Morgantown, West Virginia – At no point in the history of West Virginia athletics has the football and basketball programs collectively been in such bad shape at the same time. The numbers don’t lie and unfortunately West Virginia has been the worst program in the Big 12 Conference over the last 5 years.
It’s never been easy to be a West Virginia fan. There has been plenty of heartache and frustration over the years, but at this point we’re approaching complete, widespread apathy.
In football, West Virginia is 14-21 in conference play since Neal Brown has been the head coach of the Mountaineers. Only Texas Tech (13-23) and Kansas (5-30) have been worse. Overall, Brown is 22-25, West Virginia has not been in the Top 25 since 2018, there have been zero program-defining wins, no progress on the field, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia was 5-7 last season. While the fanbase will be told to trust the people in charge, it’s difficult to see any reason for hope in 2023. West Virginia has lost numerous quality, proven players to the transfer portal and graduation and have gained mostly players who have performed well at the Group of 5 level. Adding players from Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Towson, etc., will never be adequate enough to improve a failing Power 5 team like the Mountaineers.
Yes, West Virginia also added a tight end from LSU (Kole Taylor – 5 catches, 55 yards last season), a wide receiver from NC State (25 receptions, 406 yards, 2 touchdowns in 2022) and a solid defensive lineman from Penn State (Fatorma Mulbah – no stats in 2022), but no one Neal Brown and his staff have added this offseason can come close to replacing players like Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Charles Woods, Kaden Prather, Jordan Jefferson, Mumu Bin-Wahad, JT Daniels, among many others.
So the question begging to be asked is, if West Virginia was bad last year, how are they going to be better next season by downgrading their talent? A few of the new players may certainly be quality additions who could help the team, but it’s simply impossible to argue that the Mountaineers have upgraded in any way heading into 2023.
With a legendary, Hall of Fame head coach, you’d expect the basketball program to be in better shape, but that simply isn’t the case. Over the past 5 years, West Virginia is 28-48 in Big 12 Conference play, which is 9th out of 10 teams, ahead of only Iowa State (25-51). The Mountaineers are 0-5 this season in conference play and have lost five consecutive games. West Virginia is currently 10-7 overall and although they can still be found on NCAA Tournament projections, their upcoming schedule suggests that it’s going to be difficult to find another win for a really long time.
West Virginia plays #17 TCU on Wednesday night, then #10 Texas, at Texas Tech, against #21 Auburn and then on the road at #17 TCU again. The Mountaineers could potentially win one or two of those games, but the team needs at least nine more wins this season to get to nineteen wins and only have fourteen games remaining. While Bob Huggins has promised that the Mountaineers are going to be better and that they are going to turn this season around, winning 9 out of 14 games to end the season seems like an impossibility at this point.
Following this season, the Mountaineers lose starters Jimmy Bell, Jr., Emmitt Matthews, Jr., Kedrian Johnson and Erik Stevenson, as well as talented point guard Joe Toussaint off the bench, and West Virginia simply does not have much to get excited about left on the 2023-2024 roster. In addition, West Virginia currently has no recruits committed to play for the team and so Huggins – if he continues to coach the team next season – will once again have to rely on the transfer portal. Huggins and staff were successful in the portal this last year, but most of the players available will be one-and-done players and the whole cycle will start all over again next year.
With that all said, it’s hard to see any reason to be hopeful or positive about the football or basketball programs for the foreseeable future. It’s truly the Dark Days of West Virginia Sports and although fans of the Mountaineers are some of the most loyal, passionate in the entire country, the product on the field and court has given West Virginia fans nothing to cheer about.
Combined (Football and Basketball) Conference Records over the Last 5 years. Truly unacceptable. The Dark Days of #WVU Sports. pic.twitter.com/Tsxygns8OL
— The Voice of Morgantown (@voicemorgantown) January 15, 2023