Big 12 Media Day Has Different Feeling for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Big 12 Media Day Has Different Feeling for WVU

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DALLAS -

A year ago, the Big 12 media days featured two new programs as West Virginia University and Texas Christian University joined the conference and kicked off the season with a series of chats with the gathered media and other team representatives.

The intrigue with WVU, though, extended beyond just the four players seated before the cameras. Reporters, and surely other teams, wanted to know about the university itself. They wanted some idea of the state that produced the program that would be traveling so many hundreds of miles to reach their new conference foes on the road.

What was West Virginia all about, they wondered, and who was this Mountaineer who went around as an ambassador for his school while the rest of the league's mascots could only make animated gestures on their team's behalf?

Members of the surrounding media sought out interviews with those who had covered WVU sports for years and knew the ins and outs of Morgantown's operations. People wanted to know anything from what to expect from Dana Holgorsen's second season as head coach and the Xs and Os to where they should eat when they visit the downtown campus in the fall.

All of it was new, to both sides of the equation. Many who had booked flights westward to reach Dallas from West Virginia were equally curious about the teams and the regions they were preparing to visit once the conference schedule began.

It played out more like a welcome party than the annual reunion of the Big East clambake in Rhode Island that defined previous years.

That was a year ago, though. Those were the initial pleasantries exchanged between a team picked to finish second in its new home and those that planned to give it an unpleasant introduction. And they did, it just waited until the games played out on the field, not in those exchanges at the Omni Dallas.

With the Mountaineers flying out of the gate and pushing to 5-0 before collapsing to a limp across the finish line, the new member lost all of its luster. Not nearly as much thought will be paid to this team in its sophomore campaign with the Big 12 when the 2012 bang ultimately fizzled, a premature ending to the proverbial honeymoon.

These Mountaineers have something to prove. They seek now the respect that seemed to be given quite readily a year ago and they will not be able to gain it with their time behind a microphone on Tuesday.

Senior defensive end Will Clarke, sophomore safety Karl Joseph and junior offensive tackle Quinton Spain can only do so much to convince anyone listening that a lesson has been learned from a single year in the Big 12. They could talk all they want, but getting anyone to believe that one of the nation's worst defenses will improve or that a largely inexperienced offense will replace the pieces it lost in the offseason is a major task.

In truth, WVU will be just one of 10 teams in the Big 12 and many more across the nation that will be spending its time speaking in uncertainties as what ifs come at them from the gathered media that wants nothing more than to spark a quote that will push more readers or viewers to its publication.

West Virginia's players may not want to jump at those opportunities to sell their coaches and teammates as something more than what others have painted them to be.

In speaking with some of the senior-most members of this offense and defense, they seem enamored with the idea of being the underdog. They have embraced a "shock the world" mentality that they thrived on just two years ago with the Orange Bowl victory that propelled them into a conference favorite as rookies in the Big 12.

It may be due to the fact that they have no other choice. Picked eighth in the preseason voting with zero players on the all-Big 12 teams, West Virginia is looking up at each of its goals this year and real success may be met with more shock than understanding.

This is WVU's chance to prove that it belongs and will not just fade into the bottom of a league that far surpasses its previous one on the football field. The talk on Tuesday won't matter. The actions starting Aug. 31 are all that counts. Last season made that perfectly clear. 

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