The initial Big 12 Conference rankings for the upcoming football season have been released on the league's website and the Mountaineers from West Virginia University have been relegated to the very bottom of the 10-team league.
But, before fans of the old gold and blue begin to light up every website connected with WVU's newest home, the list was arranged alphabetically-starting with Baylor and ending with WVU.
For the most part, West Virginia is getting the kind of national notice one would expect from a team that finished ranked in the Top 25 with a 10-3 mark and coming off of a 70-point outburst against a Clemson defense that some had pitching a shutout against the Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl.
The latest publication to have WVU listed among its Top 25 programs heading into the season is the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook's Preseason Top 25. Southern California is the publication's pick to win the national championship while the Mountaineers come in No. 11-three places behind fellow Big 12 member Oklahoma and two places ahead of Oklahoma State.
WVU, led by preseason All-Big 12 picks Tavon Austin (WR & PR) and Joe Madsen (C), is picked to finish second to the Sooners, who will make their first-ever visit to Morgantown on Saturday, Nov. 17. OSU is picked to finish third in the Blue Ribbon Forecast of the Big 12 Conference followed by TCU, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas.
Don't misunderstand me, I love all of this preseason hype the old gold and blue is receiving. But, there remains that little voice in the back of my brain that reminds me of past years when WVU went through a summer of media-driven hype only to come up short when the team took to the gridiron for real.
Being the underdog has its advantages. What does Marshall, James Madison or even Maryland have to lose when they take on the Mountaineers? All are going to be huge underdogs to an offense that has two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Geno Smith and Austin.
I've always respected coaches who displayed the talent to keep their players both humble and hungry despite dealing with story after story praising their abilities before a single run, pass, catch, block, tackle, kick, interception or fumble recovery has occurred.
Second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen is apparently taking that approach as he is constantly reminding anyone who will listen that his first Mountaineer squad struggled to a 9-3 regular season mark and needed a Cincinnati win over Louisville on the final weekend to wrap up the Big East's automatic BCS berth in the Orange Bowl.
It's the kind of approach that could very well pay dividends as WVU looks to perform on a 'national' stage-the Big 12-compared to playing in a Big East Conference that lost so much credibility that it was relegated to one of the 'minor' conferences when the most recent playoff format was released. Hype is nice, but it doesn't win games.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com