The record will show that Fleenor is wrong

December 31, 2003|by DAVE ELLIOTT

I haven't read the column Bob Fleenor has penned for the upcoming Maryland-WVU Gator Bowl match-up. No need.

No need to read the obligatory chest-thumping over West Virginia's mid-season resurrection. No need to pore over the offensive skills of running back Quincy Wilson the superhuman defense of Grant Wiley. No need to read Bob gushing about the job Rich Rodriguez has done as head coach.

No need, you see, because I read this column the first time he wrote it - prior to last year's Maryland-WVU game in Morgantown. This astute piece of commentary was written just prior to the Terps' 48-17 waxing of the Mountaineers.

If your memory banks are a bit foggy, allow me:

What Bob wrote: " Yet, surprisingly, Maryland is a 3-point underdog at West Virginia. Surprisingly? Yeah, because the line is only 3."


What actually happened: With Maryland up 35-0 early in the second quarter, those sitting near Bob in the stands reported hearing him say, "Well, now you know why I got out of sports."

What Bob wrote: "Before the sun sets Saturday, the Terps will know linebacker Grant Wiley's face better than their own grandmothers.'"

What actually happened: By the time the sun set Saturday, the only time Wiley's name had been called was by Bob himself, screaming at the linebacker to, tastefully put, "remove your head from your posterior and play some *! football!"

What Bob wrote: "Linebacker E.J. Henderson kicker Nick Novak and return man Steve Suter might keep the Terrapins close."

What actually happened: With Maryland up 35-0 early in the second quarter, those sitting near Bob in the stands reported well, you get the picture.

This season, before the Terps' 34-7 whacking of WVU in September, Bob was savvy enough to keep his mug out of the paper. But here he is, right back in the water.

And, perhaps, that's the point. The magic of sports, and all the emotion we tie up in rooting for our teams, can sometimes blur the lines of reality even for a five-time Jeopardy champ.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Maryland fan, but I have to admit I can be pretty tough on the team. Wide receiver Jafar Williams much of the time can't, as the saying goes, catch a cold. Quarterback Scott McBrien could take lessons in throwing a spiral from Billy Kilmer. Still, the team gets it done.

You can count on one hand the games the Terps should have won, and haven't, since Ralph Friedgen took over three years ago. Maryland used to routinely drop three or four of those in a season.

And, sorry to say, WVU fans, this is a game the Terps should (and will) win. They're deeper, have more weapons and are better coached. They also have West Virginia's number.

Say what you want about how tough it is to beat a team repeatedly in the same season. I'll take my chances. The cumulative score of the last two games played by the teams is Maryland 82, WVU 24. That's a lot to a little, as a friend of mine might say.

Those numbers say more than words when it comes to the different levels of play the two teams are capable of.

Yes, the Mountaineers are playing well of late, and the team's certainly come a long way from the squad I saw drop a home game to Temple two years ago. So ...

Maryland 37, West Virginia 13.

Dave Elliott is Human Resources Director of The Herald-Mail Co. In a former life, he worked for Bob Fleenor as a sports writer for The Morning Herald. Perhaps that's why Bob really got out of sports.

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