MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen's final postgame press conference of 2013 Saturday night seemed equal parts postmortem and prelude.
And why not? After one of the most anguishing seasons in West Virginia football history, the next one can't come soon enough.
The Mountaineers stayed true to form in Saturday's finale against Iowa State, perhaps proving once and for all that the quality of the opposition didn't really matter this season. Be it one of the Big 12's power brokers (Oklahoma, Texas) or also-rans (Kansas, Iowa State), West Virginia more often than not found a way to come up short.
This time it was losing leads of 31-7 in the first half and 38-21 in the final 10 minutes. A 52-44, three-overtime loss to Iowa State was the third time in the final four games the Mountaineers went to overtime.
It was also the sixth time in the last six games West Virginia lost a second-half lead and the fifth time it cost them a game.
First, the postmortem:
"We've talked about finishing all year long,'' Holgorsen said. "And obviously that's something that's going to be addressed in the offseason when it comes to issues we've had this year not being able to close games.
"Why can't you close games? Obviously it comes down to execution. It's a burning desire to win, a collection of guys that don't want to let each other down, coaches and players. Obviously we're not at that point right now.''
But then there was the prelude. After the way West Virginia's season ended - a 4-8 record, 2-7 in Big 12 play, the first losing season since 2001 and the absence of a bowl game for the first time since that same season - 2014 can't begin soon enough.
"Besides thanking the seniors, the other thing we talked about [with the players after the loss] was that 2014 starts tomorrow,'' Holgorsen said. "We'll be out on the road recruiting and, obviously, recruiting is something that needs to improve. And then just getting the returning guys to buy into what we're doing.''
What, though, will 2014 bring? Holgorsen's first WVU team finished 10-3 and won the Orange Bowl in record fashion. His second started the season 5-0, making his 18-game mark 15-3. Since then, though, the Mountaineers have gone just 6-14, finishing 7-6 in 2012 and now 4-8. The decline has been precipitous and obvious.
Yet Holgorsen insists that this is not the time to chart a new course. Instead he will drive forward with essentially the same plan, one that he obviously feels won't pay dividends until it is completed.