HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The cover of Athlon's 2013 college football national preview magazine features Notre Dame's Everett Golson.
The quarterback is clutching the ball with his right hand and his golden helmet is glistening in the light.
So much promise. So outdated.
Obviously, this particular Athlon magazine went to press before Notre Dame suspended Golson for the 2013 season for "poor academic judgment."
Plenty can happen during the summer months that can change the makeup of a college football team. The preseason potential is based on returning starters, the 2012 performance of those players and perceived strength of schedule. Little is known about newcomers, how they'll mesh with the returning players and how players grew - physically, mentally and emotionally - in the offseason.
One thing is certain: Marshall is popular with prognosticators.
"I enjoy high expectations," fourth-year Herd Coach Doc Holliday said at a news conference inside the Shewey Building on Monday, one week before his team opens preseason camp.
"I've said all along, I don't want to be anywhere that expectations aren't high."
The 56-year-old Holliday then added, "Expectations and potential mean absolutely nothing."
Remember last season when Notre Dame couldn't crack the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll, and then went 12-0 in the regular season and played for the national championship? Or how here in the Mountain State, West Virginia was preseason No. 11 and then stumbled through the Big 12 and tumbled out of the rankings?
That said, Holliday is not against the bar being raised in Huntington.
"That's a good thing because everybody must think we've got a chance to be pretty good," he said, "and I'd rather have that than everybody think we're not a very good team and don't have very good players."
The biggest Thundering Herd cheerleader has been Phil Steele, who called MU the most-improved team. That prediction recently popped up again on ESPN.com, where Steele listed Marshall as one of five BCS busters.
This week, Paul Myerberg of USA Today revealed Marshall as the No. 40 team in his College Football Top 125 Countdown. The Herd is one spot behind Ohio, one of its non-conference obstacles. Marshall is 17 spots ahead of WVU.
"Polls at this point don't mean a whole lot," Holliday said. "The only time it means something is at the end of the year."
Steele has Marshall as a favorite in 10 of its 12 games. Myerberg wrote that a dream season would include a 11-1 finish for the Herd and a chance at a BCS spot entering the Conference USA title game.