West Virginia Football: Are the Mountaineers on the Rise?

Oliver Crawford IIICorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2012

Pencil Geno Smith in as one of the early candidates for next seasons Heisman Trophy.
Pencil Geno Smith in as one of the early candidates for next seasons Heisman Trophy.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you haven’t realized, college football is changing….rapidly.

Conference realignment has disregarded century-long rivalries in favor of lucrative television contracts. But hey, who am I to judge? Cash rules everything around me, as Notorious B.I.G would say.

So, with that mindset, the West Virginia Mountaineers have left the Big-East for the Big-12, and mountaineer nation could not be more thrilled. Out goes Rutgers, Syracuse and Connecticut and insert Texas, Oklahoma and TCU.

Football is different in West Virginia. From little kids to elder people, WVU can be seen all across the Mountain State. As a soon to be graduate from WVU, it has been great to see the reaction to the conference shift from WVU fanatics. Not only will it boost the economy of Morgantown but people will be able to consistently watch better football games.

You won’t hear crickets in the student section in 2012  as opposed to this season when WVU hosted Norfolk State. The first time Oklahoma visits Morgantown, tickets to that game will be a hot commodity, and I promise the atmosphere will be electric.

This decision was a long and well executed process. Athletic Director Oliver Luck and president Clements have done an outstanding job of leading WVU in a positive direction. With more focus on academics and the promise to update facilities across campus, the Mountaineers are prime for improvement in all areas. Not to mention the product on the field.

With the 70-33 beat down of ACC champion Clemson, WVU has picked up serious steam in recent months. The coaching staff, while incomplete, has recruited very well. I expect that to only improve as time goes on.

WVU will play a schedule that will almost certainly ensure a championship berth. With that being said, it will be a transition, and there will be some bumps along the road. What I can tell you is that the coaching staff is prepared.

Dana Holgorsen and newly hired Joe DeForest have several years of Big-12 coaching experience on their resumes. With Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin all returning, WVU fans have got to be drooling over their potential next season.

The real questions will lie on the defense. Everybody knows the offense can put up points, but it will be the defense that ultimately determines the fate of the team. It doesn’t matter if your score 48 points every game if you give up 49.

Can they do it? Absolutely. Will they? That remains to be seen. All I know for sure is WVU fans across the nation will be ready and supporting the team no matter the result. As the famous quote says, “It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer, no matter where you are."