"With those words came the emphatic end to the best time WVU had ever had playing football. And in typical and tortuous fashion, the curtain fell like a guillotine."
For the people of West Virginia—a state that is often ridiculed and disregarded—their flagship university’s Mountaineer football team is a source of pride, a shining representative for their state on the national stage. When native son and head coach Rich Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to an unexpected Sugar Bowl victory at the end of the 2005 season, behind a youthful roster that included electrifying freshmen Patrick White and Steve Slaton, West Virginia fans figured the best was yet to come.
Instead, the seasons that followed served up endless, stomach-churning drama, pivoting around one of the most earth-shattering upsets in college football history—to be known forever by its final score, 13-9. Successes came the Mountaineers’ way, including three Bowl Championship Series victories in seven years. But so did turbulent coaching changes that splintered the fan base, looming uncertainty caused by ongoing conference realignment, power struggles that forced some into highly embarrassing acts, and enough backstabbing and subterfuge to fill a Shakespearian tragedy. The Mountaineers emerged from the turmoil to face a bright future in a new conference, but will the old demons still haunt them?
As a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, Mike Casazza has covered the Mountaineers for more than a decade; he’s lived WVU football from Nehlen to Rodriguez to Stewart to Holgorsen. In Waiting for the Fall: A Decade of Dreams, Drama and West Virginia University Football, Casazza has written the definitive document of this unprecedented period for West Virginia University football. You'll also read an insightful foreword from ESPN play-by-play announcer and native West Virginian Mike Patrick, who broadcast that infamous loss to Pittsburgh.
Waiting for the Fall is an epic tale that captures the events and emotions that defined an era for West Virginians who experienced it firsthand. It’s also a must-read for football fans who watched with interest as the sport’s most successful team without a national title became a soap opera disguised as a major college football program. And if you’re a sports fan who simply loves a great story told well, Waiting for the Fall is just the sort of page-turner you’ll love.
September 2012: Updated with a new epilogue by the author.
by Mike Casazza || foreword by ESPN announcer Mike Patrick
paperback || now 322 pages
Praise for Waiting for the Fall:
"Casazza’s book sheds light into the personalities and figures making up the drama surrounding West Virginia — which really has been as wild as any program I can think of — with humor and clarity. The book isn’t as behind-the-scenes-Rich-Rodriguez-cried-into-his-hands as John Bacon’s book on Michigan, but Casazza has watched the WVU program carefully and leaves no major turn unreported. I enjoyed the book a great deal."
"... it isn’t so much a “recommendation” as it is “demand.” If you haven’t read Waiting for the Fall … do it. Right now. Like, if you don’t buy it in the next 10 minutes, I’ll be personally offended.
"Really, it’s impossible for me to tell you how good this book is ... I doubt you have any idea how many truly wild things have gone down within the program over the last 10 years ... Forget Tennessee, USC, Michigan or anywhere else: It is West Virginia which has been the most volatile and fascinating program of the last decade."
"If you live and die by what happens to WVU football like I do, or if you just want an insider's view of the last decade'"s craziness, then this book is an absolute MUST read.
"It's a full-color picture of WVU football during those amazing years, from the amazing successes to the underpinnings of impending disaster ... [Casazza] has good sources and is thoughtful and fair at a time when both seem to be in short supply. It was comforting to know that the trials and tribulations of my beloved Mountaineers were in capable hands."
Amber Fillinger, WVU fan:
"I would highly recommend [it] to anyone that loves college sports. My being from WV, I think he certainly captured how myself and many others from WV feel about the state and the team."
The Solid Verbal podcast: Mike Casazza appears at the 20-minute mark.
Newsmakers television show: Mike interviewed by West Virginia Media Holdings' Bray Cary
College Football Zealots: Mike appears on the CFBZ podcast, shortly after the death of former coach Bill Stewart.
Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Blog of former Big East rival Syracuse blog gives its take.