I've watched a lot of football. I've watched a lot of WVU football. I've seen blowouts, upsets, great wins, terrible wins, good games, bad games, and everything in between. I've seen WVU manhandle teams that were supposed to be so much better than us that no amount of reason could even possibly suggest that we would win in any alternate reality. I've seen a 28 point favorite score 9 points at home...at night...
This weekend, I watched something I hadn't seen. I saw 56 points scored in a half, by one of the best offenses I've ever witnessed. EVER. Remember that game we played against Clemson a couple years ago where everything clicked and we scored 70? That was fun. Now we know how Clemson felt. Actually, we don't because 56 points in a half is unheard of for anyone, let alone WVU. Baylor simply couldn't miss. They couldn't NOT score. Everything they threw was perfect and everything they caught stuck to their gloves. In fact, I want every glove from that game tested for Stick 'em.
The Maryland game this year was the polar opposite of this game. We handed them turnovers and points to go along with them. Nothing was handed to Baylor this weekend except miles and miles of open turf. Heck, we even had a bounce or two go our way with a muffed punt (that looked suspiciously like Carswell back there for Baylor didn't it?) and a couple interceptions. It didn't matter in the end, because Baylor simply outmatched us to the man. It's hard to complain about that.
But this is WVU. Mountaineer fans are some of the most ardent fans in the country. We're also a fickle bunch. It's painful writing that because WVU fans are also some of the best people I could ever hope to encounter. It's also painful because it mires us in a reputation of narrow-mindedness that so many have fought to escape. It's painful because, for a state that prides itself on blue-collar, hard-working, tough-nosed people, some fans are a bunch of Chicken Littles. These fans become the vocal minority after losses like this and it lumps the steadfast WVU fans in with the rest of the Cowardly Lions.
I understand the despair, because losing isn't something we've been used to for the past decade, let alone in the fashion we witnessed Saturday. I understand that feeling of "there's no way we should have been beat like that." What I don't understand, is that these same fans are the ones who said all off-season that this year was a rebuilding year and that we'd be lucky to make a bowl game. Now we're shocked that WVU isn't running the table in one of the best conferences in the country. Now, some fans want Dana Holgorsen fired. Now, Pat White wants Dana Holgorsen fired (and he suggests Lane Kiffin is available) and we all know how good of an eye he has for head coaches. Now, some people are even clamoring for Rich Rod to come back and "save the program." The same program he left in the middle of the night to coach at Michigan. I guess people forget the year he led us to a loss against the mighty Temple Owls.
Some WVU fans have awfully short memories. Remember the coach we hung in effigy outside of his home? He went on to be a pretty good one at Florida State if I remember correctly. Remember the coach who would have done anything for his school and the state and went 9-3 each season he coached but was blasted consistently for "squinting too much" and "ruining the program" before he was replaced by the current coach. This job essentially killed him, and WVU fans treated him like dirt when he didn't live up to our own lofty expectations. Bill Stewart was one of our own...and we turned on him.
For as much as WVU fans proclaim that we are a hard-working, blue-collar, roll your sleeves up bunch of people, we sure don't handle adversity on the football field well. In fact, a segment of our fanbase is calling for Dana's head on a spike. Before anyone thinks to deliver this, let's consider the following:
WVU lost 9 of 11 offensive starters after last year.
WVU had the 113th ranked Defense Last season (there are 120 teams total)
WVU had the worst passing defense in the country last year.
WVU is no longer playing Temple, Rutgers, UConn, South Florida etc. We're in the Big 12.
This was never going to be an easy season. We hadn't anointed the next Steve Slaton/Noel Devine/Tavon Austin/Stedman Bailey/Geno Smith prior to the start of the season. We are the land of misfit toys on offense. We are much better on defense than could have been expected. Yet we want someone held accountable for the 73 points Baylor scored. "Fire Dana, bring back Rich Rod."
Let's all take a deep breath, step back from the ledge, and take this season for what it is: a rebuilding year. Personally, I'll take 73-42 over 13-9 any day of the week. I'd take sideline squinting and losses to Colorado over a midnight plane ride out of town. I have more pride than to beg someone who left this program in its darkest hour to come back. I have more pride than to give up on a coach who has been here for 3 years and lacks the personnel on the field to properly run his system. I have more pride than to worry that the sky is falling or that WVU will become obscure in the Big 12. I have more pride than that because I'm a Mountaineer. Thank God I'm a Mountaineer.