Big 12 football: WVU receiver McCartney leaves program
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- For the second time in as many weeks, a West Virginia receiver with recent starting experience has left the team.
Ivan McCartney, once a high school All-American at Miramar (Fla.) High, is no longer part of the program. The Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) confirmed the news in a brief press release Monday with Coach Dana Holgorsen declining comment.
The junior caught nine passes for 112 yards this season with three receptions and 26 yards coming in against Kansas State. McCartney then impressed coaches in subsequent practices and was the starter in place of Stedman Bailey against TCU. McCartney didn't travel to Saturday's loss to Oklahoma State.
As a sophomore, he caught 49 passes for 585 yards and three scores, including a career day with six receptions for 131 yards against Connecticut. In the seven games that followed, McCartney caught only 15 passes for 140 yards.
Last week, freshman Travares Copeland decided to leave WVU for personal reasons. He broke his redshirt against Texas Tech and started against Kansas State, but came off the bench against TCU.
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THE MOUNTAINEERS did get some good news about their receivers Monday. Both Bailey and Tavon Austin were named semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation's top receiver. They're the only teammates on the 10-player list.
Bailey, a redshirt junior, leads the nation with 16 touchdown receptions. He's caught 75 passes for 1,055 yards. Despite struggling with an ankle injury that limited him to 12 receptions for 120 yards over three games, Bailey is third nationally with 117.22 receiving yards per game.
Semifinalist Terrance Williams, of Baylor, leads the nation with 159 yards per game.
Austin, a senior, leads the nation with 10.67 receptions per game. Only Southern Cal's Marqise Lee, another semifinalist, averages more than nine per game. Austin has 95 receptions for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns.
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ALABAMA'S LOSS to Texas A&M led to a change atop the BCS ratings, but nothing has changed with new No. 1 Kansas State. The Wildcats are second to Oregon in the polls, but the top-ranked team in the BCS for the first time ever.
"We're honored and pleased, but the day hasn't been any different and yesterday wasn't any different either," Coach Bill Snyder said on Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "That's not what you expect me to say, but we're not paying a lot of attention it."
Snyder, deeply committed to what he calls the program's "intrinsic values," knows it isn't easy these days. He nevertheless trusts his players to remain disciplined and continue doing what they've done in the 10-0 start.
"They have all their iPads and they get into that stuff and I understand I can't keep them from that, but it's not my intent to keep them from it," he said. "My intent, which has been the same since Day One, is to get these young guys focused on the appropriate things and having the mindset that the important thing is meetings and practice and preparing for Baylor. It's not as though it's something that all of a sudden we have to reinforce."
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WVU HAS games remaining against Oklahoma Saturday, at Iowa State the day after Thanksgiving and against Kansas. Each opponent has very different goals to finish the season.
The 13th-ranked Sooners, who play the 7 p.m. Fox game at Mountaineer Field, had Big 12 and national championship aspirations. Losses to Kansas State and then Notre Dame altered both, but Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1) remains alive for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl either as the Big 12 champion or as the conference representative if the Wildcats play for the BCS title.
"There are a lot of scenarios in play for the end of the year and everyone wants to find out already, but let's face it: Everyone had Alabama already going undefeated," Sooners Coach Bob Stoops said. "A lot is going to happen in the next two or three weeks, so let's do our part to prepare for one game and keep improving our position."
Iowa State (5-5, 2-5) needs one win for bowl eligibility for the third time in four years with Coach Paul Rhoads. The team plays at Kansas and home against WVU to finish the schedule and get more than three conference wins for the first time with Rhoads.
"That's something we don't have to talk about," Rhoads sad. "The media likes to talk about six wins and bowl eligibility, but the team and the coaches, we don't need to. We can count."
Kansas (1-9, 0-7) has been increasingly competitive for a team that has lost 19 straight Big 12 games and 30 in a row against current Big 12 members. The Jayhawks, No. 2 in the conference and No. 21 nationally with 213.1 rushing yards per game, have only been out of one Big 12 game at the half and have lost games by six, four and seven points, the third a double-overtime loss Saturday at Texas Tech.
"I think for a team to be 1-9, I don't think they could be any more confident that they're going to turn the corner than they are," Coach Charlie Weis said. "That's their mentality and I give the guys a lot of credit because the staff has been able to keep guys focused every week and we really expect the guys to come out and give their best every week."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.