Expectations are wonderful.
If they are high, as in the case with this year's West Virginia University football, they can lead dreams of undefeated seasons, Big East titles, and-dare I say it-thoughts of a national championship.
That's the case around the Mountain State this spring as publication after publication comes out with its preseason Top 25 list and the old gold and blue can be found among the vast majority of them.
The last time WVU headed into a summer with this much preseason hype it ended up losing its head coach following a heart-breaking loss to arch rival Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl that kept the Mountaineers from playing for the BCS crown.
What makes the expectations somewhat hard to understand is the fact that WVU will enter 2011 without its leading rusher, leading receiver and most of a starting defense that ranked among the nation's elite.
Despite the loss of Noel Devine, Jock Sanders and four players that will be attempting to make an NFL rosters when, if ever, the lockout is ended, prognosticators around the country are predicting a banner year for the team from Morgantown.
Why? One name comes up every time-newly-hired offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Dana Holgorsen.
His exploits at Oklahoma State and Houston had made him the most-sought-after assistant in the country and WVU's inability to score more that 25 points per game made his coming to the Morgantown a match-made-in-heaven.
The spring game gave fans a glimpse of what they hope to see every Saturday (or Thursday or Friday or Sunday). It featured a wide-open attack with a coordinator who seemed more-than-ready to throw in a trick play or two and one who is sold on throwing the ball down the field despite having a receiving corps that is not exactly filled with playmakers.
Still, junior quarterback Geno Smith looked at home in the new offense and even freshmen backups Paul Millard and Brian Athey appeared as if they had grasped enough of the scheme to make them solid replacements if the need becomes necessary.
It also featured a young, aggressive defense that should get better under the tutelage of veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
It wasn't that long ago when fans questioned whether or not Casteel's unique 3-3-5 alignment would ever lead WVU to a Big East title or, for that matter, turned the Mountaineers' prevent unit into one of the elite programs in the country.
But, year after year, Casteel and his assistants plug in new face after new face into their one-of-a-kind attack and every year West Virginia's foes find the going is tough, especially when the defense is filled with speed, aggressiveness and physicality.
Maybe, just maybe, all the talk isn't just hype.
With preseason ticket sales reaching near-record levels, it appears that the Mountaineer Nation has bought into the talk.
Personally, I think I'll wait awhile before I drink the Kool-Aid.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org