Now the Mountaineers, a preseason No. 11 team that climbed to as high as No. 5, is unranked. Obviously.
Here's what I wrote in that Sept. 7 column:
Did you know that, since 2007, 49 of the 125 preseason top 25 teams finished the year unranked?
That's 39.2 percent of teams that voters thought warranted a spot on the ballot before the games began.
Teams aren't much safer in the top 10. In that same five-year run, 10 of the 50 preseason top 10 teams - 20 percent - plummeted all the way out of the rankings by the time bowl season concluded.
That list includes Louisville in 2007 (preseason No. 10); LSU (No. 7), Clemson (No. 9) and Auburn (No. 10) in '08; Oklahoma (No. 3) and Oklahoma State (No. 9) in '09; Florida (No. 4), Texas (No. 5) and Iowa (No. 9) in '10; and Texas A&M (No. 8) last season.
West Virginia started this season ranked No. 11 in the AP poll.
The Mountaineers have started that high five times - 1998, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. It doesn't guarantee a healthy end-year ranking.
In '98, WVU started at No. 11 and finished the year unranked. In '04, the Mountaineers went from No. 10 to unranked. In '08, Bill Stewart's first season as head coach, WVU went from No. 8 to No. 23.
The Mountaineers are 5-5 overall, 2-5 in the Big 12, and have today's road game against Iowa State with the home finale against Kansas looming. No way, even with consecutive wins to win the regular season and an impressive bowl win over a name opponent, will they squeeze back into the top 25.
That means that three of the six times WVU has started the year ranked No. 11 or higher, it'll have finished the season unranked.
A fourth time, the Mountaineers finished No. 23.
In 2007, Rhoads' defense stifled Pat White and Steve Slaton and blocked West Virginia's title quest.
Now, after preseason hype and a top five national ranking, Rhoads can set up a matchup of Big 12 cellar dwellers on the five-year anniversary of that 13-9 upset at Mountaineer Field.
What a long, strange fall it's been.