WVU football: Heart of Dallas Bowl was far from meaningless

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 26: Siale Fakailoatonga
DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 26: Siale Fakailoatonga /

That Heart of Dallas Bowl trophy would have looked nice in the WVU football team’s case inside the Milan Puskar Center.

Any game that offers a trophy to winner shouldn’t be considered meaningless, however that’s how many college football fans feel about bowl games. So, maybe there are too many bowls and there now is the College Football Playoff, but that shouldn’t devalue the lower- and mid-level bowl games.

Yes, the Heart of Dallas Bowl was played the day after Christmas and in the afternoon, but those factors shouldn’t have influenced those actually playing the game. The players were said to have looked disinterested in the game. Many people on social media felt the Mountaineers looked flat. That may have seemed to be the case, but come on, what lifelong football player wouldn’t want to get a chance to play a game on national television.

From a fan’s perspective, the game shouldn’t have been meaningless simply because it pitted the WVU football team against a different Power 5 team. If West Virginia was playing Utah in an out-of-conference regular season game, it would not be considered meaningless. So the question remains, is a regular season game more important than a postseason game? In some cases, maybe. But every game should be looked at as an opportunity to get better and, simply, win.

Next season, the Mountaineers take on Tennessee and North Carolina State in the out-of-conference slate. Nobody is saying those games are meaningless, even though the Mountaineers really don’t have a unique history with those teams. Now, this past season, West Virginia played Virginia Tech. Everybody had their attention on that because the Hokies and Mountaineers are old rivals.

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Maybe people didn’t care about the Utah game because the Utes and Mountaineers don’t have any connection to the Pac-12 squad. Well, North Carolina State and Tennessee bring about the same to the table that Utah has in recent years.

Bowl games give everybody associated with a college team a chance to prove themselves on a national stage. Even though the attendance inside the Cotton Bowl didn’t show it, there were probably a ton of Utah fans tuned into this game because their team had a nice winning streak to end the season. West Virginia had lost its last two regular season games and apathy was setting in with the WVU football fanbase.

A win against Utah would have jolted the fanbase and the players for 2018, although there would still be a small faction that would remain disinterested. The only true way the WVU football team can win over the fanbase in a bowl game is by making the College Football Playoff, it seems.

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Well, next season might be the time for that to happen. Will Grier will be the quarterback, not Chris Chugunov. And, Dana Holgorsen knows what needs to be fixed. Nothing will be meaningless for the WVU football team during the 2018 season.