Writers like WVU
To think I was worried about West Virginia University's upcoming football season. Had I known 20 of the 24 media members who regularly cover the Big East football conference would vote West Virginia first in the Big East pre-season balloting, I could have relaxed.
Well, not really. First of all, worrying about WVU football is something I may well do in the near future, but it is still early for that, even for me. Worry probably isn't the correct word either. When pressed, I admit to having concerns.
I am certain Rich Rodriguez will put one of the best Mountaineer teams of all time on the field this fall. I am not worried about that. The concerns are whether this team can live up to its top five and national championship contender billing. I mean even if WVU loses a couple games and finishes out of the top 10, with the cast of characters the Mountaineers have on offense (White, Slaton, Schmitt, Reynaud) this team will be fun to watch.
It might be easier if WVU was just a little under the radar. That way the Mountaineers wouldn't be the big game on everyone's schedule. Of course the advantage of being so highly regarded at the beginning of the season is well documented. Getting to the national championship game is much easier if you start the season in the top 10 versus the second 10 or lower.
When I think about the upcoming season it is hard to get past the defense and three games from a year ago. The defense was on the field a lot last season. In losses to Louisville and South Florida the WVU defense allowed their opponents to control the ball at crucial times. In the overtime win against Rutgers the defense was porous too.
This season WVU has to go on the road at South Florida and Rutgers. Without a substantially improved defense, these will be very difficult games to win.
So, when the eastern sportswriters agree that West Virginia is the class of the conference I am even more skeptical. I just don't trust them. It is almost like they have some ulterior motive to set WVU up for the fall. Or, maybe they see where the Mountaineers return 18 starters and figure WVU really will be that good.