The decision by WVU quarterback Jarret Doege to enter the transfer portal ends what has been an unsettling period for Mountaineer football.
Doege was never fully embraced by Mountaineer Nation. For many, he was simply the guy who was playing the position in lieu of somebody else. This season the fan club of back-up quarterback Garrett Greene grew every time Doege made a misstep.
All players have limitations, but the quarterback position highlights them with laser focus. Doege was not mobile. He was frequently off target on long passes. His interceptions seemed to come at the most inopportune times. He sometimes held the ball too long.
Yet, his statistics continually placed him near the very top of the league.
Doege finished this past season ranked second in passing in the Big 12, behind only Iowa State’s Brock Purdy. On the downside, he threw 12 interceptions, tied with Spencer Sanders for the most in the league, but he also threw 20 touchdown passes, third most in the conference.
But in sports it’s easy to be a prisoner of the moment, and Mountaineer Nation was left with Doege’s—and the entire offense’s—poor performance in the bowl loss to Minnesota.
In the Covid-shortened 2020 season, Doege was also the second highest ranked quarterback in the league, behind Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. But he is perhaps best remembered that year for a poor performance in the bowl game that led to Coach Neal Brown pulling him for Austin Kendall.
But football is, after all, a team sport. The trick is try to get 11 skilled individuals operating in unison. A closer inspection of this year’s team shows that often Doege did not have the help he needed to be successful.
He seemed to be under constant pressure. Receivers struggled to get open. At times, the run game failed to give the Mountaineer offense a dual threat. Doege took an immense amount of physical punishment. His toughness is unquestioned.
Through it all, even when some fans became chippy and directed boos his way, even when social media posts lambasted him, Doege handled himself with dignity. The announcement of his departure was graceful and classy.
“I will forever be grateful for the friendships and memories I’ve made at WVU over the past three years,” Doege wrote. “Thank you to the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream of mine. West Virginia will always have a special place in my heart.”
To me, that sounds like the embodiment of the Mountaineer Spirit.
The legendary NFL Coach Paul Brown said, “The test of a quarterback is where his team finishes.” Fair enough. The quarterback is the most important position, so he will shoulder the weight of the losses as well as the glory of the victories.
By that metric, Doege’s legacy will always be marginalized. But sport, especially at the collegiate level, is also about effort, dedication, toughness and personal character, including how one responds under immense pressure.
And by those standards, Jarret Doege was a winner.