Monday, June 5, 2023

Holgorsen on the Move Again?

Mike Leach left Washington State last week to become the new Head Coach at Mississippi State, leaving an opening at Washington State.  Dana Holgorsen, who was Leach's Offensive Coordinator at Texas Tech from 2005-2007, is now the current Head Coach at Houston. Holgorsen's Houston Cougars struggled in his first season, finishing 4-8 and 2-6 in the conference.  Although he expressed excitement about coaching in Houston, it is not a Power 5 school and he has no chance of winning a National Championship there. Washington State is currently searching for a new head coach and suddenly Leach protege Dana Holgorsen has become a name that is being mentioned as a possibility.  In fact, a plane was tracked leaving Pullman, Washington (where Washington State is located) yesterday, landed in Houston, Texas, stayed there for 2 hours, and then returned to Pullman later in the day.  To add to the mystery, the flight details were marked as "BLOCKED" to protect the privacy of the occupants on the plane. Why would a private plane fly from Pullman, Washington to Houston, Texas for two hours and return the same day unless Dana Holgorsen was somehow involved?  Holgorsen seems like an interesting choice, but he does run the very same Air Raid offense as Leach and would make for a seamless transition for Washington State. If Holgorsen were to leave Houston, he would owe the school $9.1 million in 2020, $7.1 million in 2021, $2.5 million in 2022 and $1 million in 2023.

Holgorsen’s Bizarre Response to Losing his Star Player

As if things couldn't get worse for Dana Holgorsen in his first season with the Houston Cougars, his star quarterback and Heisman-hopeful D'Eriq King announced that he is going to enter the Transfer Portal...again. Back in September, after playing four games for the Houston Cougars this past season, King announced that he would enter the Transfer Portal.  He quickly changed his mind and decided to simply redshirt and said he would return to Houston next season. However, King, who is one of the most talented dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, announced on Twitter during the National Championship Game, that he has decided to enter the Transfer Portal. Moments after his star quarterback announced that he would enter the Transfer Portal, Houston Head Coach Dana Holgorsen posted a cryptic, unusual Tweet, saying, "LFG!!!"  "LFG" is short for "Let's f***ing go!" Either Holgorsen has lost it completely or he's somehow excited that he lost his star quarterback and Houston's best player.  It's unclear where King will transfer to, but Oklahoma is likely a top destination after losing Jalen Hurts.  Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley recently said of King, "Like a lot of guys that are a little bit shorter, not much different than some of the guys we had here, occasionally it causes people to back off.  But there’s a lot of people now that would love to have him.  He is a fantastic player.” Another possible destination for King is the LSU Tigers.  The Tigers' starting quarterback Joe Burrow, a Senior, played in his final college game last night and will now be on his way to the NFL.  D'Eriq King would make a perfect replacement for Burrow for the National Champions in Baton Rouge. Houston, in Holgorsen's first season as the Head Coach, finished 5-7 overall and 2-6 in conference play.  Clayton Tune and Holgorsen's son Logan Holgorsen will now compete for the starting quarterback position next season.

The Perfect Replacement

As reported earlier, West Virginia's Wide Receiver Coach Xavier Dye left for the same position at the University of South Florida.  Head Coach Neal Brown was quick to thank Dye for his contributions to West Virginia and said the search for a replacement would begin immediately. “I want to thank Xavier Dye for his contributions to WV football over the last 10 months.  We wish him the best as he reunites with close friend and mentor Jeff Scott.  Our search has already begun as we seek to find a dynamic teacher to lead our talented young WR core.” Dye was an outstanding recruiter and fantastic coach for the Mountaineers, and him leaving the program would typically be a big loss for the football program.  However, there is a former West Virginia football player out there that would make the transition to a new wide receiver's coach seamless. Stedman Bailey.  Bailey, a former first team Big East selection, first team All-American in 2012, who finished his college career at West Virginia University with the gaudy 210 receptions, 3,218 yards and 41 touchdowns in three seasons, would make the absolute perfect replacement for Dye as the new wide receivers coach for the Mountaineers. Bailey set the Mountaineer single season record for receiving yardage (1,279 yards) and tied the school record for most touchdown receptions (12) in a single season.  His career receiving yards rank 13th in Division I football all-time.  Bailey went on to be drafted in the 3rd round by the then-St. Louis Rams. Bailey's NFL career was cut short after he was shot multiple times in the head while sitting in a car with his family.  Although the assailants were never apprehended, Bailey survived the attack and eventually attempted an NFL comeback.  Although this attempt came up short, Bailey is a survivor and the newly open wide receivers coach position is the perfect opportunity for him to get back into football. Born and raised in Miramar, Florida, Stedman Bailey would immediately re-open the Miramar to West Virginia pipeline that brought the Mountaineers Geno Smith, Ivan McCartney, Yodny Cajuste, as well as Bailey.  Bailey knows Florida football and at only 29 years of age would be relatable to young players. Not only is Bailey one of West Virginia's best wide receivers ever, he will also make an outstanding recruiter and representative of our university.  Although there are likely many great potential replacements out there (see: Clint Trickett, current tight ends coach at FAU and former WVU quarterback), Neal Brown should be on the phone with Stedman Bailey to make him the new Wide Receivers Coach at West Virginia University immediately.

Update on Stedman Bailey to West Virginia as the Wide Receivers Coach

If it were up to Stedman Bailey, the former record-breaking West Virginia wide receiver, 2020 will start with him returning to Morgantown as the wide receivers coach for the Mountaineers. I recently spoke with Bailey and he remains interested in the position.  Bailey said about his interest in coaching for the Mountaineers: "I'm expecting a call soon.  He (Coach Brown) has my number.  Stay tuned, I'm having my agent go ahead and do his professional job and make all necessary calls." Bailey went on to say, "If it's in God's will, it will happen, but there isn't much of an update right now.  It's the holiday season and I'm sure Coach Brown is taking this time away to capitalize on family time.  I'm pretty positive I'll at least get a chance to interview and from there we shall see." Although he doesn't have any formal coaching experience, Bailey is a former first team Big East selection, first team All-American in 2012, who finished his college career at West Virginia University with the gaudy 210 receptions, 3,218 yards and 41 touchdowns in three seasons, and he would make the absolute perfect replacement for Xavier Dye as the new wide receivers coach for the Mountaineers. Bailey set the Mountaineer single season record for receiving yardage (1,279 yards) and tied the school record for most touchdown receptions (12) in a single season.  His career receiving yards rank 13th in Division I football all-time.  Bailey went on to be drafted in the 3rd round by the then-St. Louis Rams. Bailey's NFL career was cut short after he was shot multiple times in the head while sitting in a car with his family.  Although the assailants were never apprehended, Bailey survived the attack and eventually attempted an NFL comeback.  Although this attempt came up short, Bailey is a survivor and the newly open wide receivers coach position is the perfect opportunity for him to get back into football. Born and raised in Miramar, Florida, Stedman Bailey would immediately re-open the Miramar to West Virginia pipeline that brought the Mountaineers Geno Smith, Ivan McCartney, Yodny Cajuste, as well as Bailey.  Bailey knows Florida football and at only 29 years of age would be relatable to young players. 2020 is going to be a big year for the West Virginia Mountaineers and it's my hope that Stedman Bailey will lead the young, talented wide receivers corps for years to come.

Next Week’s Starting Quarterback

I fully expect Neal Brown – despite all logic and rational reasoning pointing to Jarret Doege – to name Austin Kendall as the starting quarterback for next Saturday’s game at Kansas State. Neal Brown doesn’t see what the rest of us see.  In his postgame conference following the embarrassing Texas Tech loss, Brown said of his decision to play Jarret Doege, “Just because.  He has four games and I wanted to get him some reps.  I thought he did some good things.  The same things that plague Jarret are the same things that plague Austin.  We dropped the ball, all right, we didn’t do a great job of protection.  I’ll say this, I wish quarterback was our problem.  I wish quarterback was our problem because that’s an easy fix.” In other words, according to Brown, Austin Kendall is not the problem and Jarret Doege didn’t do anything better than Kendall has done.  I’m not entirely sure what Brown saw, but while Doege only had three possessions, the offense looked very different than it did in the first three quarters with Kendall under center. Doege finished 11/17 with 119 yards and a touchdown, but what was most impressive was his poise and patience in the pocket.  Doege, when pressured, calmly and coolly avoided the rush with outstanding footwork and a beautiful spin move at one point.  Doege appeared to be a quarterback who has been there, done that and knows what he’s doing and how to get the job done. West Virginia’s final drive, a 7 play, 61 yard drive took 2 minutes and 18 seconds and resulted in a touchdown pass from Doege to Freshman running back Tony Mathis.  This was by far the most impressive drive of the game and a glimpse into the future of West Virginia football. Until then, Austin Kendall will likely remain the starter and the offense will almost certainly suffer another difficult game on the road against a really solid Kansas State team. Brown promised the fans following the loss to Texas Tech “that we will build a successful program here.”  While I appreciate his enthusiasm and his desire to make things right, the very first step towards that is benching Austin Kendall and playing the future quarterback of the Mountaineers, Jarret Doege.

West Virginia WILL Win a National Championship in My Lifetime

As a 40 year old man, my priorities and what I want to happen before I die become more clear.  1.  I want to watch my kids grow up.  2.  I want to be a grandfather.  3.  I want to see the Mountaineers win a National Championship. WVU winning a national championship is 3rd on my list of what I want to see happen in my lifetime and I suspect that it’s the very same for most of Mountaineer Nation. West Virginia sports was, is and always will be a significant part of who I am.  With that said, as I recently turned 40 I started to ask myself realistic questions about my future:  Will I live long enough to see and do the things that will make my life complete and will the West Virginia Mountaineers win a National Championship in my lifetime? Winning a National Championship is really hard. West Virginia basketball made it to the national championship game in 1959 and lost by one point to California.  The football team competed in the national championship game in 1988 and lost to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl after Major Harris was injured on the 3rd play of the game. The basketball team also came very close during the 2009-2010 season before losing to the eventual champion Duke after Da’Sean Butler was injured in the 2nd half.  The 2007 football team was the #2 team in the country and 10-1 before losing to 28 point underdog Pitt in the final game 13-9.  So getting to the national championship is difficult, but West Virginia has been there, has been on the cusp of winning it all and making mine and every other Mountaineer fans’ dreams come true. I likely have somewhere between 25-50 years of life left and the odds of WVU getting back in contention for a national championship in the next 25-50 years are actually very favorable. Baseball:  With all due respect to WVU Baseball, winning a national championship in baseball would simply not be the same as winning a Basketball or Football championship.  The same could be said for the Rifle team or Women's Soccer.  It's great that they can win and compete for national titles, but ultimately it's simply not the same as winning a football or basketball championship.  However, with Coach Randy Mazey in charge, the Mountaineer baseball team will be competitive for years to come. Basketball:  West Virginia is very, very lucky to have a coach of Bob Huggins’ caliber guiding the team, but his window is somewhere in the range of 2-5 years before he retires.  Huggins will have his team back in the mix this season and anything can happen during March Madness.  The NCAA Tournament is filled with upsets and miracles and Huggins prepares his teams better than anyone in the country.  A basketball national championship seems possible every year in Morgantown with Bob Huggins as the coach and his recent recruiting only bolsters the Mountaineers' chances. Football:  When Head Coach Neal Brown took the job at West Virginia, he pointed out how close the Mountaineers have been to winning national championships multiple times.  "88, 93 and 2007 either played for a national championship or was within a game of a national championship."  Brown is a very young man and has proven that he can have his teams ready to compete with the elite teams in the country.  When Brown has his pieces in place, WVU will be competitive not only in the Big 12 but also nationally.  If Brown stays and continues to recruit well not only in state but throughout the country, there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t bring a national championship to Morgantown. One of these three programs will find a way to make the dream of West Virginia winning a National Championship in my lifetime a reality.  Although it’s never happened in the many years of existence, I believe the Mountaineers will win it all because that’s what we as WVU fans do.  We believe and we always will believe.

Rich Rod Headed to a West Virginia Rival?

Virginia Tech's current Head Coach Justin Fuente is interviewing for the Baylor coaching vacancy left by Matt Rhule when he decided to take the job as the new Carolina Panthers Head Coach in the NFL.  Fuente is rumored to be Baylor's top target and it's likely his job if he wants it. Virginia Tech will then be left to search for a replacement for Fuente and none other than Rich Rodriguez makes an awful lot of sense to replace Fuente.  In fact, it makes almost too much sense for it to not happen. Former West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was recently not retained as Offensive Coordinator by Lane Kiffin, the new Ole Miss Head Coach.  Although Ole Miss struggled to a 4-8 record, their offense made great strides under Rodriguez and he is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant offensive minds in college football today. Rodriguez was recently quoted as saying, "I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I would like to be a Head Coach again." This opportunity would be a perfect fit for Rodriguez.  Back in 2015, when Rodriguez was the Head Coach at Arizona and Frank Beamer announced his retirement from Virginia Tech, Rodriguez was strongly considered before he withdrew his name from being considered for the position in order to stay at Arizona. Virginia Tech's current Athletic Director Whit Babcock, a WVU fundraiser for most of Rodriguez's 2001-07 tenure there, highly respects Rich Rodriguez and this just seems like a match made in Hokie heaven. Rodriguez would get another chance at a top tier program, Babcock would get the man that he always wanted to replace Beamer, and the rivalry between West Virginia and Virginia Tech would absolutely go to another level.  Remember, the two schools will meet again in Morgantown on Sept. 18, 2021, with a second date scheduled in Blacksburg on Sept. 24, 2022. Can you imagine the atmosphere at Mountaineer Field with hated rival Virginia Tech coming back to Morgantown with West Virginia's most despised son returning as the team's Head Coach?

Brown Hires Assistant to the Head Coach

Neal Brown has added to his staff today by hiring Bill Legg as the Assistant to the Head Coach. According to the press release from West Virginia University and Head Coach Neal Brown, “Bill is a great addition to our football staff, not only with his years of successful football coaching experience but also being from the state of West Virginia," Brown said. "He was the first signee of legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Nehlen, so he has ties to the program. He is a WVU graduate, a former starter for the football program and coached for several years on the staff. We are excited to have Bill, his wife Kelly, and his daughter, Sarah, rejoin the Mountaineer Football Family. Legg was the offensive coordinator for the Mountaineers during the 2000 season and has a wealth of experience. “This is really an exciting time to be working with the WVU football program," Legg said. "I have a lot of respect for what Coach Brown has already done with the program and the direction it is heading. My family and I look forward to being back home."

McKivitz: “I’m a Prick and a Civilized Redneck”

Former West Virginia Mountaineer offensive lineman Colton McKivitz was picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft yesterday and his incredible contributions in Morgantown will never be forgotten. Following his selection by the 49ers, McKivitz met with local San Francisco media outlets and some of his quotes were particularly noteworthy.  When describing his style of playing, McKivitz said, "Personally, I think I'm a prick.  I like to get inside guys' heads.  I think that's one of the biggest things.  If I can get him to think about me rather than the offense, then I know I'm winning.  That's the one thing I really enjoy about it." McKivitz, who was the Big 12 Conference Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and a third team Associated Press All American last season, anchored the Mountaineers' offensive line as the left tackle for all twelve games. When asked about making the move from West Virginia to San Francisco, McKivitz said, "I refer to myself as a civilized redneck so it'll be all right." McKivitz hopes to help fill the void left by Joe Staley's surprise retirement announcement yesterday.  Staley, 35, a six-time Pro Bowler and long-time tackle for the 49ers, announced his retirement due to health concerns. Following McKivitz's selection, West Virginia Head Coach Neal Brown posted the following message on Twitter: "Congratulations, Colton!  This opportunity was earned!  I'm excited for you and your family."

Investigation Over

To begin, what is taking West Virginia University so long with their "investigation?"  What kind of investigation could they possibly be doing?  Either defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has said and done what Kerry Martin accused him on Twitter of, or he hasn't. All it takes is calling up a few defensive players and asking.  Here's the investigation that I'd do:  "Hey Darius, how's it going, man?  Did Coach Vic say what Kerry accused him of?  Okay, cool.  Is your brother with you?  Okay great, put him on.  Dante, did you hear Coach Vic say any of this stuff that's on Twitter?  What are the other guys on the team saying?" Done.  Investigation over.  Call up the Stills brothers, see what they say, and then move on from there.  This whole investigation nonsense is ridiculous. Based on the players' reactions on social media, they side with what Kerry Martin said.  None of the players came out and spoke up for Coach Koenning.  And remember, Martin said that "many of his teammates feel uncomfortable with" Koenning. This is not a fixable problem.  Too much has been said and unfortunately the damage is done.  A player-coach relationship is based on trust and respect, and for whatever reason, Koenning has lost that with his players. How could Koenning ever be himself in the locker room or on the practice field ever again with players watching and dissecting his every move and word?  Coaches can't walk on eggshells around their players.  How could he ever get tough with his players when they need someone to be tough with them?  It's just not ever going to work. Although Athletic Director Shane Lyons and West Virginia University will take their time and do their due diligence, they will ultimately decide that Koenning will have to be fired.  They will thank him for his service, wish him well and move on. There is no doubt that Koenning is truly sorry and likely blind-sided by Martin's comments, but there's simply no coming back from something like this.  In his apology on social media yesterday, Koenning said, "We will get through this together and be stronger as a team for it." That sounds like wishful thinking on his part.  Koenning has enjoyed a fantastic career in football, but unfortunately it is now likely over.

The Impact of Fan Responses to Kerry Martin’s Quran Quote

Morgantown, West Virginia - Following West Virginia University's announcement that defensive coordinator Vic Koenning would no longer be retained, sophomore defensive back Kerry Martin, Jr. - at the center of the controversy - immediately posted a quote from the Quran on his social media account.  The Quran is the central religious text of Islam and believed by Muslims to be a revelation from God. Martin's message on social media was perhaps unrelated to Koenning's dismissal, but many people took it as a slap in the face to his former defensive, who was accused of pushing his Christianity on his players. Many West Virginia fans saw this and immediately reacted with anger and vitriol.  Though some were supportive of him, most of the messages were vicious, calling Martin a "crybaby", "an arrogant prick", asking him to "transfer", etc.  Here is a small sampling of the replies he received to his Quran quote from "fans" (name have been removed for privacy):   These were replies sent directly to Kerry Martin, Jr., a young man who was brave enough to speak out against his coach.  This is a lot for anyone to handle but particularly for a 20 year old in the middle of a major university scandal. To be called a "slave owner", to be told to transfer, to be told that you've ruined a man's life, etc, is simply unfair and the worst possible reaction that fans could possibly have during a time like this. Potential recruits are watching.  How are players treated when the going gets tough?  Does the fanbase rally around an in-state player who chose to play for his home state, or do they turn their backs on the players and disown them for a 60 year old white man who has been in the state for one year? Unfortunately, rather than keeping their thoughts and feelings and emotions in check, many people in our fanbase reacted negatively and impulsively.  At a time when West Virginia fans could prove that they are the best, most supportive in the nation, we once again fell short.

WVU Should Pursue This Transfer from James Madison

Today, James Madison all-American safety D’Angelo Amos entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer. The former Duke had a decorated three seasons in Harrisonburg, making a name for himself in the secondary and in the return game. For his JMU career, Amos finished with 135 tackles and two interceptions. His most astonishing statistic was his five punt returns that he returned for touchdowns. With the hit Neal Brown’s secondary has taken with graduations, and Kerry Martin Jr. opting out of the 2020 season, adding Amos as a grad transfer would be huge. Should the Mountaineers pursue D’Angelo Amos for immediate depth? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

BREAKING: Revised 2020 Schedule for WVU Released

Moments ago, the Big 12 Conference released a revised schedule for their 2020 fall football season. Here is WVU’s new Big 12 2020 Football schedule: September 12: vs Eastern Kentucky September 26: at Oklahoma State October 3: vs Baylor October 17: vs Kansas October 24: at Texas Tech October 31: Kansas State November 7: at Texas November 14: vs TCU November 28: vs Oklahoma December 5: at Iowa State  

Opinion: Injuries Cost Austin Kendall His Chance at Stardom at WVU

Though he is said to be a legitimate contender for the starting quarterback position at West Virginia, Austin Kendall is expected to go into the 2020 season as the backup for the Mountaineers. Jarret Doege ended the 2019 season with a strong grip on the job, and Kendall will have to prove his ability to manage the offense to be better to win it back. Easier said than done. While Kendall’s play wasn’t exactly up to par in 2019 — strongly contributing to the team’s five-game losing streak in the middle of the season — this was due to some misfortune for the Oklahoma transfer. If we’re being honest, Kendall didn’t look bad in the season opener against James Madison. He managed the game well, and played a turnover-free game as he led WVU to a 20-13 victory. However, a week two loss to Missouri is where things would begin to go off the tracks for Kendall. The team would suffer a 38-7 defeat at the hands of the Tigers, and Kendall would look shaky in the process. Though his play wasn’t great, many attribute this to an injury Kendall sustained early in the first half. He would cut his hand when being tackled in the first quarter, and this would prove to be the beginning of the end of Kendall’s potential in Morgantown.   His play would clearly be affected by the injury for the rest of the game, and even moving forward. The following week, Kendall would have a solid outing against N.C. State. But any NAIA quarterback could have success against Tony Gibson’s defense. The rumor was that Kendall’s hand would become infected, and he would begin to clearly struggle with the deep ball. It appeared as if he may get back on track against Iowa State. On the first drive, Kendall looked alive. He would evade tacklers, and look like he brought his athleticism to the table that chilly October day. However, the last play of the first drive would finish the day for Kendall as he would suffer an “upper body injury” after being sacked. From this point on, Kendall’s season was virtually over. He would start the next three games. In each contest, Kendall struggled with down the field passes, and finished with three touchdown passes to three interceptions. It was at this point when the team was 3-6 that WVU head coach Neal Brown would decide to make a change. A now healthy Jarret Doege would be inserted into the lineup and make all the difference for WVU. The fact of the matter is that Austin Kendall was only completely healthy for one game the entire season — against JMU. Outside of that, he would battle injuries to areas of the body that could significantly affect his passing abilities. How could someone who looked so solid in the season opener suddenly fall off a cliff? The injuries he sustained are simply the only clear option.   Had we seen a healthy Austin Kendall all season, who knows, he may be the craze of the Big 12 going into 2020. Instead, he caught the “wrong place at the wrong time” bug, and has now had to fight for his collegiate-life all offseason. It is disappointing to say, but Kendall’s stardom at WVU was short-circuited by injuries. The former four-star had all of the talent to be a stud signal-caller in Neal Brown’s offense. He will now be holding a clipboard and wearing a baseball cap on the sidelines this season, and will be pegged as a “what could have been” when his time is over in Morgantown.

WVU is Projected to Face Off Against Familiar Face in Bowl Season

With football season upon us, many outlets are beginning to publish their season predictions, including some bowl projections, for the 2020 season. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports put out his bowl projections recently, and he has the Mountaineers facing off against a familiar coach in late December. Palm has the Mountaineers playing in the Cactus Bowl on December 27th against the Texas State Bobcats — who is now coached by former WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. Spavital accepted the head coaching job at Texas State prior to the conclusion of the 2018 season, and finished with a 3-9 record in 2019.   While virtually no coaches remain from the staff that Spavital was on at WVU, it would be interesting to see him compete against some of his former players in the Old Gold and Blue.   Palm also has the Mountaineers finishing with a 4-6 record for the 2020 season.