WVU Back In National Spotlight

West Virginia University released a video on Tuesday called "Big things are coming." It packed a bunch of highlights from last season into a fast-paced video that previewed the Mountaineers' entrance into the Big 12 Conference.

There was Tavon Austin running down the field for a touchdown, fans dressed in gold and waiving towels and Orange Bowl highlights.

It's the type of thing that can get your blood pumping a bit faster in preparation for Saturday's Gold-Blue Spring Game and for the 2012 season.

If there was any doubt (notice I didn't say "Leave no doubt.") that the West Virginia football team is back in the national spotlight, all you had to do was be around spring football this year.

It seemed like the last two weeks of practice were dominated by appearances of the top dogs at ESPN.

Big 12 blogger for ESPN David Ubben came to practice last week and sat through – and wrote about – all of it. He talked about the arm strength of starting quarterback Geno Smith and the bevy of playmakers the Mountaineers have on offense.

Ubben saw the PRT, experienced a pepperoni roll and the interesting and unpredictable Morgantown weather. He was interviewed on the radio and for T.V. broadcasts before heading back to more traditional Big 12 country.

A week later, a bus decked out in ESPN logos parked itself outside of Milan Puskar Stadium. Photos were posted all over Twitter from some that the bus had come.

ESPN personalities interviewed coaches and players on Tuesday prior to practice at the football stadium to get the scoop on the Mountaineers, as well.

At practice, ESPN reporter Joe Schad even was given a Red Bull by head coach Dana Holgorsen. Fellow ESPN personality Jesse Palmer walked around in a WVU t-shirt.

Everybody wants to know about West Virginia. It's been a while since I could accurately write that.

Everywhere you look these days, it seems as if the Mountaineers are making headlines – and it's not just about casino incidents and coaching changes.

The Orange Bowl did exactly what WVU had hoped (and for that matter, Athletic Director Oliver Luck's coaching change did, too.). The Mountaineers went from a borderline top 25 team – and program – under former head coach Bill Stewart to one to be reckoned with again under Holgorsen.

There's hype heading into 2012 – the type that really isn't forced upon people. No, this anticipation is real.

The days of the Big East – where bloggers at ESPN were treated like bloggers anywhere and buses were treated like regular automobiles – are gone. This is a top 10 team in a big-time conference.

Things are going to be different. Maybe ESPN will treat the Mountaineers differently for those of you who think there's a negative bias (There isn't). It's all up in the air at this point, because it's just spring practice, but if there's one thing to take out of these last few weeks, it's that this program is back (or that ESPN wants it to be back).

There haven't been many headlines and storylines from practice. There's really only so many things the media can write about after watching 10 minutes of stretching and 15-20 minutes of individual drills.

But, we can sense the overall mood and relevance in the national media.

There are expectations in this Big 12. It's going to be nothing like it was in the Big East.

Media will be watching and noting the successes and failures, and if the Mountaineers can have enough successes, they might bring even more bloggers and buses to town.


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