Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Morgantown's couch 'scheme' lights up debate

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by The Great Couch-Burning Scheme: total genius.

Q: Scheme?

A: Surely you know how hard it is to get rid of old couches. It's impossible. The trash man won't take 'em, so you've got to get a truck and haul them to the landfill, pay a fee and do it yourself. A real pain.

Q: Are you suggesting burning your couch on the street while celebrating a football victory is a better way to dispose of it?

A: No, no, no. My alma mater has a problem with that, too. I never understood that reaction -- win a game, grab a match -- but now it all makes sense.

Q: How so?

A: West Virginia fans did enough couch burning over the years that, this week, the city of Morgantown took action in advance of today's big home game against LSU. In what they termed a "furniture abatement program," officials sent out dump trucks to collect couches, chairs and trash that people had on their porches.

Q: Free?

A: Free!

Q: Yeah, but doesn't this just perpetuate a bad stereotype?

A: Fair trade for free couch removal, if you ask me. And the city benefits, too.

"If we win, maybe we won't have as many fires," Fire Marshall Capt. Ken Tennant told The Associated Press. "And if there are some fires, we hope that reduces the size of the fires."

Q: Let's hope so. Staying in the Mountain State -- Virginia Tech travels to Marshall today. The Hokies are favored by three touchdowns. What's the No. 1 thing they need to do as they complete their nonconference schedule?

A: Score. A lot. Ohio put up 44 points on Marshall last week. The Hokies need to register at least that many. They haven't been particularly sharp offensively since the opener. It would be nice to see that change with Clemson coming in next week.

Q: What will you be looking for in the Southern Miss-UVa game?

A: Attendance. Close to 52,000 showed up for UVa's opener against William and Mary. That's pretty good. But 54,000 showed up for last year's opener against Richmond, and UVa had two home games later that season draw fewer than 40,000, including one against Miami. Few ACC teams are attracting the crowds they did five years ago, but this remains an interesting number to track when a program's trying to build.

Q: Is today's Florida State-Clemson matchup a de facto Atlantic Division title game?

A: Can't go there yet. I like the Tigers this year (and in this game), but they still have road games against Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech and N.C. State, plus a tricky home matchup with North Carolina. A lot of opportunities for league losses there. FSU's schedule is much more manageable. The Seminoles can lose today and still make the title game.

Q: Who wins this week's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire?

A: Jeff Gordon. He'll bounce back from last week's fuel-mileage woes to get his fourth career victory at the track.

Q: Aren't your NASCAR picks historically terrible?

A: Yes. But I'd like to note that Kevin Harvick is now the Vegas favorite to win the Chase at odds of 7-to-2. He was 7-to-1 before the Chase started -- when I advised you to take him.

Q: Manny Ramirez says he was "not prepared for retirement" and wants to come back. Will we see him in a major league uniform again?

A: No. We've seen plenty of "washed-up star" signings over the years, but never one who has to serve a 100-game suspension before he can even get on the field. Besides, Manny already redeemed his last-ditch-signing coupon in Tampa Bay.

Q: Blog comment of the week?

A: Well, there was a lot of good back-and-forth on the conference expansion issue. But that topic has become exhausting. Let's go with a good ol' fashioned Commonwealth jab from Hokie24: "Don't UVa fans realize that when they bash VT's 'cupcake' schedule, that the Wahoos are the prettiest orange and blue cupcake in the bunch?"

Q: Like the passion. But do you think Morgantown would be doing this furniture abatement program if WVU were playing Arkansas State this week?

A: Hmm. Good point.

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