WHEELING - The question was asked repeatedly, followed each time by my you've-gotta-be-kidding-me grin as the response. 'What happens when Geno Smith isn't perfect?'
Prior to Saturday I hadn't even considered this as something that was actually possible. Not with the precision in which Smith and the Mountaineers were cutting up the opposition on a weekly basis.
Welcome to the life of a West Virginia fan, where the only thing worse than the eventual torture is the belief that, yes, this is in fact the year we finally get it done. Ah, but I digress.
Turns out that offense can be stopped. Got bounced around like a tumble weed on those plains. Texas Tech 49, West Virginia 14, is what the scoreboard read.
Don't go jumping off those cliffs just yet though, Mountaineers fans. This thing isn't over.
Not by a long shot, actually, and you can thank Oliver Luck - when don't we these days? - for that. You see, one loss in the Big East and that was all she wrote. There wasn't a chance at redemption down the road, and even if there was it wasn't going to be taken seriously by the national media.
But in legit leagues like the Big 12 they beat each other up on a weekly basis and that's an acceptable fact of life. The difference is, you have a chance to take a mulligan and West Virginia may be taking its at the perfect time.
You see, the schedule tells me that West Virginia still plays a pair of Top-10 teams this season - both in Morgantown. No. 4 (BCS) and undefeated Kansas State and Heisman hopeful quarterback Collin Klein invade this weekend, and two weeks later it's Landry Jones and No. 10 Oklahoma making the trek to the mountains. Win both of those games and that will make four victories against Top-25 teams, including two inside the Top-10. And there's also a good chance two more Top-25 teams will be waiting when the Mountaineers travel to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State and play host to TCU. The Horned Frogs were ranked No. 23 in the initial BCS standings, while the Cyclones are 24th.
And last I checked, LSU, Florida State, South Carolina, USC, Oklahoma and Georgia all have a loss.
It's all right to be a little down. Just keep in mind the Mountaineers are not out.
True Baseball Man
Buckeye Local graduate George Laase is still moving up in the baseball ranks. The head coach of Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Va., Laase took on a second job recently as the manager of the Staunton Braves, a member of the Valley Baseball League, a not-for-profit college summer league.
The VBL is funded in part by a grant from Major League Baseball and is a member of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, a national affiliation of summer leagues. The league has produced more than 1,000 professional baseball players, including a record 79 former players drafted in the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Laase, 30, played for the Braves in 2003 and was an assistant in 2004, 2007 and 2011.
Congrats to one of the true baseball men out there. Well deserved.
Speaking of Baseball
Tyler Consolidated got a good one when it hired Chris Amedro as the school's new baseball coach. A former all-stater at John Marshall, Amedro went on to carve out a nice career for himself as a pitcher at West Virginia University.
It won't be long before the Silver Knights are contending.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net