Before fans get too distraught over the news coming out of Morgantown these days, they need to remember where their beloved Mountaineers resided prior to the hiring of the present coaching staffs and the national recruiting base they have developed during their tenures as head coaches.
Yes, the losses of seniors Da'Sean Butler and Wellington Smith as well as junior-to-be Devin Ebanks, who elected to forego his last two seasons for a career in the NBA, will hurt. But, I vividly can remember fans around the Mountain State wonder how the old gold and blue would survive without the services of Kevin Pittsnogle, Mike Gansey and Joe Alexander.
A trip to the Final Four for the first time in nearly 60 years quieted many of those doubters and another strong recruiting class by Bobby Huggins will go a long way to dispel fears that next year's team will be any less talented than the one which proceeded it.
High school athletes want to go where they can play immediately, play for championships and be seen on television. The loss of Butler, Ebanks and Smith opens three starting positions and you can bet there are a number of talented basketball players out there who have taken notice of those openings and have already begun making inquiries about becoming a Mountaineer.
Who wouldn't want to join a program coached by a proven winner in Huggins. The man simply has enjoyed success at every stop he has made. If it weren't for a transgression here or there, we might very well be speaking of him as one of the legendary coaches in his sport.
Fans should (and in all likelihood will) keep close tabs on the recruiting circuit for the next couple of months to see which high school phenoms list WVU as a possible home for the next one, two or more seasons.
Women's head coach Mike Carey already has showed what one solid recruiting class can do for a program as the players the former Salem International men's head coach brought to Morgantown last spring turned the program into a Top 10 ballclub and has it perched to make a serious run at a Big East title in 2011.
The other area (football) where a lot of message board chatter has fans wondering if the old gold and blue will return to the form which made it a Top 10 caliber club has begun spring drills.
Quarterback heir-apparent Geno Smith has been limited to little or no work while he recovers from foot surgery while the team's most potent weapon-senior tailback Noel Devine-has been slowed by injuries early and is unlikely to see too much work this spring.
But, before Mountaineer fans begin trading in their season tickets, take a deep breath and remember that this is only the spring. While many positions will be won or lost during the next several days, they will also be up for grabs when the team opens summer drills in August.
And, there is that Top 25 recruiting class that will be in town in June.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org