MORGANTOWN, WV – It has been quite a challenging year for WVU Interim Head Coach Josh Eilert. After replacing the legendary Bob Huggins, Eilert has seen his Mountaineers suffer injuries, suspensions, and asinine NCAA rulings en route to an 8-15 record. At this point in time, it is hard to imagine that he will get any serious consideration for the permanent head coaching job with the Mountaineers. With that being said, it is hard to judge Eilert solely based on this season.
The 2023-24 men’s basketball season was never one set up for success for the Mountaineers. After the incident that resulted in Bob Huggins’ resignation back in June 2023, things quickly started spiraling out of control. Much of the roster entered the transfer portal, there were serious questions over which direction the program would go at head coach, and the narrative surrounding the program had never been more negative.
In steps Eilert to navigate the program through these perilous waters for one season. For the most part, he has done an incredible job keeping the team afloat to this point. However, the sails seem to be failing, and now this boat veering towards rapids it has not seen during the entirety of its existence. The worst record the Mountaineer Men’s Basketball program has ever recorded is well within reach.
If West Virginia loses the final 8 games of the season – and they will be underdogs in every game remaining – they will finish 8-23, which would be the worst record in program history. #WVU
— The Voice of Morgantown (@voicemorgantown) February 10, 2024
Despite the porous play, which can rightfully be placed on the leader of the program, any other judgement on Eilert simply cannot be justified. Not many coaches around college basketball would have found success given the circumstances in Morgantown this season. Especially a first-year, first-time head coach in Eilert.
Coaching college athletics at this level is no easy task to begin with. So mixing the already established difficulty with a monsoon of issues, the hill was simply too great for Eilert to handle at this point.
This does not, however, open Eilert up for the harsh criticisms he has received from the fanbase to this point. Sure, the frustrations are evident, but what more could have been asked for this season? A winning record and NCAA Tournament appearance would have been nothing short of a miracle.
Fans will say what they want to about this coaching staff and their leader. That’s fine – that is their right. But it is hard to argue against the fact that Eilert simply deserved better in his first head coaching effort. Nobody should be expected to clean up a mess that was not theirs, but that is exactly what he has done. This program could have easily reached depths that could have set the program back several years.
Eilert stepped in, and has done the best he can. It’s unlikely that he will be the head coach next season, but this does not mean that fans should cast him out like a complete and utter failure. He has conducted himself with grace and a positive attitude despite all of the turmoil. That deserves respect unending. Even from a fanbase that has very little to go around.
(Photo by WVU Athletics)