Again, this is not to make excuses or to defend Dana Holgorsen or anyone else. And again, yes, it is simplistic and even worn out. You know all of this. We bring it up only because perhaps you have forgotten. There is a difference in what West Virginia is doing these days as opposed to what it had done for the past two decades. And we're not talking about losing instead of winning.
West Virginia has played 10 games, seven of them against teams that are, or at some point this season were, ranked in the Top 25. Never have the Mountaineers faced such a gauntlet.
And here's the part that you may not want to acknowledge: Had West Virginia played that kind of schedule all those years, who is to say the results wouldn't have been the same as this season?
Remember, WVU didn't begin its run of fabulous seasons - 11 straight bowl games and only twice winning fewer than nine games - until Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East.
Yes, WVU occasionally proved itself against top-flight competition - Georgia, Oklahoma - but week in and week out, the Mountaineers played Rutgers and South Florida and UConn and, yes, Pitt and Louisville and the like. By season's end, when West Virginia was 9-4 or even 11-1, confidence had grown and the Mountaineers seemed able to compete with just about anyone.
Two years into the Big 12, though, don't you have to ask yourself this: Were those WVU teams significantly, if at all, better than the one that is now 4-6?
Perhaps a little bit. Perhaps not at all. You can say that this team hasn't recruited because it doesn't have a Pat White or a Steve Slaton, but playing against West Virginia's schedule today, would those two have been as successful?
Consider this: Of WVU's nine Big 12 games this season, the Mountaineers were betting underdogs in seven. That's a fact. Even playing at home, the Mountaineers likely would have been underdogs in all seven.
This isn't a fact, but it's a decent assumption: Against the 10 schools that currently comprise what was the Big East, West Virginia would have been favored against six of them no matter the venue. Against the other four, perhaps only Louisville and UCF would be favored in Morgantown. Perhaps.
None of this matters, of course. None of it changes the fact that in West Virginia's first two years in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have had a losing streak of five games one year, lost four of five the next and are 4-6 right now.
But merely saying that the program has declined is to ignore the reality.
The truth is, it may not have declined at all. It may not have improved, which is another issue entirely. The bottom line is it's just being asked to do more and hasn't.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.