Anytime things go wrong in a group setting, fingers started getting pointed over who is to blame.
Fingers certainly were pointed after West Virginia's pathetic performance in its 23-7 loss to North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday.
It was the Mountaineers' worst performance of the season.
West Virginia acted as if if didn't want to be in Orlando. There was no emotion. Extremely poor execution, and virtually no sense of urgency to make a comeback once that was the only thing that would save the Mountaineers.
Make no mistake - WVU lost to a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic Coast Conference that didn't play particularly well itself. Of all the bowl games that have taken place thus far -and there aren't too many left -this one was the worst to watch and had by far the flattest atmosphere.
Anyone who stayed up after the Champs Sports Bowl to watch Iowa and Missouri battle in the Insight Bowl couldn't help but notice the sharp contrast in quality of play, excitement level and intensity.
While I'm used to watching West Virginia lose bowl games, I've never before thought the Mountaineers didn't give an honest effort and represent the school and the state as well as possible. But after Tuesday night's pathetic performance, I don't know how any Mountaineer fan can feel any other way.
So who is to blame?
Obviously, the buck in every college football program stops with the head coach, whose job is to have his team ready to play. WVU wasn't ready to play and that is Bill Stewart's fault. There are some disturbing reports that West Virginia didn't take advantage of the number of pre-bowl practices it was allowed, one of the major advantages of qualifying for a bowl.
Plus, the gameplan stunk and even though that was obvious to even the most casual observer, it must not have occurred to anyone on the WVU sidelines as it didn't change from the opening kickoff to the final gun.
After years of watching West Virginia be a program built on a solid running game, I wondered where that went.
Don Nehlen may have liked that off tackle play a bit too much for most of our tastes, but it now has completely disappeared, being replaced by bubble screens.
It was yet another game where WVU didn't score in the second half, which has become an all-too-often occurence and one that will doom any program.
Stewart's leadership is receiving much more scrutiny now that he has essentially been fired and what we are seeing under the microscope makes even those of us who have defended him in the past question his methods of operation.
If indeed he failed to inform two assistant coaches that were being dismissed that they wouldn't be back and caused one to miss out on a head coaching position as has been reported elsewhere, then the trust isn't going to be there and without trust any organization won't survive.
Plus, is there anybody out there who really believes this coach-in-waiting thing is a good idea or can possiibly see how it is going to work? Shouldn't WVU or some major donor buy out Stewart's contract now?
Yet, while Stewart bears a large majority of the blame, it's not all his fault.
WVU's players looked like they could have cared less about this game. This was an unemotional effort. Describing it as workmanlike would be too kind. This wasn't an early season home game againt some rummy. This was a bowl game, the reward for a good season. The last game many seniors -not to mention many Mountaineer coaches -would be representing the school.
Instead of going out with a bang, one had to strain their ears to hear the whimper.
Then there's the role of Mountaineer Athletics Director Oliver Luck, whose move to change head coaches caused the football program to be in a state of turmoil.
Luck, like any CEO, was trying to operate behind the scenes. But that's hard to do in the world of college football, where if you are planning to change personnel in your program, you're likely going to change it in another. With football programs in particular being covered by major newspapers and bloggers and major donors being privvy to information, there's almost always a leak and this one couldn't have been more ill-timed for those who had a football season to complete.
This is the second straight year WVU seemed to be doomed to lose its bowl game due to outside forces. First, West Virginia agreed to be part of what I always will call the Bowden Bowl. Playing Bobby Bowden in his last game as a head coach in the state of Florida doesn't seem like a winning recipe and it wasn't. Then, this year's team entered an easily winnable game in which it was favored in turmoil with the players -like the fan base -choosing up sides. It was a house divided and as Mr. Lincoln reminded us a lot more than four score and seven years ago, it did not stand. It fell. Fell flat.
Rather than continuing to analyze the past, it is time to look to the future. To a new era of Mountaineer football. We must embrace Dana Holgorsen as our head coach and hope he can lead West Virginia to that national championship that has been eluding the program since its formation more than 100 years ago.
Right now, a national championship seems lightyears away. The program is in turmoil. Recruiting is going poorly. It is going to take more than a great coach to win. It also is going to take great players and those are in short supply, both returning and incoming.
We're going to have show some patience, a word generally lacking from today's instant gratification society.
Now that we have played the blame game, it's time to turn the page to the beginning of a new chapter of Mountaineer football. One we hope includes that long-awaited national championship.
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com