WVU Gameday Blog

Friday Feedback

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which now has answers, but also more questions. I’m back from the pre-spring football luncheon, where upon arrival I saw place cards for eight assistant coaches. That’s cool. I could camp near Gibby. But a team has nine assistants. WVU has eight.

Dana Holgorsen talked for about 30 minutes with us, first providing a run down of what’s been happening the past six weeks and then how the positional groups look in spring. He also announced Tony Gibson as his new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, a move made for reasons he explains in the video (basically, it’s wise to have the DC be the linebackers coach because he has to have a feel for what’s happening in front of and behind him).

Everything else was as anticipated. Damon Cogdell has the defensive lineman (and a depth chart because he’s still in the getting-to-know-you phase with his players and had to revert to it to answer questions later) while Brian Mitchell remains with the cornerbacks. Joe DeForest is still in charge of the special teams and is now in charge of safeties again.

So that was that.

Except that WVU now has the eight core positions covered on the team — quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties — and one spot open on the staff. There was not an announcement we thought was coming and, obviously, we have to calibrate our thinking because everything we’ve heard suggested WVU was looking for a defensive line or linebackers coach.

And it would seem that was not grounded in accuracy.

During the above Q&A, Holgorsen was asked what he’d do with that open spot. Dana said he’d hire the “best available” coach, which is the Gumby of replies there. True to that, Dana said he could pick an offensive or defensive guy. Holgorsen said he’s currently vetting possibilities. This is unusual. I’m not going to try to defend it or explain it or criticize it. I’ll just say it’s unusual and new to me. But it’s not  permanent and he said he hopes to have it done next week, which would be useful since practice starts March 2. I don’t believe it’s going to be a G.A. I’m inclined to believe it’s already done, or darn close, and hasn’t cleared all the approval hurdles.

That said, whether it’s imminent or not, I have no idea who it is or where he goes. Things went far enough with Bruce Tall and Phil Galiano that I found out, but maybe things went no further. Maybe WVU became aware of a new possibility and st down that road now. Technically, everything is covered, unusual or not, but room would have to be made for an addition — unless today was all written in pencil. I suppose there could be an outside linebackers coach and Gibby could take the inside guys, or vice versa. I guess there could be a coach for the DE/OLB position to assist Cogdell in his first year or a coach for the OLB/S spot to make DeForest’s duties a little lighter. That’ll be interesting to follow, as it has been thus far.

Two other bit of news, so to speak:

1) Dana said Clint Trickett won’t participate in spring practice. That’s the first official confirmation of what we’d been saying all along. Labrums take time and this is the wisest course, one that also benefits Skyler Howard.

2) We have specific dates for WVU’s open-to-everyone practices that we mentioned earlier. The public and the media is welcome March 22 in Wheeling at Wheeling Island Stadium, March 29 in Morgantown, April 5 in Charleston at Laidley Field and March 12 in Morgantown — that being the spring game. I can’t wait to see how many people who whine about access don’t cover the open practices.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, play it cool.

Foul Shot said:

Get to 18 W’s in the regular season and win two in the Big 12 tourney.
Then, who knows what happens in March Madness, we all have been surprised there before.
It is crazy that we could not watch on TV last night and then have to consider paying for a radio broadcast. Do they have to milk everything from us?

Yes, yes they do. Your counter is to not purchase and to demand a better experience, as watered down as that may seem. In volume, though, it matters. I’m just not sure the volume exists. As for your projection, that leaves WVU at 20-14 and in the 55ish range in the RPI with a top-40 schedule. I don’t know if that does it. That’s the bad. The good is K.C. seems pretty wide open.

smeer said:

a team like Texas exposes our very real weaknesses

not enough beef to push their heavies out of the paint

coupled with our bigs who cannot extend their D out of the paint

if our bigs can’t post, then they need to be able to hit jumpshots – has to be one or the other

with their bigs camped inside on D, it allowed their guards to press up into our guards and defend the perimeter because they have help if driven by

Staten and Harris can drive to their heart’s content and find the ball in the fifth row of the bleachers.

Harris’ only move was a step back jumper.

Staten’s penetration was rebuffed until late in the game

we will have no answers for this until the frosh can hit the weight room.

Mr Minnesota needs to rediscover his jump shot to pull defenders out. I assume he had one to lead the state in scoring.

we will always struggle against teams with round mounds or rebounds

Bingo, but here’s the concern. Baylor has been really good in the paint, and intent on making the most of its size, the past three games. That’s freed up Kenny Cherry, which frees up Brady Heslip, which chased the cat that ate the bird the swallowed the spider that lived in the house that Huggins built. But Baylor will bang away inside and Kansas will bang away inside and that’s really concerning when the weakness is so pronounced. Put it this way: Big stretch for Devin Williams, Brandon Watkins and Kevin Noreen.

ffejbboc said:

We have no inside game. If our perimeter game is not clicking, we have absolutely no chance. The other team will just pack it inside to prevent the penetration drive.

Truth. That’s what Texas did. It looked like Dick Bennet’s pack line defense … which WVU has used on occasion, to little to no fanfare.

Rugger said:

I was told by a friend in Salem who knows Mike Carey real well that Huggs is going to take Noreen’s scholly next season. I understand that this is unreliable gossip but I wonder if Huggs could do it. Let’s face it, Noreen is from Minnesota but he’s no Oshie.

Would you take Noreen’s scholly and make him a GA or something or would you let him finish out of loyalty? Could smeer beat Kevin mano a mano?

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Kevin is done with school by the time next season rolls around. Might not be an issue then.

Drew said:

The student section needs reduced and moved to the end zone. The band needs to be with or adjacent to the student section. LSU’s student section did a lot of great call and response with the golden band. This has been lost at MF@MPS. All the way over near the other end zone I forget they are there half the time. This would be mutually beneficial.

Move the visitors section to the section of the current student section inthe upper deck that is always at least half empty. They don’t need good seats. If we must, give them the current “senior spirit” section which is currently pretty useless.

Otherwise, love sporting events are just declining in attendance universally. Aside from just winning, there isn’t much to do. The cost of money and time is so much greater than a mich improved and widely available tv viewing. I prefer to go to games in person, but it is downright expensive to go. Plus I’m busy and have a toddler so it’s just not always possible anymore. I watch every game still, but I used to go to every (home) game. I still go to a few, but I can enjoy good AND affordable food and beer and watch games in HD without committing an entire day and hundreds of dollars to it. It’s not quite the same, but it often just makes more sense.

Honestly, I have a hard time paying any attention to any plan, or taking seriously any set up, that doesn’t have the students near the playing surface, be it football or basketball. If you don’t start there, you have no business doing anything. It would take some time during the offseason to put seats — hell, more bleachers — in the end zone where the band is and make it open to as many students as possible. Put the band somewhere to the side. Concentrate the rest of the students in the middle of what is now the student section and sell the outside right and left sections of that same upper level to the public. Do students lose some seats? Probably. But 1) are they using them now and 2) don’t they trade up to better seats?

Kevin said:

I agree with Drew. Winning will cure a lot of these problems, but live attendance is sliding because of the cost and the HD big-screen tvs most people have now. I usually don’t make more than one game per year. This may sound bad, but the experience at the game hasn’t offset the commitment I have to make in distance, time and cost enough for me to go more than once a year.

I haven’t seen anybody do the math, but attending live sporting events now reminds me of the housing market in 2000-2008. The cost of getting into the house was increasing much faster than people’s income was. To a point where people couldn’t or wouldn’t buy. Sporting events are heading the same way to some degree.

There’s an underlying part to all of this. The people who can afford the big televisions and who have a man cave, the people who have kids or who have the ability to be discerning are the generation that’s moving on and has to be replaced. It’s cyclical. Nothing new there. But schools are really worried about how loose their grip is on that next generation. That has to change.

Mack said:

“Students at OU and OSU have to buy their tickets each semester…..and that’s not a guaranteed seat — I’m certain they oversell ”

WVU has the activities fee which they “sell” to every single student, but I don’t think students have the option to decline it. If they do, then 99% pay the fee without ever thinking (or knowing) about it. Tickets to the football games are obviously a big part of the fee.

I’m curious as to what people think the real reason that students don’t go to the games. Has it truly declined over the years? Everyone always says “When I was at the games, the student section was a lot better.” When I was in school, the student section was always fun, but there were the same empty spots that you see on television.

The strange part is that the enrollment keeps going up and up and up, but the student attendance at the games isn’t going up.

To be honest, I don’t see that big a problem with students not going to the games. They’re not going because they’ve found something better to do. It’s the university’s obligation to make the games more attractive to the students. I would imagine that living downtown, the thought of taking the PRT to the games is probably keeping a lot of students away… you’re basically killing the entire day.

Last paragraph is huge. I think a lot of schools are stuck in this frame of mind: “Of course they’re going to come. It’s a home game. What else are they going to do?” And they think kids are going to go above and beyond to get to the games. That’s not the case. There are better options, and a prickly one is “Staying home is less of a hassle.” I thought Elvis Moya pinned that down pretty good on Scoop & Score. Said it’s up to the school to generate interest and then literally deliver that interest to the stadium or the arena.

Jeff in Akron said:

In my opinion, the number one factor in declining attendance is fans are no longer allowed to leave at halftime. There is an entire segment of the fan base that has known nothing else since the stadium was built. I have a hunch that works for the students too.

That 5-0 start in 2012 is a long time ago too. Off the top of my head, 6-14 in your last 20 games is gonna have an adverse effect on season ticket sales.

Maybe I’m over-simplifying the problem, but I’d be interested to see what the numbers look like in say 5,6, or 7 years. Once the change has had a chance to work itself through the fan base…

Essentially, Luck has changed his target demographic with the decision to close the gates at halftime. While those that found the reduction in freedom are quick to cancel their tickets, those that find that particular development appealing have not kept up with the cancellations. Growing up I went to games all the time, I just don’t remember a lot of people my age in the stands. I believe Luck is attempting to change that. Suddenly, Mountaineer football games are about watching the games and the experience inside the stadium, instead of the experience in the Blue Lot.

Change of this type often takes time to generate an accurate analysis. Initially, the numbers will look bad and over the short term the trend can look even worse. What happens over the long term can be entirely different than what those numbers seem to predict.

Again, I could be completely off.

No, I think that’s an interesting point we probably haven’t considered as often as we may need to. WVU hasn’t applied a lot of quick fixes and, silly as it may sound, patience takes time. But I think we also have to consider something else people talk about all the time here: There are no pro sports. There are no other alternatives. Some things should take hold quicker and some trends should be taken more seriously. That unique element here does go both ways.

oklahoma mountaineer said:

Mack, I hear you on the activities fees — only problem is that the Oklahoma schools have those as well…..when I asked about them, I was told that helps to pay for the non-revenue sports as well as their activity centers that are similar to the new activities built over near the Towers.

Trust me, the packing of the stadium during my years at WVU (from memory) was greater for football. I’m not sure that’s true for basketball as we were in the A10 and were not consistently good.

I don’t know I buy the no re-entry being an issue — that’s a policy at OU and about to be implemented at OSU as well.

TV availability of darn near every game and the quality of the TV experience compared to the cost is what I think has changed the dynamic. I can sit in my living room, rewind, watch replays, and eat my own food at significantly less than the price of the ticket.

Tickets for OU have went from $35 a game to $95 a game over the last 12-15 years. That’s a lot of inflation — I don’t think the WVU tickets have went up that much but there’s still a double in the same period.

I read a story that the only professional league that has not seen a decrease in attendance is the NHL — I think that is a result of the fact that the TV experience is not nearly as good as being there and the fact that they are not as readily accessible for fans at home.

TV, man. TV. You nailed it. At minimum, they have to pump constant highlights through the big screen. There are always two or three other big games on when WVU plays and that scoreboard in the Touchdown Terrace end zone is always well behind real time.

lowercase jeff said:

lower the ticket prices substantially
reduce student seats
get competitive*

*this is a problem. in college football, there are only two ways to have BIG games. 1) be in line for your conference’s bcs bid. 2) have rivalries. we are a miles, figuratively and literally, away from either of those.

It’s not hard, folks!

* Damn, maybe it is.

Mack said:

Clint Trickett tweeting with fake Holgorsen is one of my favorite things in the history of sport.

It’s riveting. And don’t tell anybody, but I’m determined to do a story on this in the spring. It’s right up my alley.

ffejbboc said:

The Fake Bob Huggins needs to step up his game! Maybe start a back and forth twitter convo with Eron Harris?

That’d be interesting, and can you imagine what Harris might say? But it’s not very original and, above all else, Fake Bob Huggins is mad original.

Mack said:

I’ve followed Fake Holgs and Fake Huggs for a while. It seems that Fake Holgs cares less about being considered a negative to the program than Huggins. In other words, Fake Huggins seems to be a WVU fan. I have no doubt that Fake Holgs is also a fan . . . but he cares more about making a good joke than he does about who will be offended or whether it will be seen as criticizing WVU. In my book, Fake Holgs is light years ahead of Fake Huggs.

Fair. Fake Huggins seems to have a reverence, which I like. But Faux Dana has a recklessness I like, too. Those are positives. They’re both good and better than many parodies. I think they’re both funny. I like that Faux Dana has reached a state of legitimacy by interacting with real players. I mean, if you’re going to exist as a parody, you have to make it real. Fake Bob puts some time and thought into his work, though. It’s pretty unique — and Real Huggins mentioned Fake Huggins on his show Thursday. Real Dana has not mentioned Faux Dana. Also, I love that we can have that conversation.

Mack said:

Name a sexier coach than Bob Huggins. You can’t.

We went to a weird place this week. Even by our standards.

glibglub said:

What, no Rick Pitino? His omission is inde-sypher-able.

I don’t get it. 

Drew said:

Pitino has already had his 15 seconds of fame in that regard.


Parks said:

Are you kidding me Hertz?! No J-FLow? That list is a joke. Also, Liz Repella is way too low..

OK, here’s weird. I was thinking of a specific comparison and I couldn’t quite pull it. And then …

I love you, Doug! said:

Parks nails it. John Flowers was our Andre 3000. Game, set, match.


jtmountaineer said:

Any such list without a gymnast lacks legitimacy.

Hertz clarified via Twitter. Football and the basketballs.

The VLC said:

You absolutely HAVE to get Mickey in on this spring football coverage. Would love to hear him grouse about not being able to sit in the stands and watch every single thing that happens. After all, that’s how it was in the 1890′s!!!!

Seriously though, what about Mitch Vingle and Geoff Coyle for the spring preview?

“A pod what? The hell is that? Scoop and who?” And no Mitch. We’re competitors. Sorry. Coyle is a strong possibility. I thought he was great his first time. And I have beef I need to address, maybe out in the open. Other possibilities: Hertz, Tony Dobies, Mike Carvelli, McGill, Colin. I’m mulling. 

Drew said:

Get Not Dana Holgorsen and alter their voice so no one recognizes them.

On a serious note, get Jed Drenning. He’s the best X&O analyst associated with WVU football.

I’d pick Jed in a hurry, but he’s got a 9-to-5.

Parks said:

I second the Geoff Coyle nomination and would love to see Dave Ubben back on as well.

Ubben would be good, but I want to lock it in on WVU. Maybe later in the spring?

jtmountaineer said:

Hertz couldn’t put Meg Bulger first because he didn’t want to seem like a creep, but let’s not kid ourselves, the list begins and ends with Meg Bulger.

And back to weird. But not incorrect. About Hertz, I mean. I’ll stop.

Kevin said:

Wasn’t there a holder during the Rich Rod days the ladies really liked? George Sh… Can’t remember his name, but remember girls holding up “Hold me, George” signs at the games.

I would love it if Smart Football would be a part of the round table.

George Shehl. And I’ve got a plan for Smart. You’ll like it. Also, loooong summer, guys.

Kate said:

As a female WVU fan, the sexiest WVU football player I can remember in the past 10-years was Mike Lorello.

Heads are nodding in agreement. OR SO I HEAR.

Whipple said:

No one in the top 15 has been in a Turkish Axe Hair commercial.

Amanda Cicchini has.


This entire list is invalid.

I already said football and the basketballs. I’m only including this because I think it’s pretty awesome she got to do that commercial. Also, she’s Amanda Payne now. Yes.

avb31 said:

The fact that this list even exists is creepy. I could have gotten along just fine not on knowing that Hertz can’t deny the sex appeal of Joe Alexander and Pat White.

Enjoy the weekend!