New assistants forced to make quick transition
Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 23:02
West Virginia's new running game coordinator Robert Gillespie knows how to get to the Puskar Center and back to his hotel room in the Residence Inn.
"Other than that, these roads just twist and turn. So, I don't know where I'm going half the time," he said.
That's basically all the time he and the new assistant coaches for the WVU football program have right now.
That's probably the reason new offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen has a refrigerator filled with energy drinks in his office, too.
"I'm here 14 hours a day, and then I go to the Residence Inn," Holgorsen said.
The new coaches have been on the road for much of the time since they were hired at WVU.
It's been a particularly busy month and a half for Holgorsen, who after finishing coaching his last game for Oklahoma State had to hire four assistant coaches and immediately jump on the recruiting trail. Through all of that, he even had an opportunity to catch the first half of two men's basketball games.
Holgorsen met with starting quarterback Geno Smith on Jan. 6 to discuss the future. The ex-Oklahoma State offensive coordinator described his new starting quarterback as quiet but aware of his surroundings and what being a quarterback is all about.
"He shows tremendous leadership," Holgorsen said. "You can see people gravitate toward him, and he wins football games."
He also met with receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney when he was in Florida on a recruiting trip.
"I met them at their school for 30 minutes or so just to meet them, introduce myself and reassure them that everything would be just fine," Holgorsen said. "Life goes on. The University is bigger than any one person."
Despite the potential awkward coaching situation this season, the coaches haven't had time to allow it to be anything less than professional. In fact, it could be that way all season long.
"It's been a smooth transition. This month has been good to meet these guys and get to know them. Everyone has a lot of good ideas. That's the reason I wanted to come here," Gillespie said. "I know Coach Holgorsen understood what he was coming into, so if he was comfortable with it, I was comfortable with it. (WVU head coach Bill Stewart) has been great. I look forward to working with him and getting to know him. He's been welcoming to us, and it's been a great transition."
Gillespie even went as far as to say the transition between the old coaching staff and the new coaching staff was overplayed throughout the last month and a half.
"The people inside of these walls, we know what's going on," he said. "So far, it's been great."
Now, the new coaching staff has the task of installing a new offense prior to spring practice. Holgorsen said he could do so in three days, but finding the right group of players will take a bit of time.
"They're all excited to be a part of an offensive system that has produced over the last 11 years," Holgorsen said. "It doesn't mean things are just going to take care of themselves, though. The key to the whole equation is to learn it and work hard."
Part of that process of installing the offense is getting to know the players the new coaches have to use. So far, the coaches have met with their respective players individually and as a group, but they say the evaluation period will begin this month by watching tapes and during spring practice.
"I know them by name and face," Gillespie said of his running backs. "But, to know what they do well and what they need to do to get better, I just don't know yet.
"It's all about putting the guys on the field that can make plays. We're going to put the best playmaker on the field, and if we don't have one, we're going to go get one."