If attitude is everything, then this year's Mountaineer football team should be much improved. And although that's a simplistic answer, we do think that the building blocks have been laid for a more harmonious relationship between the players and coaches.
First off, it should be noted that the coaches were not the ogres they were made out to be in some quarters last season. Like many other things in the popular media, the "get tough" approach was quickly seized on and played out to the hilt, which made last year's situation seem worse than it was.
Admittedly, there were some problems in relationships between the players and the staff, and to their creadit, the coaches recognized that as they evaluated last year's disappointing results. Therefore, the coaching staff made a concerted effort to relate to the players on a more personal level over the winter, and it seemed to take. Spring practice was as enthusiastic as can be expected, and almost to a man the players noted that the atmosphere surrounding the camp was much improved.
As always, however, the answering of one question always seems to give rise to a couple more. In this instance, how much can the attitude of the team improve their performance?
We're not sure of the answer to that question, but we do know that if a team is not together, it's going to perform below expectations. That's true in all walks of life, not just athletics.
Team unity, and good relationships between players and coaches, are a necessary building block to a successful season. Simply having one in place doesn't guarantee more wins, but it certainly helps a team achieve to the level of their talent and ability. We think that will happen in 2002.