News & Notes: Pushing Season Opener Back A Day

 News & Notes: Pushing Season Opener Back A Day


The Black Diamond Trophy will have to wait in limbo for an extra day. But after 12 years, what’s another 31 hours or so.

The renewal of the West Virginia/Virginia Tech football rivalry has been moved back to Sunday, Sept. 3. The game, which will be played at FedExField in Landover, Md., will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ABC.

The 52nd meeting between the Mountaineers and Hokies, who haven’t faced off on the gridiron since 2005, was originally slated for Saturday, Sept. 2, but was moved back a day to accommodate a national TV broadcast. Normally college football avoids Sunday and Monday games so as to not conflict with the National Football League. But the regular season for the NFL doesn’t start until the following week, so colleges have often taken advantage of its absence by playing a few games on the Sunday and Monday of that Labor Day Weekend. Besides WVU and VT, the only other FBS game currently scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 3 is Texas A&M at UCLA, which is listed as a 7:30 or 8 p.m. (ET) start. In addition, Georgia Tech will meet Tennessee at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 4 as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. Thus the Mountaineers and Hokies will get a lot of attention by playing on Sunday.

This will be the third time West Virginia has opened its football season on a Sunday in the 126-year history of the program. In 2005, Rich Rodriguez and the Mountaineers traveled to Syracuse for a Sunday opener and squeaked by the Orange 15-7 despite not scoring an offensive touchdown. WVU’s starting lineup that day of offensive struggles featured Adam Bednarik at quarterback and Jason Colson at running back. By the end of that season, Pat White and Steve Slaton had assumed the starting mantels at those positions respectively, and West Virginia posted 502 total yards and five offensive TDs in a 38-35 Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia.

Then the Mountaineers kicked off the beginning of the Dana Holgorsen era with a game in Morgantown against Marshall that started on Sunday and nearly finished on Monday, though the contest never did reach an actual completion. Lightning stopped the game multiple times and eventually WVU was declared a 34-13 winner with 14:36 remaining in a fourth quarter. Officials from both schools agreed to halt the contest, which had started at 3:37 p.m., at 10:24 p.m. following a fourth and final lightning delay. Like in 2005, that odd 2011 Sunday opener also saw WVU’s season conclude with a BCS-bowl victory, as the Mountaineers shocked Clemson in the Orange Bowl 70-33 to wrap up Holgorsen’s first campaign.

West Virginia also began the 1994 season on a non-Saturday, as it lost to Nebraska 31-0 at the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday, Aug. 29.

The Mountaineers not only won both their previous two Sunday openers, but they also followed up each with a victory, as they defeated Wofford, 35-7, in 2005 after its win at Syracuse, and then downed Norfolk State, 55-12, six days after the lightning-shorted triumph over Marshall in 2011.

This year WVU will follow up its Sunday opener with a non-FCS foe, as it will host East Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 9. The Pirates, who were 3-9 last season, begin their 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, as they host the defending FCS national champion James Madison.

West Virginia’s trip to FedExField this fall will be its third game in the past six years in Landover at the home of the Washington Redskins. WVU is 2-0 at that stadium, having defeated James Madison, 42-12, there in 2012 and then holding off BYU, 35-32, there last fall.

This season’s opener at FedExField will also be just the second time in the last 12 years that the Mountaineers start their schedule away from Morgantown. In 2014, WVU also began the season with a neutral site game, falling to Alabama, 33-23, in the Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. But other than that, West Virginia has opened every season since 2006 with a home game. The neutral site opener will remain semi-regular for the Mountaineers in the years to come, though, as they are slated to start the 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte and will kickoff 2020 against Florida State in Atlanta.

West Virginia holds a 28-22-1 record all-time against Virginia Tech. The two programs first met in 1912 and were common opponents throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, before playing on an annual basis from 1973-2005. The series came to an end a year after the Hokies left the Big East for the ACC, and WVU then found a new conference home itself in 2012. After this year’s neutral site meeting, VT and West Virginia also will play a two-game home-and-home series starting in 2021 in Morgantown followed by a contest in Blacksburg in 2022.

* * * * * *

West Virginia men’s basketball guard Jevon Carter was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Defensive Player of the Year at the annual AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show on April 2 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.

A junior from Maywood, Ill., Carter was named the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Big 12 all-defensive team for the third year in a row. He became the third player in Big 12 history to be named a three-time member of the all-defensive team.

Carter led the Big 12 Conference in steals, finishing the season with 92, the second-most steals in a season in WVU history. For his career, Carter has 218 career steals and needs 34 to break the school record.

In the final NCAA stats for the 2016-17 season, Carter helped the Mountaineers (28-9) to lead the country in steals per game (10.0) and turnover margin (+7.7)

* * * * * *

Carter’s teammate this past season, Nate Adrian, was recently named the Big 12’s men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year.

The senior from Morgantown held a 3.85 GPA and a 100 percent participation rate will in the master’s program in sports management at WVU this past year. He started all 37 games in 2016-17 for the Mountaineers, who advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-9 forward, who was a third-team all-Big 12 selection and also a member of the league’s all-defensive team in 2017, was third in the team in scoring (9.6 points per game), assists (108) and steals (48) this past season, while leading the squad in rebounding (6.0 per game). Adrian obtained his bachelor’s degree in finance in three years, and spent his senior year working on his master’s. He played the last part of the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery a couple weeks after WVU’s last game. Adrian had a fairly significant tear in his labrum that was repaired and will now take up to a 10 weeks to rehab.

Amelie Currat, a junior swimmer at WVU, was the only other Mountaineer named by the Big 12 as a 2017 Winter Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A finance major from Dunkerque, France, Currat received a 4.0 GPA this past year.

* * * * * *

The Mountaineer women’s team also had a player receive national recognition.

WVU sophomore guard Tynice Martin was named All-America Honorable Mention by both the Associated Press and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

Martin was one of 23 student-athletes named All-America Honorable Mention by the A.P., while 15 were selected to three All-America teams. Martin is the seventh Mountaineer to garner AP All-America Honorable Mention distinction. She is the first sophomore in program history to earn both A.P. and WBCA All-American Honorable Mention notice. Martin helped lead the Mountaineers to a 24-11 record, the Big 12 Tournament championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s second round. WVU completed the season ranked No. 20 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

This season, Martin was a unanimous All-Big 12 first-team selection. She scored 82 points in the Big 12 Championship for third-most all-time and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Martin tallied three 30-point games this season, including a Big 12 Championship final game-record 32 points in WVU’s 77-66 victory over Baylor (March 6) to claim the tournament crown. Martin became the 34th Mountaineer overall and the third-quickest to reach the 1,000-point milestone with her 26 points in the NCAA Tournament first round victory over Elon.

Martin, finished second in the Big 12 with 18.6 points per game, is the second sophomore in program history, joining Bria Holmes in 2014, to earn AP All-America Honorable Mention recognition. WVU has had at least one A.P. All-America Honorable Mention in the last four years: Asya Bussie (2014), Bria Holmes (2015-16) and Martin (2017).

Other Big 12 A.P. All-America Honorable Mentions included: Kalani Brown (Baylor), Alexis Jones (Baylor) and Brooke McCarty (Texas).