Big East coaches not panicking over early losses


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Relax -- at least for now.

That's what West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart wants fans to do.

And Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt.

And Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

This is not college football's version of life and death; a loss -- even a tight win -- at this early stage of the season does not mean the sky is falling.

Take, for example, Pitt and Connecticut, which lost opening-week games on the road to Utah and Michigan and, to a lesser degree, West Virginia's overtime escape against Marshall in Week 2.

Were the three coaches disappointed in what happened? Sure. Do they share the perspective that one game, especially early, does not a season make? Absolutely.

"Had we lost the game, it's not the end of the world," Stewart said. "I think that if you coach emotional, and you put all your eggs in one basket for a game and you lose that game, what do you say to your team then? I'm not going to be one of these guys who says 'It's our Super Bowl, and it's a chance to make history, and we've got to do this and we've got to do that.'

"You start that 'got to' stuff, you're in trouble. ... I'm never going to put all our eggs in one basket unless it's the last game of the year."

There is no better example than 2007, when West Virginia lost a September game at South Florida and many counted the Mountaineers out.

But, there they were Dec. 1 that season playing for a shot to get into the national title game.

West Virginia lost to Pitt, 13-9, in Morgantown, but the fact that the Mountaineers were still alive is a testament to how an early season loss can be shrugged aside with a strong push as the season winds into October and beyond.

Edsall, whose team rebounded Saturday from the opening loss to Michigan to wallop Texas Southern, does not subscribe to all the preseason and early season publicity and propaganda; he waits for a little while to get a true gauge on his team.

"To me, the preseason rankings and all that stuff, nobody really knows who is going to be all that good or what is going to happen," Edsall said. "That's why I don't think there should be polls until you get to the first or second week of October.

"Let the whole thing sort out, instead of having all this hype and hoopla with things."

Why does the public perceive some early games as blockbusters that will undeniably change the landscape of the college football season?

Stewart, Edsall and Wannstedt think it is an indefatigable hype machine.

ESPN billed games this past weekend as "Monster Saturday." There was heavy buildup for three games in particular: No. 18 Penn State at No. 1 Alabama, No. 12 Miami at No. 2 Ohio State and No. 17 Florida State at No. 10 Oklahoma.

As it turned out, none of those games was decided by fewer than 12 points; one was decided by 21 and another by 30.

"Everybody is trying to outdo the next," Wannstedt said of the media coverage. "And the end result is a lot of, a lot of hype. ... It is the world we live in today. Everything is obviously magnified, good and bad, more so than what it probably should be."

Stewart just pushes along, admitting he tries to have tunnel vision.

"I know you don't like when I call this sensationalism," Stewart said.

"I don't know how to say it any plainer. This I.T., fast-paced Internet world and sensationalism is just for selling stories, I guess. We've got a long haul to go, we've got 10 more games and, hopefully, if we play well in these final 10, we'll get 11 games [including a bowl], and that will give us 13 on the year.

"That's my approach, and I'm not changing."


NOTE -- West Virginia starting senior cornerback Brandon Hogan, arrested over the weekend for driving under the influence, has been suspended indefinitely.


Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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