being his only season with the Penguins as he would hold out the 1997-98 season due to a contract squabble. At the 1998 trade deadline, his signing rights were dealt to the Mighty Ducks in exchange for Sean Pronger. He is currently a broadcaster with RDS in Canada.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Capitals re-signed restricted free agent forward Evgeny Kuznetsov to a two-year contract worth a total of $6 million. Coming off the last year of an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000, Kuznetsov's new deal will have a cap hit of $3 million. Kuznetsov, 23, appeared in 80 games last season and scored 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists).

-EN Says: This is a bridge contract which will allow Kuznetsov to earn a longer-term deal. A first-round pick (No. 26 overall) in 2010, Kuznetsov played his first full-season in the NHL last season and had some mixed results. Part of it was attributed to adjustments of playing and living in North America (as opposed to his native Russia). In the later stages of the regular season and into the postseason, he settled into the Capitals' No. 2 center position. A wonderfully skilled player who can play multiple positions, Kutznetsov also brings a little bit of grit. There are few limits on how high his ceiling can be.

-It took seven years for Capitals defenseman and former Penguin Taylor Chorney to finally earn his first one-way contract.

Atlantic Division

-The Maple Leafs signed former Canucks forward Shawn Matthias to a one-year contract worth $2.3 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.75 million, Matthias, 27, appeared in 78 games last season and scored 27 points (18 goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: This is a shrewd signing. Matthias nearly hit the 20-goal mark last season while playing on the Canucks' third line with little power-play time. A big body (6-foot-4, 216 pounds), Matthias plays a solid two-way game, including on the penalty kill.

-The Bruins signed restricted free agent forward Jimmy Hayes (right) to a three-year contract worth a total of $6.9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $925,000, Hayes' new deal will have a cap hit of $2.3 million. Hayes, 25, appeared in 72 games with the Panthers last season and scored 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists). The Bruins acquired his signing rights in a trade last week.

-EN Says: Hayes is a massive (6-foot-6, 221 pounds) man who can do a little bit of everything. He broke through last season by nearly hitting the 20-goal mark. Despite his size, he's not overly physical. He'll be expected to be productive and physical with the Bruins.

-The Bruins re-signed forward Brett Connolly to a one-year contract worth a total of $1.025 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $850,500, Connolly, 23, appeared in 55 games last season with the Bruins as well as Lightning and scored 17 points (12 goals, five assists).

-EN Says: Connolly is a former first-round pick (No. 6 overall) in 2010 who never quite worked out for the Lightning. He was traded to the Bruins at the trade deadline last season and was sidelined for 15 games due to a broken finger. Connolly is a smart player who can play center or wing. He just needs to find consistency.

-The Bruins signed former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Brandon DeFazio to a one-year, two-way contract.

-The Sabres hired former Kelowna Rockets (WHL) head coach Dan Lambert as an assistant coach.

-Lambert was a teammate of Sabres coach (and former Penguins coach) Dan Bylsma with the AHL's Moncton Hawks.

-Former Flyers/Predators forward Triston Grant has joined the Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Red Wings.

Central Division

-"I'm two years older. I don't know if I'm a different player or not. Maybe a little bit, maybe not. We'll see." - Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov (right) on being away from the NHL for two seasons.

-As they deal with a salary cap crunch, the Blackhawks are still trying to work out deals with restricted free agent forward Marcus Kruger and unrestricted free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya.

-Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom revealed his elbow injury involved nerve damage which prevented him from using his right hand while driving a car or holding a phone.

-Stars forward Tyler Seguin is appearing in ESPN magazine's "Body" issue.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes signed forward Dylan Strome, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, to a three-year entry-level contract. Strome, 18, appeared in 68 games with the Erie Otters last season and scored 129 points (45 goals, 84 assists).

-The Oilers elected to take restricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz to arbitration.

-The Oilers acquired the signing rights to restricted free agent goaltender Anders Nilsson from the Blackhawks in exchange for forward prospect Liam Coughlin. After the trade, Nilson signed a one-year deal worth $1 million. Nilsson, 25, appeared in 20 games last season with Kazan Ak-Bars of Russia's KHL and had a 13-7-0 record with a 1.54 goals against average, .935 save percentage and six shutouts. Coughlin, 20, was a fifth-round pick in 2014. Last season, he appeared in 54 games with the BCJHL's Vernon Vipers and scored 60 points (20 goals, 40 assists).

(Photos: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images, Glenn Cratty/Allsport and Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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Duquesne attendance decreased in 2015

Written by Craig Meyer on .

The NCAA released attendance figures from the 2014-15 season on Monday and while there was an uptick in the number of people who went to college basketball games, Duquesne experienced a notable decrease.

The Dukes' average attendance last season was 2,270, down from the 2,990 figure that they posted during the 2013-14 season. It marked the second-consecutive season in which they saw their average attendance decline and the 11th-consecutive time that they failed to draw at least 4,000 fans per game.

Duquesne attendance

Given the program's recent struggles, it's not much of a surprise that Duquesne has had trouble getting fans to the 4,390-seat A.J. Palumbo Center.

But even in an Atlantic 10 conference that saw 10 of its 14 teams undergo an attendance decrease in 2014-15 -- one year after the league sent six teams to the NCAA tournament -- the Dukes' drop is noticeable. With their 24.08 percent decrease, they had the third-sharpest attendance downturn of any A-10 team.

A-10 attendance

With four of its five starters back next season, along the eligible transfers Rene Castro and Mar'Qywell Jackson, it will be interesting to see how these numbers look next season after what should be an improved season for Duquesne.

The NCAA's full attendance report can be found here. 

 

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

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Mountaineers in midst of busy recruiting month

Written by Craig Meyer on .

During a time of year when college football storylines are typically hard to come by, West Virginia has been creating more than its fair share.

In a 32-day stretch from June 2 to July 4, the Mountaineers landed commitments from eight players in the class of 2016, including five in an 11-day period. While this is certainly a time of year when players from the upcoming class begin to make a pledge in droves, the number of players who committed to West Virginia is certainly noteworthy (aside from Texas Tech, no other Big 12 school had more than five commitments in that span).

That list of recruits includes:

Name Position Stars Commit date Other offers
Jacob Buccigrossi OL 2 June 2 Arizona, Northwestern, Syracuse, Virginia
Trevon Wesco TE 3 June 4 Akron, Buffalo, Central Florida
Josh Sills OL 3 June 14 Cincinnati, Michigan, Ohio, Toledo
Kyzir White DB 4 June 16 Arizona State, Illinois, Louisville, Pitt
Jonn Young K 2 June 17 None listed
Martell Pettaway RB 3 June 23 Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State
Adam Hensley LB 3 June 24 UConn, Illinois, Ohio, Toledo
Kennedy McKoy RB 3 July 4 BC, Louisville, North Carolina, NC State

In all, that group includes five three-star players, two two-stars and one-four star (defensive back Kyzir White, who is the younger brother of Kevin White). Two of the players -- White and Wesco -- come from Lackawanna Community College, where the Mountaineers have gotten four players in the past four recruiting classes.

With that rush of commitments, West Virginia is up to No. 33 in the Rivals.com team rankings for the 2016 class, a ranking can partially be attributed to its sheer number of committed players (15 total). Among Big 12 teams, the Mountaineers are fourth in the rankings.

 

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

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