The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
“Just win baby!” the words of former Oakland Raider owner Al Davis. To him and so many others winning the game was all that mattered. It really didn’t matter how you got the job done as long as the notch went into the column on the left hand side. The victory had to be obtained at all cost because at the end of the day that is what your success would be measured by. The “W” at West Virginia University used to mean the same thing to Mountaineer Nation until the bar was somehow raised.
Prior to this football season the football team and Head Coach Dana Holgorsen found themselves in a precarious situation. The past few seasons hadn’t produced the fruit that the faithful was hoping for, and that alone brought enough preseason stress to wreck most teams before they could find the gridiron. Give credit to Holgorsen for rallying the troops ad pulling his squad together. Their collective efforts have made the program bowl eligible for the first time since that magical thumping of Clemson in 2011.
The Mountaineers have beaten every team that they were expected to with the only possible exception being Texas (which is still a difficult place to play and the Longhorns appear to be on the upswing). Even the losses were respectable and in most cases they had legitimate opportunities to win which is extremely impressive considering their strength of schedule. The Mounties grappled with a pair of top 5’s, a top 10, and a grand total of seven teams that were located in the top 25.
With all of that said there are those saying that it just hasn’t been enough. Holgorsen has undoubtedly turned in his most impressive effort since taking over the ship. This year’s edition is the most well rounded that we have seen and the reputation – well it’s back and nobody wants to come to Morgantown to play. The fear is indeed back in the hearts of opponents and fellow Big 12 teams are starting to respect WVU for the first time since the old gold and blue joined the league.
The last chapter of this team won’t be written until after the bowl game as we all know it’s not how you start but rather how you finish that makes or breaks a season. Regardless of what happens down the stretch for this group, the overall product has to be viewed as an upgrade and the status on Holgorsen has to be bumped to at least safe for now.
Moving on to the round ball we find a similar dilemma for Bob Huggins. His team picked up a pair of early wins over lesser competition in Monmouth and Lafayette. Despite the fact that those victories were less than pretty and the margin of victory wasn’t what the fan base desired they were still wins nonetheless. With several new faces in uniform this year’s edition will need to learn how to play together in order to click on all cylinders. If the Mounties can continue to win while gnawing through growing pains well, that’s just icing on the cake. Another factor is that teams tend to play to the level of competition and so far it’s been down. Look for this group to play its best ball against top competition. A win is indeed a win and that is all that can be asked of a team.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!