WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Welcome to the silly season

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scrapWe thought we’d escaped it, or at least gotten off easily as Erik Slaughter’s exit was tidily repaired by the addition of Damon Cogdell, but yesterday proved one thing once again …

Let me fill this layover by going over a few things, beginning with the Twitter activities of Dana Holgorsen, who he’s following and why.

– Even the cynic in me has to pay a little attention to this sequence of events: Keith Patterson leaves WVU, Dana Holgorsen follows Tommy Bradley on Twitter.

It makes sense, and I hope by now you know how I feel about coincidences and whether they exist.

That said, don’t get your hopes up and don’t begin to attempt to reconcile whatever issues you have with Bradley being at Penn State when Penn State happened.

It is almost certainly not going to happen. I haven’t spoken to anyone who thinks there’s anything to it. I’ve spoken to people who said Bradley has let anyone know who has inquired that he’s content doing what he’s doing now and isn’t interested in coaching.

I will hedge just a little — “almost certainly” — because just because, but because perhaps Bradley one day wants to get back into the business. But we’re not exactly early in the offseason, and before it began Bradley flew his flag. I doubt very much his feelings have changed.

– Holgorsen also followed Zac Spavital on Twitter, and I guess this is a thing now. Like FlightAware.com. People, and especially coaches, do communicate through direct messages. I kind of secretly hope this is subterfuge by Holgorsen and he’s wagging the dog here. What if he follows Jeff Casteel tomorrow? Or Buddy Ryan? I wholeheartedly endorse this, if not to throw people off his scent, than to make my timeline extraordinarily extraordinary.

– Here’s the thing about Tony Gibson and his candidacy. I would call him “a” leading candidate, as opposed to “the” leading candidate. He’s the in-house leader, but Dana, in all likelihood, has to go out and hire someone just to complete his staff (I hedge here because he has graduate assistants and Steve Dunlap and, really, would anything truly surprise you?).

It’s been a day since Patterson left. There’s going to be interest at various levels and that takes time to discover or generate and to vet. It’s not impossible that a home run hitter comes forward that’s either on another staff or a free agent. So to people who say, “Why not announce Gibby now?” there’s your answer. A better option might be out there — and WVU was paying Patterson $500,000 — but it would appear WVU is at least of the mind that Gibby isn’t a bad option and is thus a leading candidate.

– I don’t get the feeling promoting Gibby is a universally popular idea. Here are his selling points, purely from a coaching standpoint: He and Patterson spoke the same language. Dana hired and later promoted Patterson because Patterson ran the defense Dana wanted to run in the Big 12. Dana later hired Gibby partly because Patterson liked working with Gibby and because the head coach and defensive coordinator knew there’d be one more voice in the meeting room who knew what to say and what was being said. So now, pretty close to the start of spring football, Dana has a chance to foster some continuity and boost the guy who talks and thinks most like the guy who just left.

Now, the negatives? There is a doubt about whether Gibby can, you know, coach. Never mind coordinate. That’s been around ever since his first spell at WVU. Here’s what I can tell you about that: Since he left WVU, he’s worked for Scott Shafer, Greg Robinson, Keith Patterson (and Todd Graham) and Jeff Casteel. That’s not bad. I have a hard, hard time believing Gibby hasn’t learned from those people and become a better coach in the past six years.

Can he coach and coordinate? I guess we might find out once and for all.

– Patterson is the defensive coordinator, the linebackers coach and the defensive special teams coach at Arizona State. I have to think that’s a relief for Holgorsen. He didn’t lose his defensive coordinator to be a position coach. So today, with questions answered, Patterson moved to run a the defense for an up-and-coming Pac-12 program to work with a guy he’s known for 20 years and has worked with three times before. That’s a better look for WVU than it was yesterday.

– Here’s something someone reminded me of, and though it may mean nothing, it’s nevertheless interesting. Patterson was Pitt’s interim coach for the bowl game after Graham left for ASU. He didn’t go with Graham and Graham filled his staff. Patterson landed at Arkansas State on Gus Malzahn’s staff, reuniting again with an old friend (they were together at Tulsa in 2007-08 and Patterson was smitten with Malzahn and the things he could do and Patterson knew he was on the way up). Dana then talked Patterson into coming to WVU before he ever really got to work at Arkansas State. Malzahn, of course, spent one season at Arkansas State, moved on to Auburn and nearly won a national title last season. You do have to wonder if that sort of thing affects Patterson and his career-oriented thinking.

– Some of the people I’ve talked to were at or know of the AFCA convention late last month. Dana was there, I think, for one day, and the feeling a lot of people had was that WVU at last had everyone going in the right direction. A few people, though, suspected Patterson was coveted by ASU. It seems what happened yesterday was not a surprise and was pushed behind signing day for obvious reasons.

– Who does Dana want to hire? We don’t know that. We do know what he wants to hire. What I gather is the hire will be a defensive line coach, which would make Cogdell a linebackers coach, which makes sense. That said, who knows? Cogdell could coach the defensive line, and he had been telling recruits that. But maybe he didn’t know about Patterson leaving, or wasn’t allowed to tell, and it was otherwise known Patterson would leave and Cogdell would coach linebackers. But maybe he was being honest. Then WVU hires a linebackers coach.

Anyhow, ideally, the person has experience in the Big 12, or at least at a place accustom to the offenses WVU will confront in the Big 12. Truth be told, that’s pretty broad these days, so I don’t automatically believe the person has to have Big 12 roots.

Not a lot of certainty there, huh? But I really don’t get the feeling the hire has to have a strong tie, or a tie at all, to WVU or the state. It’s a bonus, for sure, but not a necessity.

– Chuck McGill did a nice job today explaining why that may be the case.

pnocker 40 said:

Maybe defensive coordinator is one of those “special assignments” for Mike Parsons

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ll probably steal that one for conversation. I’m in the U.S. Air lounge in Charlotte and have already stolen the pilot story from “Good Will Hunting.” Got 90 minutes before we board, too.

– That was a red LFC team jacket. Red. Jerks.

The 25314 said:

For the “WVU will never be great” crowd, look at Stanford.

They had only 7 winning years in 28 seasons, from 1981-2008. When Jim Harbaugh arrived, he was their 4th head coach in 7 seasons. Stanford was a Pac-10 doormat, and never brought in top 25 classes.

They’ve now been to four straight BCS bowl games and have top 25 classes every season. And that’s with the high academic standards at Stanford, which Duke and Notre Dame would want you to believe are prohibitive of winning.

If Stanford, who was a laughing stock of football just 7 years ago, can become a power with the right coach, anyone can.

Yeah, deep breaths, folks. There are too many people who are really good at football these days to get down and stay down.

– Finally, I’m going to miss the hell out of of Patterson. Long story short, when Holgorsen was hired, I became very aware I had to learn about Xs and Ox and football theory and philosophy and the like because I knew I’d have to speak the language of the staff. But that was on offense because WVU’s defensive coaches, led by Jeff Casteel, were extremely reluctant to talk about things.

Patterson forced me to lean about defense because he sincerely wanted to talk to us. Allan Taylor, Jed Drenning and I must have spent hours with Patterson after games or practices or interview sessions when Patterson just wouldn’t leave and wanted to ask and to answer questions and just talk football. That does not happen. Farewell, Keith.