From the Cheap Seats: Mountaineer Reality - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From the Cheap Seats: Mountaineer Reality

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Since its inception, West Virginia has been an underdog state. Our basketball and football teams have adopted that mindset, often to a fault. For years, the Mountaineers have been famous for playing well against top-flight opponents, but coming out flat against lesser ones. Taking the underdog role is great when your native son coach turns his back on you and you're facing a team that, on paper, should wipe the field with you, or when you're matched up against the nation's sixth-ranked squad that boasts two potential NBA lottery picks. It's not great when your opponent is inferior and you wait until they back you into a corner and you feel like that underdog again, before you start to really compete. The ‘Eers let these kinds of teams, that they should roll over from the start, stay in the game, very seldom putting out a complete effort.

This is a perception that many Mountaineer fans, myself included, have. But is it reality? Let's look at this year's football season to see how many full games WVU put together:

Game 1: 34-13 win over Marshall. The Mountaineers were certainly not the underdog in this game. Mother Nature kept a full game from being played, and probably another WVU score or two from happening. As lightning put an end to it, the Mountaineers seemed to have complete control, but it took them awhile to get to that point.

Game 2: 55-12 win over Norfolk State. Looking at the score, you'd think this game was the perfect example of a BCS team trouncing a cupcake. The problem is that the Mountaineers didn't show up in the first half.

Game 3: 37-31 win over Maryland. In a reversal from week 2, the Mountaineers got off to a fast start against the Terps, but barely held on in the fourth quarter.

Game 4: 47-21 loss to LSU. It was WVU's Super Bowl, so of course, save for a couple of lapses, they had a decent showing, putting up more yards on the top team than anyone else this season.

Game 5: 55-10 win over Bowling Green. This was one of the exceptions. Behind Dustin Garrison's rushing performance, WVU had control of this one from start to finish. The only issue was that there weren't many fans in the stands to see it.

Game 6: 43-16 win over UCONN. Another game where the final score looks good, but it was the second half before the Mountaineers got it going.

Game 7: 49-23 loss to Syracuse. The ‘Eers never stood a chance against this 5-7 team.

Game 8: 41-31 win at Rutgers. It was a gutsy win, but it certainly wasn't pretty.

Game 9: 38-35 loss, at home, to Louisville. They let the Cardinals hang around and ended up with a loss.

Game 10: 24-21 win at Cincinnati. It was a big win, but required a last second blocked field goal to hang on to it.

Game 11: 21-20 win over Pitt. A nice way to end what could be the last Backyard Brawl for a while, but again, not pretty.

Game 12: 30-27 win at South Florida. A good way to end the regular season, but yet again, not pretty.

Without going through the same game by game breakdown for basketball, their young season can be quickly summed up. WVU has a couple of good wins over Kansas State and Miami, but the Akron game is the only contest where fans saw a start-to-finish effort.

This year, at least, it looks like perception is reality. With a new football coach and seven freshmen on the basketball squad, you could easily explain the inconsistencies, but I think if we went through the same exercise for any season over the past decade, we'd get a similar result. So what causes it? Your first thought might be the coaches, but between the two sports, we've had 5 very different leaders in recent years, with similar results.

Is it just that many of us Mountaineer fans are just too close to the situation and don't realize that the majority of other programs out there go through the same things? Does it boil down to the fact that there are very few schools that can consistently put together the right combination of recruiting, coaching, fan support and luck?

When asked if there was anything positive he could take out of the loss to Baylor, Coach Huggins replied, "If West Virginia ever was happy with moral victories, we're way past that." As a fan, you love having a head coach who thinks and talks that way. You know that's Huggs' reality. Let's hope it becomes reality for the rest of Mountaineer Nation.

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