By now, we all know that the 2018 WVU Football season fell just a little bit short of expectations. The Mountaineers were exciting, and at times, even quite good, but they never quite cashed in on the enormous potential of this year’s team. Many fans feel that way, and it seems likely that some of the players do, too. Will Grier, David Sills and Yodny Cajuste probably didn’t pass on the NFL last year for an 8-3 season.
It’s honestly sickening thinking about how close West Virginia was to turning the corner — a coveted win over Oklahoma, a shot at the Big 12 title, an invite to New York for Grier as a Heisman finalist.
Instead, the Mountaineers are playing Syracuse, an old Big East rival that Steve Slaton and Pat White used to smash after a noon kickoff.
2018 was a good, but still disappointing, season. If the regular season left a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, perhaps the Camping World Bowl can be one last blast of Listerine.
There’s an old saying aimed at kids eager to skip out on all the fun and start pulling down a paycheck: “you have the rest of your life to work.” Will Grier is going to have the rest of his life to score bigtime paychecks, tons of endorsements and greatness in the NFL.
The money is going to come. At this point, there’s little doubt about that. But Grier only has one more chance to don the old gold and blue and go beat a rival, with thousands of Mountaineer fans cheering behind him.
Football is the most violent game on the planet, so there’s no shame in Grier, Sills, Jennings, Cajuste, Wesco or any other NFL hopeful (like David Long) sitting out this game to avoid an injury. Like Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette and now Nick Bosa and Ed Oliver, it’s a valid business decision to sit out a “meaningless” bowl game.
It can’t be easy for these players to have lost the Oklahoma game the way that they did. They’re fierce competitors and Mountaineer greats in their own right. As Bill Stewart would say, this is for Mountaineer pride, and they’ve definitely been adopted by Mountaineer Nation forever. Raising a Camping World Bowl trophy wont feel the same as a Big 12 or Heisman Trophy, but going out in style in the team’s ninth win of the season will be a satisfying consolation prize. A full-game of experience for Jack Allison would probably be valuable as he looks ahead to the spring, when he’ll become the next signal caller, but Grier won’t want to look back on his career 30 years from now and think about how he skipped his final collegiate game.
Will Grier has once last opponent to vanquish. The NFL can wait.