Trusting 'process,' feelings of disrespect fueling WVU's success
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Over the past several years, former general manager Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers have turned the idiom “trust the process” into an object of parody and ridicule.
But for the No. 12 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12), trusting the process has been the secret to their success as they have ridden a newfound commitment to hard work to a surprising 5-0 start.
“You focus on how you got to that point, why you're 5-0, because we did a great job at preparation. The players bought in. They worked hard in practice,” offensive line coach Ron Crook said. “It's not a coincidence. It's not magic that it happens. It happens because you went out and trusted what you were doing. You trusted the process, and now you have to come in and do it over again.”
Crook said last week was one of the best weeks of practice the Mountaineers had in his four years with the program, and the result was a 48-17 road demolition of Texas Tech that moved them onto the national radar.
The ensuing AP poll has West Virginia at No. 12, their highest ranking at any point of the season since 2012 — perhaps not coincidentally the last season the Mountaineers started 5-0.
In 2012, West Virginia followed that start with five straight losses, eventually finishing the season 7-6 and unranked. For coach Dana Holgorsen, the record through five games is where the similarities end.
“I know you all are thinking 2012. I know you all are,” he said. “This is a totally different team. There are no similarities between the two teams. I think this team is a good group of kids that like each other and like playing the game, and they didn't listen to when everyone was saying we (stunk) and they're not going to listen when everyone is saying we're good.”
The last point is the one that continues to resonate with the players. All season, the Mountaineers have talked about feeling disrespected by the media, the polls and college football pundits.
And even though West Virginia is climbing the rankings, that mindset hasn't changed. It is driving the Mountaineers to continue trusting the process heading into another important conference game Saturday against TCU.
“The people who are ranking us No. 12 right now are the same people who left us out of that conversation,” senior quarterback Skyler Howard said. “We're still not respected.
“I don't know why I would think it would change now, why I would be respected as a quarterback and why our team would be respected as West Virginia when it hasn't been in years past and in weeks past.”
David Statman is a freelance writer.