MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Ever take a glance backward to see what's happening over there in the Big East?
Oops. Make that the American Athletic Conference.
I know, it's a tired subject. It's simplistic, too. And given the result of that whole Pinstripe Bowl deal a year ago - when West Virginia was just crushed by the only Big East team it actually played - perhaps it's a bit disingenuous even to make the comparison.
Still, don't you just have to wonder where West Virginia's football team might be had the school somehow been able to stay where it was and not risk financial ruin by doing so?
In other words, to imagine if WVU were UConn. Or Cincinnati. Or South Florida.
Now understand, this is not to wax nostalgic. It's not meant to make excuses, either. It is, however, meant to put things in perspective. And truth be told, it might be a perspective that hurts just a little bit.
Imagine that this same West Virginia team that sits at 4-6 and needs to finish 2-0 just to salvage bowl eligibility were in the Big East. Or the AAC. Or whatever you want to call it. Would it still be in its current dilemma?
Well, for starters the Mountaineers would have played Temple, UConn, Memphis, South Florida and SMU. Those five teams have combined to win eight games. Yes, there's a chance WVU could have stumbled somewhere in there, but chances are they would win all five.
And then there is Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have a winning record at 5-3, but West Virginia has always owned Rutgers. That's six wins.
Now on to the upper echelon. Central Florida and Louisville are a combined 15-2 and ranked in the Top 25, but neither in the Top 15 (Does that say something?). Cincinnati and Houston are each 7-2 and unranked.
Now, inject WVU into that conversation. To imagine that against that schedule West Virginia would not at least be among those teams at the top is silly. The Mountaineers would. Depending upon how the schedule might have broken, they could be unbeaten in league play or with a loss or two and going into the final weeks of the season fighting for the league title. Maybe there's a huge game against Louisville or UCF still to play, who knows?
It's not that difficult to imagine. In fact, think back just two years ago when West Virginia was 6-3 at this point and needed to sweep Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida and get a whole bunch of help to win the Big East. They did and they got all that help and wound up in the Orange Bowl.
Was that team any better than this one? Well, you can make the argument that it had Geno Smith and Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but for all that group did it also was hammered by Syracuse on a Friday night in the Carrier Dome, lost to Louisville at home and needed a miracle finish to beat South Florida.
What would it have done against Baylor and Oklahoma and Texas or on the road at Kansas State or TCU or against an unbeaten Texas Tech team or preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma State?
Get the idea?