I am a lifelong WVU Mountaineer fan, and yes, I get just as upset as the coaches and other fans when they lose, but every now and then I have to take a step back and take a close look at the program.
It doesn’t matter if you are fan or an analyst, neither know what is going on behind the scenes or on the sidelines. Since all we can do is speculate, our analysis comes from the performance we see on the field.
Whether I’m for or against Head Coach Dana Holgorsen is irrelevant. What I want to do here is simply take a look at the facts I know to be true.
Since Rich Rodriguez left WVU, the coaching staff has to been in a complete state of flux with changes every year. Many of the football players have had three to four different position coaches.
Those of you who have played football and undergone a position coach change know how hard this is, and these players have even had four defensive coordinators.
If you check the top 25 ranked teams, you will notice that their coaching staffs usually have been in place for several years. Stability on the coaching staff is critical to recruiting and developing winning teams. Each position coach seeks a different type and style of player.
I can assure you that Coach Crook and Coach Bedenbaugh do not look for the same qualities when recruiting offensive linemen. While many players appear similar, there are many different things they look for in a player they are recruiting for the offensive line. And the same can be said about any position coach.
Coaches must also get along and work together. The same camaraderie has to exist between the coaches as well as between the players, and between the players and coaches. It has always be about the betterment of the team and the sacrifices everyone is willing to make. Once it becomes about I, there is never a team.
There are fans that want Dana Holgorsen gone. Some want Rich Rodriguez back, and many want rid of Coach Joe DeForest. Or do they? I’d be willing to bet that none of this is actually true.
What the fans want is to see WVU finally win the Big XII and a national title. This is what the fans really want. The problem is, they want it yesterday.
If you look back at all the successful teams throughout college football history, they have had successful coaches. They have all won national titles and in doing so created a product name that was known for great teams and great coaches.
Even Nick Saban did not put Alabama on the football map, Coach Bear Bryant did. Saban came into a well-established brand that was down and took it back to its glory days. The same can be said about Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, and the list goes on.
When these teams were establishing themselves, WVU was little more than a blimp on the radar. While Don Nehlen elevated the play of the Mountaineers and took them to an NCAA title game, neither he nor WVU was established as a brand.
Being there once is not enough. You have to win. Then came Rich Rodriguez and his spread dual threat offense, and he gave WVU some flair and recognition, but he never took them to a title game.
Today, fans want to see WVU branded and to see them in contention year after year for Big XII and NCAA titles. This is what WVU has to do to create and maintain a winning brand: Brands are created when teams are successful for decades, not once every 10 to 25 years. Brands become marketable and increase budgets, and more importantly bring in profits and large donations. This is a slow process.
If Holgorsen can stabilize his coaching staff and they continue to work together, WVU has a good chance to create such a brand. But to throw out the baby with the bath water, and not give these coaches a chance is nothing more than a major waste of time, money, and effort. To start this process all over, WVU would just set itself further back in its efforts.
If WVU fails to win another game this season, it has already won two more games than last season and secured a bowl bid. That is progress. We have seen a much improved defense this season. No, it hasn’t been perfect, but it is much better. We have also seen improved recruiting under Holgorsen. To call for his head and that of his coaches at this point makes no sense.
The key to branding as far as WVU is concerned, means two things have to happen. (1) Stability on the coaching staff and (2) continued recruiting improvement. These two things will help feed WVU’s income, which is something they will need now that they have to pay the players.
While WV does not have an NFL Team, neither does Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, etc. But WV has two NFL teams in close proximity with the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The next few years will be critical to WVU. I believe the Mountaineers are close to establishing and creating their own niche in the college football world.
The growing pains of fans reminds me the labor pains a mother-to-be goes through. It hurts like hell, but in time this too will cease. What we fans have to do is be supportive and be patient. I know it’s hard, for we’re tired of waiting. What we cannot do is turn our backs and let the baby slip down the drain.