Coach Dana Holgorsen confirmed West Virginia will play the Pinstripe Bowl without senior center Joe Madsen, who is academically ineligible.
“It’s disappointing that he didn’t take care of business,” Holgorsen said. “The expectation for our guys is to go to class, to get good grades, and leave West Virginia with a good quality education and a degree. Joey fell short of that, and we’re disappointed that he did.”
Quarterback Geno Smith said he talked with Madsen after the team learned last week the center would not be making the trip to New York.
“Joey is Joey. He understands that he let the team down,” Smith said. “He’s also let himself down and his family down, so that’s enough for me. I don’t want to get on the guy.”
While Holgorsen declined to say who would replace Madsen, Smith spoke openly about guard Jeff Braun transitioning to center — and making crucial presnap blocking calls against Syracuse’s erratic blitz schemes.
“I just think it’s about me making sure that Braun is ready and he’s set,” Smith said. “That shouldn’t be a problem because Braun’s a veteran and he’s played the position.”
Braun’s shift to center likely would open up playing time for Pat Eger at right guard. WVU’s other option is to leave Braun at guard and leave the center position to Madsen’s depth-chart backup, senior John Bassler.
Madsen, the team’s active leader with 50 career starts, was one of nine Mountaineers who graduated Dec. 9, according to the WVU sports information department.
In 2010 Madsen was among three West Virginia players ruled ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl.
The Mountaineers (7-5) face Syracuse (7-5) on Saturday at 3:15 p.m.