DALLAS - The Big 12's 10 head football coaches and an assortment of some of the league's best players gather here today and Tuesday to talk about, among other things, expectations.
They will do so in response to questions from a media corps that largely believes it already has things figured out. And if they don't have it nailed already, at least 43 of them felt confident enough to vote on a predicted order of finish and a preseason all-conference team.
A word to the wise: Don't believe any forecasts ventured by either group, both of whom are notorious for their miscalculations.
As far as the coaches and players are concerned, no one has a more vested interest than they, which tends to skew anything approximating perspective.
The media? Well, this is the third season in which that group has been asked to choose a top-to-bottom order of finish (after predicting divisional races in the old 12-team setup). They failed miserably the first two times, each year selecting an Oklahoma squad that would go on to finish third and second while eventual champions Oklahoma State (2011) and Kansas State (2012) were picked third and sixth, respectively. Each received roughly 2 percent of the first-place votes.
So much for insight.
All of this is relative from a West Virginia aspect, of course, because of where the Mountaineers figure in these preseason discussions. It was relative, too, in years past when WVU was consistently being chosen at or near the top of preseason polls - mostly in the Big East, but also second last year in the Big 12 - but Mountaineer fans didn't need perspective then.
They do now with their team far closer to the bottom of all of these preseason lists than the top.
"It's night and day from what it was last year,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said in late April at the end of a rather uninspiring month of spring practices.
Yes, and from the year before that and before that and before that, etc.
The fact is, West Virginia has never, ever been predicted to finish as low as it is being picked this season. An eighth-place finish in the preseason Big 12 media poll released last week exceeds the depths to which even Rich Rodriguez's second, post 3-8 team in 2002 was forecast. That estimate would have been worse, of course, save for the fact that Temple and Rutgers were in the Big East.
Now there is but Kansas to break the fall, along with an Iowa State team that is generally regarded as lightly as WVU.