As I began writing this piece, I was summarizing the lopsided loss, pointing out where the Mountaineers had fallen short in the debacle against Maryland. However, by now we have had the statistics burned into our minds. The howls for Coach Rodriguez's head are ringing loud on the bulletin boards, and the visions of a 9-3 season on Friday have been replaced with wails of doom and an impending 3-9 record.
Amazing what a difference a single game makes.
Well, I'm going to throw out my observations, for what they are worth, in the hopes of putting the game in some perspective.
No, WVU is not as good as the dismantling of East Carolina two weeks ago had some of us believing.
No, WVU is not as bad as the dismantling we suffered at the hands of Maryland has some of us believing.
We are, to put it bluntly, mediocre. We are a middle of the road team, just as the preseason pollsters predicted. At this moment, this is a 5-7, 6-6 or, at best, 7-5 team.
The key words are, at this moment.
You see, teams can improve; teams can get better. We can tighten up a secondary that had more holes than an Enron accounting audit. Rasheed Marshall can learn to throw a deep ball. Punt coverage teams can learn to tackle the guy with the little brown thing stuck under his arm. And yes, coaching staffs can learn that it may be time to air it out when you are down by four touchdowns.
This was a complete, total and utter defeat – no other way to characterize it. When the story of the 2002/2003 season is written, there is no doubt that we will look back at the Maryland game and declare it a pivotal moment.
However, it can be the moment when the downward spiral started, as last year, or it can be the moment that this team showed something that, frankly, WVU teams over the last decade have lacked -- mental toughness, resiliency, a refusal to accept defeat and mediocrity. It can be the moment when this team and staff came together, matured as a group, and found ways to win. The choice lies with them.
All we can do, in the end, is be there to cheer them on, win or lose, because they are our Mountaineers.