West Virginia University is doing its due diligence by investigating accusations from Kerry Martin, Jr. against Mountaineer defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Martin, of course, claimed that Koeninng made him uncomfortable on many occasions and demanded change within the program.
If Koenning returns:
Under this scenario, Koenning’s return would almost certainly mean the loss of current players and/or future potential recruits. Several players supported Martin’s message, retweeting it and telling him to speak his truth.
Although Neal Brown has done everything right in his first year with the Mountaineers, building a culture around inclusiveness and togetherness, this scandal will almost certainly cause some division within the program. In his apology released on social media, Koenning claimed that “we will get through this together and be stronger as a team for it.”
This is a very optimistic, naive viewpoint from Koenning and unfortunately this issue is not something that will be fixed with a mere apology. Martin’s accusations are deep and serious, and even if Martin returns to West Virginia with Koenning as his defensive coordinator, it’s unlikely that their relationship will ever be the same. The bond between coach and player is built on trust and respect, and both have been lost during in the past week.
With that said, if Koenning returns, Martin leaving seems inevitable. Losing Martin would be significant, as he was named to the Pro Football Focus All-Freshman 3rd team last year, playing in 12 games and starting four, compiling 50 tackles (6th on the team), 2.5 tackles for loss and five pass breakups.
In addition, if Koenning remains the defensive coordinator, Martin’s comments on Twitter will almost certainly affect recruiting as well. Players that West Virginia is recruiting have the option of playing at several schools. If West Virginia and another school are otherwise even for a recruit, would they choose West Virginia or the other school that doesn’t have a coach on staff that was accused by players of making them uncomfortable? Obviously, the other school.
If Koenning is fired:
Kerry Martin, Jr. will return, other current players will remain on the team, and recruits will see that West Virginia means business when it comes to their players being treated well. The change that Martin asked for and many other players supported would be fulfilled, and that would be an opportunity for a fresh start with a new defensive coordinator that can better relate to his players.
Although what Koenning is accused of might fall short of deserving to be fired in the eyes of many people, his dismissal is certainly what’s best for the team at this point. Allowing him to return will only cause confusion and more unrest within the program. It’s a really unfortunate situation and a particularly unpleasant way for Koenning to finish his career, but a fresh start with a new, younger defensive coordinator is what is needed for the Mountaineers.