Returning are no stars for the school to promote. None.
WVU will have a new quarterback. Running backs Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison have not established themselves. The only returning starting receiver from the Pinstripe Bowl is Connor Arlia. And along the offensive line the returners are Quinton Spain, Pat Eger and Curtis Feigt.
On defense, many are returning. But it's a unit currently ranked No. 109 in total defense after allowing an average of 472.77 yards per game.
Oddly, there are more bright spots on defense for the Mountaineers. Linebacker Isaiah Bruce, a redshirt freshman this season, returns. In the secondary, safety Karl Joseph, a fine true freshman this season, is back. The defensive backfield, in fact, should return Joseph, Darwin Cook and Brodrick Jenkins.
Kickers Tyler Bitancurt and Corey Smith are out the door.
Some help could be on the way. In the defensive backfield, cornerback Vernon Davis, a transfer from Miami, Fla., will be eligible. But that still leaves just four reliable DBs. Along the offensive line, current freshmen Adam Pankey and Tyler Orlosky, as well as injured Tony Matteo, could help a bit.
The word is a couple freshmen are hoping to be in school and ready for spring drills.
And then there are the four mid-year junior college transfers - running back Dreamius Smith, safety Terrell Pinson and receivers Ronald Carswell and Kevin White. There's also a chance of signing four-star JC QB Tanner McEvoy, who is visiting Oregon on Jan. 11 and then deciding between the Mountaineers and Ducks. The signing period for transfers runs through Jan. 15. (Of course JC transfers could pan out anywhere from Bruce Irvin to Josh Francis to Mark Glowinski to Terrance Moore. In other words, star to bust.)
Boiled down, Luck has a tough sell to his fans for next season. The stars are gone. Preseason magazines and polls will undoubtedly place WVU near the bottom of the Big 12 for 2013-14.
There will be no ESPN commercials starring Holgorsen. There will be no Heisman Trophy hype for the team's quarterback. There will be no preseason Top 25 ranking.
The only ace Luck currently has up his sleeve for next season are the Big 12 opponents hitting Morgantown: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State.
Holgorsen, though, seems to understand.
"There's nobody more unhappy about this than I am," he said. "And our guys better prepare for a tough offseason. We need to do what's necessary to get better."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.