5 Thoughts - 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia QB Pat White
West Virginia QB Pat White
Posted Dec 27, 2008

Is Pat White really a pro prospect? What should the NFL do with him? How about Hakeem Nicks? These thoughts and why this was a special game and why the bowls are better with a packed stadium in the 5 Thoughts on the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

5 Thoughts ... 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl

West Virginia 31 ... North Carolina 30

GAME RECAP: Pat White's special day
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2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

1. It’s the common discussion coming at this time of year when it comes to all-time great college football players who don’t necessarily fit a pro prototype. This year, one of the biggest NFL question marks is Pat White, the all-time greatest running quarterback in college football history. He’s not big enough to be a regular NFL starter and he doesn’t have the arm. He’s accurate and he could be effective for stretches, but he’s not an NFL passer (even with the beautiful laser beam he threw to Alric Arnett for his third touchdown pass of the game). However, if I’m a pro offensive coordinator, I beg, plead, and bribe the general manager to spend a fourth round pick on White and then roll the dice. No, White’s not going to be the franchise quarterback, but in today’s day and age of the single-wing a.k.a. Wildcat formation being used on a regular basis, I’d love to design a package of 5-to-10 plays a game for White to allow him to do a little bit of everything. Unlike using a Darren McFadden or Ronnie Brown under center, White would add another dimension to the offense with his passing ability. If my team is down to an emergency quarterback, why not use White for a game or two here and there? No one would be able to spend enough time to adequately prepare for him. To be a major NFL player, White will also have to show he can be used as a receiver, kick returner or a running back, even if he's saying all the right things about being a quarterback, but if Chris Johnson, who isn’t all that big, and Darren Sproles can succeed as a complementary back, then why not White? It’ll be interesting to see how creative the pro types can be with the Mountaineer star.  - Pete Fiutak

2. I don’t know what the future holds for Pat White in the NFL. I just know that he needs to be given a chance to throw the football in some capacity. He may not fit the prototype, but he’s got a terrific left arm and is a winner. In fact, he’s the winningest quarterback in NCAA postseason history after leading West Virginia to a thrilling comeback win over North Carolina. Have you watched White develop as a passer over the last four years? He’s accurate, has good zip on his passes, and does a nice job of managing the game. Oh, and if things break, word has it he can scramble out of trouble. White doesn’t want to take the Randle-El route to the pros. He wants to remain behind center. After watching him carve up the Heels for 332 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-33 passing, he’s earned a chance to lay out his case in front of scouts over the next three months. - Richard Cirminiello         

3. If only all December bowl games could be like today's showstopper in Charlotte. West Virginia's thrilling win over North Carolina possessed more start-to-finish intensity than any other bowl game this season, even the Poinsettia Bowl. TCU's triumph over Boise State provided an entertaining contest, but with that having been said, the Horned Frogs needed a quarter and a half to get their motor running. West Virginia and North Carolina were ready from the word go, in a frenzied affair that truly felt like a titanic struggle. It's very rare when two teams care the way the Mountaineers and Tar Heels did, in one of those not-so-famous bowl games with one of those off-putting and awkwardly long commercial sponsorship labels. With the way these two squads threw haymakers at each other, you would have thought this was the Orange Bowl. Cincinnati and Virginia Tech, in another Big East-ACC matchup, will both have to play way over their heads to produce anything close to what we saw this afternoon in the home of the Carolina Panthers. - Matthew Zemek
4. Buh-bye, Hakeem Nicks. It’s been fun covering you at this level for the last three years. He can return to Chapel Hill for one more year, but why should he? Sure, Carolina should be poised for an ACC title run in 2009, but Nicks has clearly outgrown the competition, and is ready for new challenges. The type of challenges that pay really well. Although I’m generally a proponent of staying in school because most athletes aren’t as ready as they assume, Nicks is an exception. He’s NFL-ready right now, and in a weak year for receivers, will soar into one of the first two rounds of April’s draft. Against a pretty good West Virginia pass defense, he caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, looking acrobatic on half of the grabs. If he’s using his noodle, it’s the last time Nicks will put on a show without charging admission.
- Richard Cirminiello         

5. Part of the reason why this game (which was played at midday in fog) surpassed the Poinsettia (played on a perfect night in San Diego) is that an actual crowd came to Charlotte and filled the ballpark. As huge as the Boise State-TCU game was, that contest drew fewer than 36,000 fans. Mountaineer and Tar Heel backers roared with delight for three solid hours today, and the energy from the stands certainly helped West Virginia and North Carolina sustain a high effort level for such a long period of time. It's not rocket science: Loud crowds enable players to play faster, stronger and better. When stadiums are dead, players have to generate their own energy and willpower, leading to a poorer product. Yes, the Poinsettia Bowl turned into a wonderful game, a testament to the quality of the two teams on display, but this not-as-sexy bowl--in Charlotte fog--surpassed the showdown in San Diego. Fans--in their numbers and in the strength of their vocal chords--had a lot to do with that.
The point of this comment is not just to compare two bowl games, but to make an important point about the bowl system in general. As money-driven as the bowl system is--a sad reality which creates matchups based more on tourism than raw merit--you can't knock bowl organizers when they seek filled seats instead of high-quality matchups. If Boise State wanted to gain a BCS bowl over Ohio State or other teams, Bronco fans needed to fill Qualcomm Stadium the way North Carolina and West Virginia fans filled Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Yes, Boise (and TCU) fans, the BCS system isn't great. (Not a news flash, to be sure.) But as long as this bowl system exists, the schools who travel well are the schools who will get the benefit of the doubt when premium bowl invites are handed out. If college football fans on the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains think that Eastern media centers don't respect them, today's crowd in Charlotte--combined with the small crowd in the Poinsettia Bowl--offered a perfect reason why.
It's not fair, but as long as West Virginia-North Carolina draws twice as many people as Boise State-TCU (the Poinsettia Bowl attracted alarmingly little national media attention for a game of its stature), teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones can only complain so much.  
- Matthew Zemek