Big East 1, ACC 0

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Props to linebacker Pat Lazear (incidentally a native of my hometown, Bethesda, MD), for sealing another bowl victory for the West Virginia Mountaineers by picking off T.J. Yates late in the fourth quarter. If you are a fan of defensive play, you were probably not enamoured with either team's performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but it was a defensive play by the sophomore linebacker that allowed the Big East to go 2-0 in bowls this season, for Pat White to go 4-0 in bowl games in his career as a starting quarterback, for Bill Stewart to win his second straight bowl as a head coach, and for the 'Neers to pull out a 31-30 victory over Butch Davis' Tarheels.

It's no secret that West Virginia has been the standard bearer for the Big East Conference these past few years, by winning two BCS bowls, and constantly impressing national audiences with their creative offensive schemes and ability to win big games. This season however, had been considered a disappointment by many fans in West Virginia, considering the fact that the team was returning Pat White and many members of a stout defense. The team ended the regular season 8-4, prompting many Mountaineer fans to question the hiring of Bill Stewart the day after he led the team to a victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma. Stewart has had some quirky moments over the course of the season, but he indeed vindicated himself with an exciting win over a vaunted UNC team.

I made a plea in earlier blog posts, for WVU fans to cut Bill Stewart some slack in his first season as head coach. After hearing, during the Meineke Car Care Bowl telecast, about Stewart taking a janitor job while working as a UNC Graduate Assistant to make extra money, I gained even more respect for the man. I don't think there is a more ideal coach for the Mountaineers, not only in the "football" sense, but also in the "role model" sense.

More important to Big East fans, the conference now goes to 2-0 in bowl games for 2008/09 (ACC is 1-1), and defeats a hated ACC opponent. The next bowl game for the Big East will be the Bowl, featuring two hot teams: the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the North Carolina State Wolf Pack.

Photo Credit: Nell Redmond