On the cover of West Virginia's media guide is a shot of Chris Neild, Jock Sanders, Noel Devine, Sidney Glover and J.T. Thomas.
Five good reasons for optimism heading into the season.
There was more inside. Listed as "all-star candidates" were Brandon Hogan and Robert Sands. The guide listed nine returning starters on offense and nine on defense. Don Barclay, Brad Starks, Scooter Berry and Julian Miller were among those listed. The electric Tavon Austin was back. Ditto almost-automatic Tyler Bitancurt as the kicker.
In addition, there was optimism over the new starting quarterback, Geno Smith. Rush end Bruce Irvin made a splash in preseason camp.
The Mountaineers were discussed as a serious Big East contender. Head coach Bill Stewart was good to go.
Now, however, many say he's good to go - out the door.
Last week, WVU's fan base was restless. But after the Mountaineers' loss to Connecticut on Friday night, the collective mood left "restless'' in the rear-view mirror. It's settled on "hornet mad.''
The e-mails to this desk came rolling in shortly after WVU's 16-13 overtime loss.
"How low," read one, "does the program have to go?"
"Seriously, [Stewart] is terrible," read another.
No, Stewart didn't fumble the ball in overtime. That falls on Ryan Clarke. But the bottom line is West Virginia came off a stunning home loss to former cellar dweller Syracuse and fell to Connecticut, this season's early cellar occupant.
And now, today, it's the Mountaineers who are in the Big East's basement.
Sure, West Virginia has time to rally. It can still finish 9-3. It can still finish near the top of the Big East.
The odds are, however, when one flips inside next season's media guide it won't say "Big East champions" over this season's scores. Once again.
Under Rich Rodriguez, WVU was able to place that heading over 2003's scores. And over those of 2004. And 2005. And 2006. And 2007.
The Mountaineers were the unquestioned class of the Big East. Now, they're at the back of the class.
The offense that Devine predicted would remind one of the Fourth of July, complete with fireworks, has fizzled. In four of the last five games, against opponents not named UNLV, West Virginia has scored 61 points, an average of 15.25.