MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bob Huggins has always maintained that there's little comfort in being an underdog. The West Virginia basketball coach has said time and again that, given the choice, he'd much prefer walking onto the court, looking down at the other team and thinking, "Yeah, we should beat them.''
Dana Holgorsen? Well, he no doubt feels the same way.
Still, given his current station as the coach of a West Virginia football team that figures to be largely overlooked when the 2013 season begins, there are some advantages.
"It's night and day from what it was last year,'' Holgorsen said Tuesday. "But from a coaching perspective it's a little bit easier to get their attention.''
Indeed, the differences between the end of spring drills in 2012 and Saturday's wrap-up to the 2013 spring are significant, both mentally and on the chalkboard.
A year ago, West Virginia was coming off a 70-33 rout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, had virtually its entire offense returning and was considered a contender not only in the Big 12, but nationally. Yes, there were issues to be addressed defensively, but those seemed to pale in comparison to the advantages the Mountaineers had in hand.
This year, the bowl memory is of a dispiriting loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. Nearly every significant piece of the offense is gone. And while the defense is experienced, restructured and should be better, it still has to face a lineup of opponents in arguably the most explosive offensive league in the country.
Yet in a way, there are advantages to being in that situation. They certainly aren't the kind of advantages one would choose, but low expectations surely lessen the pressure.
"Well, it's certainly made things easier from a coaching perspective,'' Holgorsen said. "Last year we did our best to put our guys on high alert and to be guarded as far as what you're listening to in the media.
"This year's just completely different. There are no expectations whatsoever.''