All I want is one you say. One before I die. All I want for Christmas is to see my favorite team hoist a trophy above their heads proclaiming that they are the best team in the land. I keep reading this same mantra online, over and over and over again. What I have to wonder, “Why is this single mantra the only thing that we talk about?”
Is it the words of former athletic director Oliver Luck who fired Bill Stewart because nine wins in the downtrodden Big East weren’t enough? If so, why weren’t we of the mentality before? The words of Oliver Luck were true then. With the leadership we had in 2010, we were not going to be winning national titles.
Is this mentality of “national title or bust” because the new, current model of college football has reduced all but three postseason football games to nothing more than a preseason spectacle for the next upcoming season? All throughout the college football season, the question wasn’t how good teams were, but whether or not they were “Playoff” teams. If a team wasn’t a playoff team, because of non-conference opponents, strength of schedule, a bad loss or any other factor, they fell to wayside. This reduced the amount of teams being talked about to one or two hands very early in the season.
Is it because one magical run in 2007 ended so badly that an entire state has never recovered? Probably the second closest to this school has ever been to a national title coincided with the single most chaotic season in the last 50 years of college football. That season, had a normal season of chaos entailed, would we have been so close? Had we played in a conference that didn’t include UConn and Cincinnati as the best teams, would the team have even been in contention?
I can’t recall during any of my teen years or during my time at West Virginia, or even immediately after, which spans nearly 15+years from the mid 1990s until 2010, ever hearing fans gripe about not being a national title contender. Somehow, especially now, we are expected that one national title is the expectation.
Given the history of this program, I can tell you that at some point in time, whether its next year, next decade or in 50 years, the stars will align and West Virginia will field a team that is capable of winning the national title. Just because those stars didn’t perfectly align this year doesn’t mean the team was a failure nor does it mean you are wrong in wanting to demand the ultimate prize, but it does mean it shouldn’t be our only focus.
While we all wait for that long-awaited, the elusive national title, don’t lose focus of the short team goals. Recruiting is better. No surprises are good for a team like West Virginia. Player development is better. More and more players are being drafted into the NFL. Facilities are being improved and the coach and athletic director share a common goal with facilities. Assistant coaches are paid well enough to continue to the most important job: recruit players.
Keep the expectation that the school should be playing for a national title. Keep those aspirations high and demand that the school meet your expectations but don’t lose focus on the things that get you to that point. Rome wasn’t built in a day and one national title won’t just occur because we want it to. Winning a national title at West Virginia will occur one day but it will take many factors. Until it does, enjoy the process.