CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 118th regular season of football at West Virginia University closes Saturday. For the ninth consecutive year and the 30th time in history, the Mountaineers are headed to a bowl game.
Yet, to consider much of the wailing about the WVU program within the Mountain State, you'd think not only were the sky and Seneca Rocks falling, but the Mountaineers were piling up 5-7 and 7-6 (and lowball bowl) finishes with regularity.
If WVU (8-3, 4-2) downs 20-point underdog Rutgers (for a 16th straight season) at Mountaineer Field, the 'Eers will have a sixth straight season of at least nine wins. They will have at least a share of a Big East Conference title for the fifth time in eight years.
(For more on WVU's success in the 20-year history of the Big East, see my column in today's edition of Mountaineer Gameday in this newspaper.)
I talked with one of my longtime scribe buddies in another state recently, and he asked about the tenor surrounding the WVU program. When I explained how many WVU supporters were in a constant snit about Coach Bill Stewart, he laughed.
"Who do they think they're going to hire, Nick Saban?" he asked.
I don't think Saban is coming back to his home state, unless WVU is willing to pay him more than $4 million annually to pry him away from Alabama ... and that's not going to happen.
Besides, how do you think it would sit with Bob Huggins if a WVU coach were making more than twice his current $1.8 million salary, unless it were, well, Huggs himself?
Besides, the thought that WVU's football program is somehow mired in a bad way (other than through NCAA allegations that are being negotiated) is a lot like what Stewart said in retort to that baseless Internet wishful thinking of last weekend about Stewart's impending retirement.
The Mountaineer program's supposed severe slippage is "greatly exaggerated," it says here.
The basis for this unrealistic mindset is the fact that West Virginia won 11 games three seasons in a row before Coach Rich Rodriguez bolted, and now the Mountaineers seem to be stuck on nine.
A lot of programs would like to be stuck there.
The six straight seasons with at least nine victories (if WVU gets there today or in a bowl)? Only three other major schools have a similar current streak - Boise State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. That's a list Texas, Florida and USC fell from this season.
At least eight wins every season over the last nine years? It's not much more crowded - West Virginia, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Boise State, LSU and Oklahoma.
Expecting a program to win 11 games in more than three consecutive seasons is a bit much, even if Amos Alonzo Stagg or Bear Bryant return from dirt naps to lead the troops.