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Pat White’s Legacy Still in the Making

By Staff | Dec 29, 2008

When Pat White came to West Virginia University from his home state of Alabama in 2005, it was for one reason and one reason only: he wanted to be a star quarterback. Not only did he accomplish this difficult goal, but he brought a mass frenzy of national media attention to Morgantown.

Apparently, other schools, such as LSU, were only willing to offer White a scholarship if he accepted the role of wide receiver, a position he experimented with in high school.  Bill Stewart actually lined him up as a wide receiver during a play in the game against Louisville this season, but back-up QB Jarrett Brown decided to take the ball into the end zone himself, preventing the nation from seeing a totally unique side to White’s quick and effortless game.

Rich Rodriguez’s decision to choose White ultimately led to the coach’s stardom and his official demise, seeing as his offense at other schools doesn’t seem to work with any other quarterback. In other words, Pat White is the main component of the WVU football program, with every one else involved, including the coaches, acting as bit players in a saga that has finally come to an end.

But now that it’s over, now that it’s but a mere four-year stitch on the fabric of time, how do we remember and honor it? By counting off his numerous achievements?

For starters, he broke the highly coveted NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback, easily passing Missouri’s Brad Smith for the honor. But this was only the tip of the iceberg. White also broke former WVU quarterback and NFL star Marc Bulger’s career record for total offense.

These make up only a small sample of his records and accomplishments. Go to his Wikipedia page if you want to see the entire list—it’s long.

But statistics simply don’t cut it in terms of expressing what he means to the university and the state. His constant determination, intelligent style of play, and love for the state will help craft his legacy. 

The fact that he played so hard and so well for a school that he knew nothing about prior to his later years in high school causes many to admire him that much more. He could have gone to a program closer to home and had a similar level of success, but he opted to role the dice on what many football gurus in the south called the “Big Least.”

And to the ardent fan’s dismay, it may have been largely Rich Rodriguez’s selling points that brought him here. The ex coach knew that he needed someone special to run his offense. He knew that no one else (except maybe Ohio State’s Terrell Pryor) could handle the duties of a combo QB quite as easily. The two men put their trust into each other for three years before an overzealous and money hungry Rodriguez made the worst decision of his life.

When White committed to WVU, he started a journey that would leave many people amazed. To say that he is over appreciated in this state would be an understatement. But why is he over appreciated? Let’s take a look back.

He’s the only quarterback in WVU history to win four straight bowl games (against Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and North Carolina), not to mention two BCS bowl games (those are sort of hard to come by in the NCAA). This may not be well known, but bowl wins of any kind are hard to come by in this state. Consult the archives, or just ask former coach Don Nehlen.

ESPN ranked the 2006 New Year’s bowl game versus Georgia as one of the top five bowl games of the last eight years. It was a game that saw our team and our hero carve a huge lead, only to see it slip away slowly. The team managed to hold on to the lead and eventually won by a narrow margin, 38-35, which was the exact score of the next bowl win. Coincidentally, it was another Georgia team (Georgia Tech).

These synchronicities only help add to Pat White’s winning aura.

Last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, according to many analysts, including the crazed and WVU-hating Lee Corso, wouldn’t be as close as the two previous bowl games. Many expected WVU to lose by multiple touchdowns. The opposite prediction prevailed, and WVU accrued its most impressive win to date, beating a Sooner team that could very well win a national title game in January.

The Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 27 was no different. North Carolina came into the game a slight favorite and left the game a slight loser, with the Mountaineer’s stealing a well fought 1-point victory.

White threw for a career best 332 yards and rushed for 55 yards, a pair of stats that resembles the output of this year’s Heisman trophy winner, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, more than himself.

But that’s what sets White apart from any other QB in college history — he’s unpredictable, fun to watch, and he never chokes during the last game of the season.

UNC probably thought that all they had to do was hold off the Mountaineers running game and the game was as good as theirs. But even their excellent secondary couldn’t stop a great passing day from White.

But I’m sure none of the accomplishments have weighed on his ego. He’s too unselfish, too calm and collective. And he’ll wear that cool, undaunted persona the day he signs his NFL contract. Let’s just hope he doesn’t settle for wide receiver. 

Contact Patrick at pdolan@graffitiwv.com