The Richardson File

It's almost here. With fall football camp beginning in just a few short weeks, the dreaded "lull" period between the end of basketball season and the beginning of football season is coming to a merciful end. For Mountaineer fans, this football season has the potential to be one of the most exciting in the school's history.

National media outlets and preseason magazines have the Mountaineers high on their list of contenders for the BCS crown. The Mountaineers are even getting respect from the Vegas oddsmakers. Several online oddsmakers put West Virginia's chances of winning the national title behind only Notre Dame, Ohio State, and defending national champion Texas.

So what does all this hype mean? Very little in the grand scheme of things. It's nice to get recognition and all, but the Mountaineers haven't earned anything yet...nobody has. We're still a month and a half away from the ball being kicked to signal the start of games.

The biggest question about these Mountaineers, according to the "national experts", is how they will handle all the hype. I'm here to tell you that they could care less about the hype. Pundits point to the 2004 season when West Virginia was recieving considerable preseason praise only to finish 8-4 with three straight losses to end the season.

That team didn't lose games because of all the publicity surrounding the program. They lost games because they were out-executed on the field of play in the four losses. Did hype have anything to do with losing to eventual ACC Champion Virginia Tech that year? Did hype put on a Boston College uniform and beat the Mountaineers soundly in all three phases of that particular game? Absolutely not.

It all comes down to how the team performs on the field, not how national writers and talking heads feel. This year's Mountaineer team has the potential to be one of the greatest to ever take the field. Only time will tell whether or not they are.

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Switching gears now, the Big East Conference has announced the conference opponents for each team in the 2006-2007 campaign. West Virginia will be playing Cincinnati, Seton Hall, and Pitt twice each during the season, but will not play Louisville or Syracuse.

Some Mountaineer fans might be upset at the news that Pitino and Boeheim won't be matching wits with Coach Beilein and his staff this season, but in my opinion the Mountaineers have caught a good break from the league. Whereas Louisville and Syracuse both return a lot of experience, West Virginia does not. Neither does Cincinnati, which makes those two matchups between the teams intriguing.

When West Virginia and Seton Hall get together, it's almost always a knock 'em down, drag 'em out affair. And of course you can throw out the records when WVU and Pitt square off in anything, be it basketball or beer pong.

We'll have a full breakdown of the basketball schedule when it's released in the coming months.

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The final item in my notebook is unfortunate. It was revealed Friday that the men's soccer program has self-reported potential violations to both the Big East Conference and the NCAA. While the extent of the possible violations is unknown, it has already been announced that head coach Mike Seabolt will not return to the Mountaineer sideline this fall.

In just a short time, Seabolt turned the Mountaineers from a Big East bottom feeder to an NCAA Tournament team. The recent success of the program, along with the beautiful new soccer complex adjacent to the Coliseum and Hawley Field, could have propelled WVU men's soccer to soaring heights over the next several seasons.

Instead the program has been dealt a surprising blow with just over a month remaining before the season's first match. How big of a blow remains to be seen. Hopefully the program can get on the right track, the right way, and find the success it began to have under Seabolt.

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