I’m sold on WVU’s new assistants
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011 21:02
The last couple months have been hectic for the West Virginia football program.
There is little doubt about that.
First came the coaching changes that shook Morgantown, as West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck made the move to hire Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator in 2011 and head coach-in-waiting for the 2012 season. He will take over for current head coach Bill Stewart then, who will leave following next season.
Then, the Mountaineers put on an uninspired performance in the Champs Sports Bowl against N.C. State, which would end in a 23-7 loss to the Wolfpack. That loss ended what was a dominating year for the WVU defense and a disappointing one for the Mountaineers' offense.
Quickly after WVU's bowl game, new offensive assistants were brought in at Holgorsen's discretion. He had $2 million to spend on these new hires.
Most recently, the new offensive coaching staff completed its recruiting run to National Letter of Intent Day, and finally, the coaches are beginning their preparations for the 2011 season.
The media met with Holgorsen and his offensive assistants for the first time since their hiring Wednesday and Thursday, and, let me tell you, it was something to behold.
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie, inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and Holgorsen are a band of brothers this program dearly needed and will undoubtedly require in the upcoming season.
The coaches seemed to have a bond akin to four old college buddies who were getting back together after a good amount of time spent apart.
The new quartet of coaches brought something to the table the previous staff had not.
Simply put, they were on the same page.
There was no doubt Holgorsen was the leader of the bunch.
There certainly was not the odd vibe that hung in the air during last season, and, most importantly, there was no split over the philosophy of the team.
This year, each assistant took his respective job knowing full well the coaching situation at WVU was awkward because of the fact Stewart and the defensive staff would holdover for the 2011 season.
However, that was the least of the new assistants' worries.
These men want to do what could not be accomplished last season, and that is to return the Mountaineers' offense to its spot among the nation's elite.
No longer is it acceptable to just do enough to get by. The goal is more than just a Big East Conference championship now.
This staff will ask its student-athletes to push the envelope for the entire 60 minutes on offense.
Dawson, who's assignment is to coach the inside receivers, may have been the shining star of the day on Thursday, as he spoke glowingly about his admiration for this offense and what to expect next season from the Mountaineers.
"I would not want to coach in any other offense, and I would not have it any other way," Dawson said. "On a regular day, with our tempo, we are going to run 85-90 plays per game."
It may be just a simple quote, but it is a refreshing signal of the unity of this offensive staff – and the high expectations it has for what's to come.
Expect the energy and liveliness of years past to make a quick return to Mountaineer Field on Saturday afternoons this fall.
This group is here to not only walk away victorious but also to do it in a fashion never before seen at WVU.