Time to take the temperature because I sense the blood is beginning to boil a little bit. Maybe it’s the heat and the doldrums from the dead of summer. Maybe it’s the slow acceptance of a certain reality. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know, but I want to know.
What bothers you more?
Is it that WVU is a 24-point underdog in a season-opening game in the Georgia Dome against Alabama … or that the Mountaineers are expected to kind of tank again and were picked as only the 78th best team in the country by a pretty respected voice who’s been kind to WVU in the past?
So this isn’t a Big 12 contender, but we knew that already. Instead, I see WVU as a borderline bowl team – not three-win bad, as some have suggested, but hovering somewhere between five and seven wins.
They speak to similar and different problems, of course. The similarities are easy, but the differences are what make this exercise.
The point spread seems to underline a chasm between WVU, as currently constituted, and Alabama, as constituted then, now and in the future. It suggests WVU can’t hang with a big-time program and lacks the proper armaments to make the argument that it can. It more or less implies the Mountaineers are back to where they were in the early 2000s, when it was a big deal to beat a non-conference team, never mind slap together a winning streak against the SEC. It’s not a state of the union sort of thing, but it’s not a a hollow indication, either. It’s filled with suggestions about where WVU is at this moment, and those things naturally encourage you to think about where WVU should be.
The ranking isn’t scientific, but it puts the Mountaineers in a certain neighborhood, and I hate to tell you this, but there’s a baby selling crack on that corner and a flake who keeps 35 cats in that house over there. I mean, there are 128 teams listed. WVU was the 50th. I’m not sure you would have been happy in recent years if WVU was ranked No. 50 overall and this is 50th from the bottom. That’s just above between Louisiana Tech (No. 80) and Buffalo (No. 79) and just below Troy (No. 77) and San Jose State (No. 76). This is not the company the Mountaineers want, need or intend to keep.
Again, it’s not reality. The reality is that it’s a starting point and nothing more, but there’s a certain reality attached to that, to say nothing of a perception that is really hard to shake. “It’s difficult to be overly optimistic,” it is written. “But let’s give optimism a try: West Virginia simply can’t be worse…” Put that on a poster, Matt Wells.
But we should remember this: In the moments it’s been best positioned and most capable of making history, WVU has been big on numbers as motivation. Which one draws your ire most?