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CURRENT STORIES


Good cause, good music and not so good football play

by John Miller

MANAGING EDITOR

This and that:

HELP IF YOU CAN: As we've documented in recent editions, hunger is a growing problem in our area.

It's easy to understand with recent layoffs contributing to an economy that is too reliant on service-industry wages. Many of our working folks are barely getting by.

Those who can must lend a hand now.

If you haven't already given to your local food pantry, do so.

Contact CRISS-CROSS Information and Referral at 623-6681 for the location of the pantry nearest you. Even if it's just a can or two, your donation will make a difference.

GREAT SHOW: If you didn't catch the Country Music Association's awards show Wednesday night on CBS, you missed a good one.

Instead of typical awards shows that have too much talk and fluff, the show focused on what got it there -- the music. Many of country music's top names performed, with memorable efforts by Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and a duet by Dolly Parton and Norah Jones, along with many others.

The late Johnny Cash was a big winner, and the musical tribute to him -- by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow and Travis Tritt -- was an emotional moment.

TOUGH SEASON: It's a good thing the West Virginia University Mountaineers have bounced back from a slow start and might even be headed to a bowl.

At least they've given area sports fans, who traditionally root for the Gold and Blue as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, something to be happy about.

There have been few smiles in Pittsburgh or among local Steeler fans as the Black and Gold have struggled to a 2-6 start.

It would take a huge turnaround to make the playoffs, as the Steelers are a full three games behind division-leading Baltimore. And it's highly unlikely that any other team from the AFC North would qualify for a wild card berth.

Although the Steelers have been plagued with various injuries, coach Bill Cowher just hasn't made some key moves when needed. And the ones he's tried -- namely benching Jerome Bettis and replacing him with former WVU star Amos Zereoue at the beginning of the season -- have failed miserably.

Now that Bettis has returned to a more prominent role, the Steelers' running game is better but still hasn't produced any victories.

Oh well, at least maybe WVU can finish strong.

SOUTH FLORIDA?: While WVU may be able to bounce back and redeem this season, the future of the Big East as a football conference is bleak.

The league added Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida this week to replace Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. Some deal.

This is like when you were a kid and the neighborhood bully traded you a Cleon Jones baseball card for a Roberto Clemente. You went along with it because you had little choice.

One thing's for sure: There's no reason why WVU's football team can't be a dominant force in the league -- there's no one else left, except Pitt and Syracuse, that has proved itself over time.

The Big East will have a hard time holding onto its coveted spot in the Bowl Championship Series, and rightfully so. Maybe the major conferences -- ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 10 and SEC -- should consider rotating the final BCS spot to the league with the highest performance rating.

As for basketball, the Big East should be one of the more dominant leagues, but can WVU hang with some of these teams on a consistent basis?

Managing Editor John G. Miller can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at jmiller@exponent-telegram.com