Year in Review Pod Special – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Earlier this week, we shared our favorite moments from 2021-22 on The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast.
We also looked ahead to next year’s biggest stories.
These are our five can’t-miss storylines for the upcoming academic year:
Ready, Set, Brawl!
Senior Producer Jamie Green: It’s a pretty obvious choice, which is why it has to go first on our list: I can’t wait for the rebirth of one of college football’s most storied rivalries. I was born and raised in Morgantown, and I grew up going to games. The Backyard Brawl was something I looked forward to every season. Having this historic rivalry renewed will bring me a sense of nostalgia of going to the games as a kid and seeing the passion between both fanbases. I can’t wait to see how this rivalry is played to kick off the 2022-23 season. Cue Country Roads…and Sweet Caroline!
Guess who’s back?
Mountaineer Football Insider Anjelica Trinone: Emmitt Matthews’ return to the WVU men’s basketball program is such a unique story in the transfer portal era. First, his “guess who’s back” announcement was unforgettable. Talk about getting people excited. Athletes transferring has become the norm in college athletics, but I’m not sure how many players have actually used the portal to return to their original program. While it seems there are mixed emotions from the fans on his return, I think this is an opportunity to see the transfer portal in a different light. I’m also looking forward to seeing Matthews in action. It will be interesting to see how much he’s changed in one season at Washington and just how much he can benefit from being back in Morgantown with Bob Huggins.
Huggs to the Hall…and back to Cincy
Digital Content Manager Sam Coniglio: 2022 has already been a big one for Bob Huggins. In April, he got the call from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, where he’ll be permanently enshrined come September. This winter, he’ll also return to a city that was influential in his coaching career. WVU hoops will take on Xavier Dec. 3 in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. While the matchup isn’t exactly a rivalry, it’s one that might be enticing to any college basketball fan, as the former Cincinnati head coach steps back into an old patch of enemy territory. The game against Xavier won’t be the biggest game on West Virginia’s schedule next season, but when it rolls around, the Cintas Center might just become the most hostile building in the country. That one has the makings of a great nonconference atmosphere.
WVU Baseball’s Response to an NCAA Tournament Snub
Reporter Ryan Decker: What I’m looking forward to the most for the upcoming academic year is the WVU baseball team’s response to being left out of the NCAA Tournament. The program is expected to return most — or maybe all — of its starting lineup, and most of the pitching staff will return with another year’s experience under their belt. That, along with the addition of another strong recruiting class, means Randy Mazey and Co. are building another special team like the ones they had in 2017 and 2019 when they reached the national tournament.
Don’t Sleep on The Young Lads
NICK FARRELL: Does it shock you that the Avid Soccer Observer (TM) is sticking with soccer for this? It shouldn’t! I’ll give you a bold prediction: there will not be a more competitive or exciting team on campus next year than WVU men’s soccer. Dan Stratford’s unit was one of the few WVU teams to make an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021-22. Among its counterparts on campus, the success of its Elite Eight run can really only be matched by the rifle team, which placed sixth at the NCAA Championships in March. The majority of the starting lineup from that Elite Eight team will return this season, and by talking to people close to the program, I get the sense that the 2022 unit could be an even better team thanks to a strong recruiting class. Plus, the jump to the Sun Belt makes for even more intriguing storylines. WVU is moving from one strong soccer conference to another, will become conference rivals with Marshall and will play several other top regional opponents in league action. I think the thing that’s most exciting, though, is Mountaineer Nation’s willingness to rally around teams in sports other than football and basketball. Win or lose, those two sports will always sell the most tickets, but fan support of men’s and women’s soccer has also been strong over the years, especially from the student body. You may want to get your tickets quickly, though, because they’re gonna go fast — Mountaineer men’s soccer won’t be the best kept secret in town for much longer.
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