It never fails.
Let your favorite college football team lose and the Internet message boards go crazy with theories explaining how one coach only won because of another coach's recruiting efforts while another group uses the opposite-this coach lost because he was stuck with another's recruits-to explain away the disappointments of the season.
Such is the case surrounding West Virginia University.
So much preseason hype combined with a 5-0 start had fans dreaming of a Big 12 title, as well as National Championship tickets. Then came the five-game skid that brought us all back down to earth, the two-game winning streak that got the Mountaineers a berth in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and the inevitable no-show effort in Saturday's 38-14 loss to Syracuse.
While head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff should bear the lion's share of the blame, it would be unfair to place all of the woes of this year's 7-6 finish at their feet when they were asked to win with players that they may, or may not have, recruited.
The most telling interview I ever have had was with former WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez following his first season at the helm of his alma mater. West Virginia had just completed a 3-8 season (1-6 in the Big East), but waht was not known was the first year head coach had only 58 of a possible 85 scholarship players on the roster and that nearly half of those were walk-ons that had been awarded scholarships by the previous coaching staff.
Holgorsen and his staff may not have had to deal with those kind of numbers, but a quick look at the Mountaineers past recruiting classes does tell a story worth hearing.
Eight players, including Parkersburg's Josh Jenkins, were members of the Class of 2008 and were competing as fifth-year seniors. The Class of 2009, which would have made up this year's senior class, included Tavon Austin, Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Shawne Alston -players who made significant impacts during their four years in Morgantown.
But, that class also included the No. 2 fullback (Chris Snook), the No. 8 wide receiver (Logan Heastie), the No. 15 wideout (Deon Long) and the No. 22 strong side linebacker (Branko Busick) as well as a handful of 4-star athletes like junior college defensive end Tevita Finau and No. 21 defensive end Dominik Davenport.
None could be found roaming the field at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, however. In fact, half of a class that included 26 players were not on the active roster for the game against the Orange.
And it doesn't end there.
Only nine of the 21 players in the Class of 2010 remain on the Mountaineers' roster while 17 of the 22 members of the Class of 2011 still are with the program.
Making those numbers worse is the fact that a program can sign up to 25 recruits per year.
While other programs were stockpiling depth,
WVU's coaching staffs were stockpiling unused scholarships.
Holgorsen and his staff made the most of those unused scholarships to bring in 25 out of 29 members of the Class of 2012. But, that number has already dwindled with the departure of Travares Copeland and Torry Clayton and its two biggest catches-middle linebacker Sam Lebbie and wide receiver Deontay McManus-have never made it onto the campus.
Now the staff is faced with replacing 21 seniors as well as several other holes caused by the team's lack of depth. Holgorsen has elected to go the junior college rout to answer some of the Mountaineers more immediate problems and has signed four to National Letters of Intent already.
Fans should expect to see more as well as some high school talent that will elect to come to Morgantown in January when classes begin. But, will that be enough? Only time will tell.