Any season, of course, is a journey into the unknown, a venture down a highway that is fraught with potholes and detours, but the trip West Virginia University’s football team is about to embark upon today with the opening of camp is one filled with mystery and intrigue like no other.
On the surface, coming off a 70-33 thrashing of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, one would think the Mountaineers are primed for a spectacular year, but there always is the shadow of Big East losses to Louisville and Syracuse from last year that leaves you wondering just which is the real WVU team.
As Dana Holgorsen’s second team begins its month-long preseason preparations, five questions loom large as you try to analyze exactly where they stand.
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Question No. 1: Are the Mountaineers good enough to withstand the weekly challenge of the Big 12, a conference acknowledged as far superior to the Big East conference, which they won last year?
Answer: The one certainty about joining the Big 12 is that it is a big step up from the Big East, and face it — despite the gaudy 70-33 Orange Bowl victory, the Mountaineers did not dominate the Big East.
WVU lost games to Louisville and Syracuse last year in the conference, unsavory losses that leave all kinds of questions about how they will stack up against the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and Kansas State in the Big 12.
This is a conference that produces national champions, Heisman Trophy winners, Biletnikoff Award winners. It is a football conference that plays basketball, not a basketball conference that plays football like the Big East was.
The coaching fraternity is deep and proven, meaning a relatively young coach in Holgorsen has to match wits with Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Charlie Weis, Tommy Tuberville and Mike Gundy game after game.