By Wendell Barnhouse
When your father has spent the last 40 years as a college football assistant coach, you grow up around the game and you collect some unique experiences. For Clint Trickett, one of his memories of life as a football son went so viral that the Internet was exhausting all available band width.
Trickett is West Virginia's senior quarterback. His father Rick is currently the assistant head coach/offensive line coach at Florida State. The elder Trickett has been molding tough-minded, hard-charging lines since 1989 at schools like Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU and West Virginia.
The time the Tricketts spent in Morgantown convinced Clint to transfer from Florida State, where he was a backup. He'll start for the Mountaineers when they face No. 2 Alabama Saturday in Atlanta. Nick Saban is the Crimson Tide's coach and for one season Rick Trickett was his O-line coach.
This is where the story ignited Tuesday. During interviews discussing Saturday's game, Clint Trickett revealed that he had an up-close-and-personal encounter with Saban's daughter Kristen.
"His daughter was my first kiss back in the day," Clint said. "So, yeah...I don't know if I should have said that. She's actually engaged now. Coach Nick is one of the greatest there is. My brother worked for him. He was a (graduate assistant) for him … And we've known him for years, family friends and just one of the best coaches out there.
"For clarification, we were like six years old! Just so everyone knows that."
Clarification, in this case, is prudent. Considering the Crimson Tide came within an unimaginable loss to Auburn of playing for a third consecutive national championship, then lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, giving Nick Saban a personal grudge to settle would not be wise.
And to further flesh out the six degrees of separation for the opening weekend: Clint Trickett was the starting quarterback for West Virginia in its best victory last season, an upset of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys open the season against Florida State.
Cowboy Up, Cowboy Down
The Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium pits Oklahoma State against defending national champion Florida State. The teams that participated in the previous five Classics had divergent outcomes to their seasons.
2009: No. 20 BYU defeated No. 3 Oklahoma, 14-13. BYU finished the season 11-2 and ranked 12th. The Sooners finished 8-5 and unranked.
2010: No. 6 TCU defeated No. 24 Oregon State, 30-21. TCU finished 13-0, ranked No. 2 and won the Rose Bowl. Oregon State finished 8-5 and unranked.
2011: No. 4 LSU defeated No. 5 Oregon, 40-27. LSU wound up 13-1 but lost the BCS title game to Alabama. Oregon went 12-2 and was ranked No. 4.
2012: No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 8 Michigan, 41-14. Alabama went 13-1 and won the national championship. Michigan finished the season 8-5 ranked 24th.
2013: No. 12 LSU defeated No. 20 TCU, 37-27. LSU finished the season 10-3 and ranked 14th. TCU went 4-8 and was unranked.
Can We Have A Word?
ESPN recently asked the 65 coaches in the "power five" (plus Notre Dame) conferences to describe their teams in one word. A few stretched that to a two-word description. Here's how the Big 12's coaches answered:
Baylor's Art Briles: Mad
Iowa State's Paul Rhoads: Hungry
Kansas' Charlie Weis: Quiet confidence
Kansas State's Bill Snyder: Valued
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops: Hard working
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy: Youthful
TCU's Gary Patterson: Unknown
Texas' Charlie Strong: Hard work
Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury: Improved
West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen: Experienced
The Count, a blog of the Wall Street Journal, compiled the records of major-conference coaches against Associated Press top-25 opponents. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops' record of 50-23 topped the list in terms of winning percentage. In terms of total victories, Stoops is surpassed only by his former boss – South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, who also has coached at Florida and Duke and has 62 victories (in 24 seasons) against Top 25 foes.
Three former Big 12 quarterbacks who transferred are starting at their new schools – Michael Brewer (Texas Tech) at Virginia Tech, Wes Lunt (Oklahoma State) at Illinois and Daniel Sams (Kansas State) at McNeese State.
Vincent Testaverde listed as Texas Tech's third-team quarterback behind sophomore Davis Webb and freshman Patrick Mahomes. Testaverde is a freshman walk-on who is the son of former Miami (Fla.) quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who led the Hurricanes to a 61-11 victory over the Red Raiders in 1986.
Oklahoma's season opener with Louisiana Tech will debut a "Walk of Champions" to the pregame activities. Two hours before each home game, coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners will disembark from the OU team busses at the intersection of Lindsey St. and Jenkins Ave. to begin an informal march. Prior to the team's arrival, OU Spirit and OU Football alumni will conduct an informal pep rally as they wait for the team's arrival.
Former Iowa State running back Hiawatha Rutland, 33, drowned earlier this week in Lake Erie. Rutland rushed for a team-high 614 yards in 2002. A strange twist to the story is that the Cyclones' leading rushers from 2000 through 2006 have died. Ennis Haywood died in 2003 and Steve Hicks died in 2008. This season's team is mourning the death of assistant coach Curtis Bray, who died of a pulmonary embolism in January.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads on if he feels any pressure in 2014 with the Cyclones coming off their worst season under his leadership:
"There's all kinds of weight on my shoulders every year. It doesn't come from (athletic director Jamie Pollard's) office. It doesn't come from the fans, and it doesn't come from (his wife) Vickie. "It comes from me."
Oklahoma State corner back on the Cowboys facing defending national champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston:
"I feel like we're blessed to be able to get this opportunity. Because nobody really gets the chance to be able to play the Heisman Trophy winner and the defending national champs the very first game, especially a program that's preaching championships all the time. You want to be a champion, you've got to go against the defending national champions. You've got to be able to show what you can do against a caliber of team like that."
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who was the Cowboys' quarterback from 1986-89, on the differences in practices between then and now:
"A hundred years ago when we were doing it, it was twice a day, three hours a day. They didn't even take a temperature for anybody to know there was a danger of being on the turf. (Coaches) told you to keep your mouth shut and keep practicing. Today, there's only a certain number of two-a-days … everything else is a single practice with walk-throughs in the afternoon with the new restrictions. It's not near as trying on your body mentally or physically as what it used to be."
Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino is now the Iowa State offensive coordinator and he says he's not actively pursuing head coaching positions:
"I'm really focused on the Iowa State thing. They've treated me great here from the administration to the people who cut the grass. I live for the present. If something comes by that's good fit for me and I'm a good fit for them, I would consider it. But I'm not hanging out a For Hire sign."
Texas running back Johnathan Gray on junior quarterback David Ash:
"He's not really down on himself anymore. He's telling people where to be, what to do. He knows what he has to do to help the team and still be a part of the team with staying healthy. He knows that it's his job as the quarterback to be a leader for the team and step up, regardless of what happens. I can't wait for the season to start and for him to excel."