MORGANTOWN — There are, I suppose, advantages to low expectations.
But just how low the expectations are for West Virginia's football team this season are, well, rather shocking.
Just ask Las Vegas.
First, some perspective.
A year ago, heading into the Big 12 armed with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and, yes, Dana Holgorsen, only a handful of teams in the country were afforded better odds than WVU at winning the national championship. On the surface they seemed rather long, of course, but at 45-to-1 only 15 schools were deemed to have a better chance.
Those odds, by the way, came by way of the web site bovada.lv, which I'm aware of not because of any particular penchant I have for gambling, but because apparently I'm on a mailing list that provides them regularly. Go figure.
Anyway, those odds from last year were the final ones prior to the start of the season. The only schools with better odds pretty much form the who's who of every season's Top 25, from Southern California (3-1) and Alabama (5-1) to Michigan and Notre Dame (each at 40-1). Florida (50-1) and Auburn (75-1) weren't as highly regarded, nor was Boise State (100-1).
Of the 45 schools that were even deemed worthy of a listing (most of the power conference members and a few BYUs and Boises), the Mountaineers were given a better chance of winning the title than 30. Truthfully, that wasn't much different than most of the years in the decade before.
Now, for the naked truth about 2013: Although the odds will be updated several times between now and the start of the season, heading into the summer West Virginia's odds of winning the national championship are ...
More bad news: This year there are odds provided on 48 teams. Forty-four of them have better odds of winning it all. If you want to feel equal or superior to anyone you'll have to crow to Missouri (also 300-1) or Boston College and South Florida (each at 500-1).
Extrapolating those odds against WVU's schedule, though, the Mountaineers should still have a winning record. The reason is that only five schools on the WVU schedule are even listed with odds — Oklahoma State and Texas (each at 33-1), Oklahoma (50-1), TCU (66-1) and Kansas State (200-1). One would assume those schools that aren't listed have even longer odds, and that includes Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Maryland and Georgia State.
No word yet on William & Mary's odds in the FCS.
If you're looking for a ray of sunshine, I suppose that will have to do, at least until the games are played and all of this means anything.