There has been little indication that this season will be any better than that for the league.
But the only time West Virginia - or any team, for that matter - won the league at 5-2 was 2007. That was Rodriguez's last year, when the Mountaineers lost early to South Florida, clinched the Big East title with a rout of Connecticut and then laid the 13-9 egg against Pitt to take themselves right out of the national championship game.
The fact is, West Virginia has finished 5-2 in the Big East five times, including the last four years in a row. And with the exception of 2007, the Mountaineers finished tied for second in each of those other four seasons.
That, however, is splitting hairs because the more pressing issue is what of finishing 6-1, which is now the best the Mountaineers can do. And the truth is that not since 2002 has a Big East team finished with one loss and not won the league championship. Cincinnati in 2008 and Louisville in 2006 were the last two conference teams to finish 6-1 and both won the title outright. WVU and Miami tied for first at 6-1 in 2003.
"We've won the Big East one time in the 11 years I've been here at 7-0. One time,'' Stewart said. "There's a lot of football left.''
It could, however, be a lot of disappointing football should West Virginia not discover some answers to its offensive problems. A team with a vast array of playmakers scored touchdowns on two rather impressive drives in the first quarter against Syracuse, and then not only went scoreless the rest of the way, but didn't even march into field goal range until the end of a game in which a field goal would do no good.
Still, Stewart was typically upbeat, not about the loss but about the future.
"We had a lot of positives out there [Saturday],'' Stewart said. "But the negatives outweighed them and, by golly, it's a great lesson in life.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.