West Virginia University ended the 2007 season with a bang, and rolled the Oklahoma Sooners to a 48-28 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Many critics have questioned the upcoming season as a rebuilding year or a down year due to a few of the following reasons.
One, WVU has a new head coach Bill Stewart. He is a down-to-earth great guy and is an ideal father figure. But that doesn't mean he knows the game of football. He has been a very reliable assistant in the past, and has the opportunity before to be a head coach at VMI but had an under .500 overall record.
Not only is he a questionable head coach, but can he recruit? The Mountaineers are not in trouble talent-wise for the next two years or so but the future after that is up in the air. Former coach Rich Rodriguez and Recruiting Coordinator Tony Gibson had the recruiting edge in Florida and built a program for getting great athletes in the past, can Stewart continue that though?
Two, WVU lost seven defensive starters to graduation. They had one of the premier defenses in the nation last year with the 3-3-5 set, but after you lose two of the three lineman up front, two linebackers, and three defensive backs it could take a year or so to rebuild that defense back up to its old self.
Three, Rich Rodriguez and Calvin Magee installed the spread offense as the face of the program. Everyone in the nation is aware of the abilities of quarterback Patrick White and the spread offense has been the most appropriate for his success. What new offense will Bill Stewart run for Patrick White & Co.?
They have been in the same style and spread for three years and now he wants to change and make Pat learn a new offense for his senior season? That is risking a lot and could definitely determine a successful season's outcome.
These decisions are on the shoulders of Bill Stewart now and only he can determine the season West Virginia will have in 2008. I truly believe he will figure it out and learn from mistakes this time around, and WVU will overcome all the critics and controversy and win the Big East crown once again. The talent this year that West Virginia returns is too much on offense and the defense will not be as good but will hold their own and continue to get better all year.
Attention all BCS Bowls, save a spot for the Mountaineers in January!