Commentary-WVU Getting Great Respect in Big 12

The WVU football team can’t say it isn’t getting any respect from its new league. This isn’t like the situation facing Missouri and Texas A & M heading into the SEC. 

Now, there is no reason to think that the WVU football team is going to have to creep sheepishly into the Big 12 with the proverbial hat in hand.

According to the pre-season experts, the Mountaineers are expected to roar into the new league with guns…err musket…blazing. 

In the Big 12 media pre-season poll, the Mountaineers were picked 2nd in the Big 12 standings, not far behind the number one pick Oklahoma.  The Sooners totaled 396 points while the Mountaineers totaled 339. Texas was picked third with 291 points. 

In addition, Mountaineer senior quarterback Geno Smith was picked as the pre-season Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Last year, the media pick for this award was Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon who ended up being the 6th pick of the NFL draft. 

In our state, we often tend to undersell ourselves. We almost have a negative fatalistic attitude about the ability of our favorite sports teams to win a big game. I have long thought it is an Appalachia mindset to be that way and it  drives me crazy.  

I am sure at next week’s Big 12 media days we will hear many in our media ask questions such as "What do your fans thinks of West Virginia?"  It is one way of dragging a compliment out of a potential guest. 

We should no longer need that pat on the back. The voting of West Virginia into the second spot in the Big 12 pre-season poll means we don’t have to worry about what others in the Big 12 think of WVU.  We already know the answer.

Yes, they like the Mountaineers. Yes, they respect the Mountaineer program, brand and fan base. If they didn’t they would not have invited WVU to join the conference. 

It is clear that, for this first season, the outside expectations are high for the WVU football team. The Mountaineers are not only expected to compete in the league, they are expected to have a great shot to win the league championship.  

However, even with the lofty pre-season expectations, there is one major concern. Somewhere there is a pessimist bemoaning the second place pick, muttering, "Oh no, that is the worst thing they could do to us. Expectations will be so high, we can’t possibly live up to them."   

Relax.  Let the talk and excitement of the Big 12 begin. For Mountaineer fans the excitement of a new league got a little more exciting in the Big 12 pre-season poll.   

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