MORGANTOWN - There could be a lot of extra elbow room on West Virginia's sideline Saturday when the Mountaineers face Cincinnati, and it has nothing to do with the roominess and vast expanses of Paul Brown Stadium.
Instead, it could very likely be because WVU's travel roster will be trimmed down, not because of a lack of healthy players or budget cuts or anything of the sort.
It's simply a matter of attitude.
"We're going to take who wants to win,'' first-year WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday. "We're going to take who wants to pull for their teammates and who wants to be all in on this thing, not guys who pout or mope because they're not playing or any of the rest of it.
"We're going to be a united team. And the only way I know how to get that accomplished is to take only people that are focused and heading in the right direction.''
During a Tuesday press conference in which an inordinate amount of time was spent discussing attitude and effort, Holgorsen several times mentioned 50 or 55 as a potential travel party. West Virginia's dress list for a road game is generally closer to 65.
But after watching his team bounce around at points during a 6-3 season from generally listless to somewhat engaged, Holgorsen apparently feels the time has come to buy all in or get out. Thus, the threat to trim the travel squad.
It all has to do with the effort the Mountaineers have shown, particularly during the past three weekends. First there was a complete lack of focus in a 49-23 loss at Syracuse, then what amounted to a one-half performance in a 41-31 win at Rutgers and finally another collapse in last weekend's 38-35 loss at home to Louisville.
"In order to win, we've got to play with effort all the time,'' Holgorsen said. "There were spurts last week where there was effort, but there weren't a bunch of them. It didn't happen all the time. And typically a team that plays with effort all the time in a league that has about the same amount of talent, then the team that's able to play with effort all the time is going to be the team that wins.''
Holgorsen used Cincinnati as a prime example. The Bearcats (7-1, 3-0 Big East) have climbed from obscurity into the Top 25 and into the Big East driver's seat not because of overwhelming talent, but because of effort. West Virginia (6-3, 2-2), on the other hand, has slipped from precisely that perch to near irrelevancy perhaps for the same reason.