WVU Gameday Blog

Friday Feedback

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which is afraid it has some bad news for you today. WVU released its spring football schedule yesterday and it’s not good for Tier 4. I’m bummed, man.

Ten of the practices are closed. No public, no media, which means no watching, no interviews and, I’m sorry, no reports. I don’t know how to commentate on what I can’t see. It’s like covering a game and not knowing who’s playing.

One of the open practices is actually the spring game and another is the opener Sunday, where we’re allowed to watch for 30 minutes. Dana Holgorsen will speak to us before that practice, which seems weird because he did that last Friday, but, whatever. I need the head coach, right? I’ll do something Sunday night, for sure, but it’s going to be tough after that.

Four of the open practices are open to the public, which I still think is really cool, but one is the spring game. I’m looking at this schedule and I realize I have 41 days to cover before the spring game and only four chances to see the team and six opportunities to talk to the head coach and his assistants and players.

Given my job, and my interest in seeing this team work toward being better, which I’ve thought for a while would happen, it bums me out I can’t see it and share it with you. Not going to apologize for that, either.

And here’s the weird and awesome part: The schedule is actually Exhibit A through Z for what I was talking about in my opener on Scoop & Score yesterday … before the schedule came out. Beyond that, though, I’m glad I got Stephen Nesbitt and Geoff Coyle on there for the spring preview round table. Here’s the link to the podcast and that’s probably the most you’re going to hear me talk about spring football this year. And I hope you enjoy it because I think it was pretty good. Actual opinions are found within and they aren’t weak. Listen to it. Share it. Debate it. Comment on it.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, be real.

Patchy said:

Hallelujah! Gibby is an acquaintance/friend but Bradley is a friend of a friend and universally respected (or as much as is possible in this game). He was, in Herman Wouk’s phrase ‘the last captain of the Caine’ and, while nominally given control of the program for a spell, was only commissioned to drive the ship into the scrapyard.

His radio work for the Steelers network has been impressive both for the Xs & Os and for his insight into the mentality of the coaches before, during and after games.

The word panic is not in his vocabulary and hopefully his sense of calm borne of experience will be a steadying influence on the rest of the program including the offense and, yes, the head coach.

Opinions vary on Bradley, but I’m on this side of the line. Given the reality of the situation and considering plausible outcomes, getting Tom Bradley has to be close to ideal. But we can disagree. And we will …

avb31 said:

I hate this hire. Absolutely hate it. This won’t be the popular opinion on this forum, but I just don’t like it.

I like this forum and I don’t want to engage in a back and forth over my opinion of this hire… I’ll just hang up and listen.


Clarence Oveur said:


I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I’m skeptical as all hell.

I want to believe that Bradley isn’t a dinosaur who will run a defensive scheme that doesn’t fit against Big 12 offenses. I want to believe that…

I’d like to know, for certain, where he’s going to work and what he’s going to do. I’ll go from there. The “who” is one thing here, but “what” and the “how” are others.

Philip said:

i agree with patchy. bradley could provide the elder statesman role luck envisioned — hoped for — with the “head-coach-in-waiting” arrangement back in 2010. a steadying, seasoned hand on deck to serve as sounding board could do wonders for a young coach in the rough.

That’s where I’m at with this. There’s a new defensive line coach, a new linebackers coach/defensive coordinator and a safeties coach who is back after he was demoted two seasons ago. Bradley coached the defensive line and safeties at different times and was the defensive coordinator at Penn State, which many refer to as Linebacker U. Plus, I think we can agree WVU could use a veteran presence even for things like timeouts, clock management and challenges, but also for larger and more important things.

Karl said:

I feel confident Bradley won’t field the worst defense in Mountaineer history. That alone would be an improvement.

Silver lining!

smeer said:

time will tell. I think it’s a ballsy move to go after and woo a veteran hall-of-fame DCoordinator. The guy has pedigree and a resume second to none.

as Clarence shared, we don’t know if he still has “it,” though I don’t expect that two years out has dumbed him down. One more veteran voice should help not hurt – especially with a new DC and a fresh our of HS O-line coach.

Which gets to the issue of chemistry. It sounds like Gibby and Bradley have it and that bodes well. Of course it could be different in the heat of battle in a half-time locker room. There will always be a level of professionalism amongst them – but I wold hope for more than that – a group that really complements and conflicts (problem solving and arguing absent of ego)and schemes well together.

And Bradley has faced no gauntlet in his years at PSU like he will face in the B12. My hunch is he likes this challenge – he wants to be part of a stamp that can slow down and maybe even get a stop.

He had other offers and that says something about Luck and DH being influencers/good car salesmen.

And I can imagine how he will improve our recruiting – Give him PA and NJ? gonna need it going up against Franklin’s hounds at PSU.

There should be no talk of him coming from a tainted PSU program. PSU cleaned house when the JoePa scandal broke and Bradley stayed as interim – that – on the surface” tells me PSU vetted him and we should be able to rest easy.

I like it from 50,000 feet but don’t have a crystal ball.

I think the recruiting thing is interesting especially as it relates to his area. The Penn State staff says it’s going to own the area. Ohio State is digging in again. Pitt is doing really well. And, again, the 2015 class in Pennsylvania is loaded. It’s fair to wonder what weight Bradley’s came still carries, but I doubt it’s lost all or most of its meaning and influence. He knows the programs and the coaches and vice versa. All the chemistry and convenience stuff, though, is debatable right now. Bradley could probably claim close friends at a lot of programs. I think that WVU was persistent (did he say “No thanks” to replacing Slaughter under Patterson? Was working with Gibby without Patterson more amenable?) and that it’s closer to home (I’ve heard UCLA really wanted him) were influential in the end. It’s inviting for a person like him in his situation. Low risk, potentially high reward.

Clarence Oveur said:

Once again we’re back to emphasizing coaching over personnel despite several pieces of evidence suggesting the latter has a lot to do with the former looking good/bad.


I see that, but Bradley’s different than the other coaches brought aboard. Specifically, I don’t see a lot of debate about his worth, his skill, his results, his potential. And he can recruit, too. But to me, it looks like an investment. I’m not sure he’ll jump to another job and I think he can help the roster and the staff over a period of years. It can help right away, don’t get me wrong, but I think it speaks to a long-term idea, too.

The 25314 said:

If X’s and O’s don’t matter than why is Dana Holgorsen our head coach? He’s not a recruiter. And why do coaches make 6 and 7 figures? And why do they hold practices and study film? And why do the same players have different results under different coaches?

Bradley is a home run hire if he’s running the defense. Every one of his D’s at PSU were exponentially better than any of Holgorsen’s defenses. He’d rectify the bill of goods Luck sold us about an ace Offensive mind paired with an ace D mind (Casteel). However, if he’s taking orders from Tony Gibson, I have to question Holgorsen’s sanity.

Not sure he said they don’t matter, but rather that players have to work to make the plans work. What has Holgorsen said the past two years? What did Patterson say last year? Mostly that players were making mistakes and not executing, or that the coaches couldn’t do what they wanted to do with the available players. I don’t think anyone thinks a coach can make it if he doesn’t know what to do. Bu I get the point, and it’s a very big one here: Relative to a job description, Bradley is a really good name to plug in here. It passes the public approval test, though not with a perfect score. But I still need to see exactly what he’ll do. If he is the linebackers coach, then is Gibby the DC for the first time at this level, plus a top recruiter? I guess I’m OK with that. How full can his plate be before you worry, you know? I’m just surprised that Bradley is a well-regarded safeties coach and Gibby, apparently, wanted DeForest as his safeties coach. Then again, DeForest has a year left on his deal. Bradley has two.  My point is there is a lot yet unwritten.

Mack said:

I don’t get the freak out about everyone’s job. It’s February. If they said that every assistant is going to coach running backs and they’re just going to leave the defense to coach themselves. . . I’d still watch the first game in August/September to see if it works.

I’m always going to be this guy, I guess, but I don’t know why it’s so hard to give even minimal information, like who does what. They know the answers. Why not answer questions? I’m always surprised this is an issue. You say it’s not a big deal, but I’m saying the same thing. If it truly doesn’t matter, then why does it matter?

Sammy said:

Tom Bradley’s last game as coach was against a Kevin Sumlin/Case Keenum/Kliff Kingsbury/Dana offense Houston team that threw for over 500 yards in a bowl win over (lame duck) Penn State

I know the concern referenced is how Bradley is equipped to play Big 12 offenses, but it’s hard for me to turn an incident into an indictment. True, though, that these offenses are different from what he saw in the Big Ten or as an independent.

Sheik Ybuti said:

See? His numbers are already an improvement over ours.

Teed that one up, huh?

netbros said:

Is it off limits to interview players during off season? Perhaps I’m not looking in the right places, but I never see any conversations with players from end of fall season until start of spring practice, and from end of spring practice to start of fall camp.

I know they have class and workouts and other responsibilities, but there also seems to be plenty of time in between to get their thoughts and observations.

It’s not off limits. They’re just not available. Every time they tell you there’s no offseason and it’s a year round game, remember that. Also, don’t expect to hear from Skyler Howard or any of the junior college transfers or enrolled high school seniors in the spring. First-semester players are off limits — though Charles Sims and Clint Trickett were exceptions, so it’s possible, though not expected, that Howard may be, too.

lowercase jeff said:

i dont believe that holgorsen’s job is on the line this year.

i believe luck knows holgorsen’s roster was shorthanded and lacking talent, due in no small part to the previous. luck was very clear on tony’s signing day show that holgorsen finally has a ful roster.

i think anything other than a dumpster fire and dana keeps his job.

i believe in he leadership of the football program, and hope they get a nice, long chunk of time to work with.

Here’s an interesting discussion: Can WVU be 4-8 or 5-7 and visibly, indisputably better — think along the lines of this 15-13 basketball team v. that 13-19 team last season — and Holgorsen keeps his job? I would argue yes. I think WVU could be better and have the same or similar record and have things pointed in the right direction and that it might be enough to bring Holgorsen back for a fifth season. A bowl game removes all doubt, I believe.

pknocker40 said:

More likely comeback: Giant inflatable helmet or Andrew Buie as a solid contributor?

Covered this — and all the other topics you all submitted — on S&S. I don’t want to give away the answer here, but let’s just say we ‘d predict one helmet is coming out of storage in a … big … way.

netbros said:

So is everyone being coy about Henderson’s illness, don’t know what it is, or protecting his HIPPA privacy rights?

They know what he has and they’re treating it. HIPPA is the shield, which is fine. We only need to know so much, but, again, I think it’s fair to tell the fans and the media “He’s out Saturday.” And WVU did that for the Iowa State game. No qualms with how that’s being handled. And understand why people are cautious. When you have 40 people covering a team and only four travel regularly, it’s hard to trust people when everyone is gunning for information. Sad, but true.

Foul Shot said:

Rough timing, the Hendo, Harris, Staten combo was raising our game.
Looking like 16-15 heading to the B 12 tourney.
Could possibly make a nice run here if they can surprise folks in these last three, but without Hendo and his outside scoring and penetration, this will put the team in a tough spot.
Opponent tomorrow has no B12 wins, hoping that does not change after tomorrow.
Huggs has not missed March Madness two years in a row in forever, and two straight losing years in longer than forever, so these last three will be interesting.

Here’s a pickle: Say WVU goes in 16-15 and maintains the No. 6 seed for the Big 12 Tournament, which is what projections say will happen. That means a first-round bye and a second-day game against the No. 3 seed, which is probably Texas, which is a dreadful matchup. It could also be Iowa State, which I think WVU would prefer, but projections suggest it’ll be Texas. If the third Texas game is anything like the first two, WVU is 16-16 and maybe out of the NIT. Now say WVU goes 16-15 and gets the No. 7 seed and doesn’t get a bye. It gets a first-day game against TCU and, by all projections, a win to go 17-15. The second-day game is against Kansas, but the TCU win gives WVU room above .500 that it needs to have to make the NIT. 

hershy112 said:

The problem is not that Dibo can’t put on his best Terry impersonation, it’s that Gary Browne cannot fill either one’s shoes. The times when Terry and Dibo played together are now times that Dibo is in the game with Gary. I think we all know that is a considerable downgrade on the offensive end. And in relation to size on the floor.

Indeed, and very quietly, Browne has regressed sharply. He went through a brutal shooting stretch — 0-for-10 from 3 in eight games — and he’s 4-for-23 from deep in Big 12 play. And he’s being left open in the absence of Henderson. If WVU goes with three guards, which it’s had to do with Watkins sliding and Williams and Noreen unable to stay in the game for whatever reason, you can guard Staten and Harris and press up on Dibo and leave Browne. Also, I’m not sure Browne ever played half court basketball as a kid. He never takes the ball back out after an offensive rebound like we did at recess. He always goes back up and it usually doesn’t go well.

Shoot4show said:

I really wouldn’t know how to guard with these rules and the inconsistent manner in which they are called.

It’s not consistent in the games and the officials are sometimes reminded of that, or need to be reminded of that. I think they’re way too subjective, too. You can’t give Huggins that technical for being on the floor — probably within reason — and not give Hoiberg one for being farther out on the floor. You can’t let Niang roll and run into a stationary Noreen for free throws — again, probably within reason this season — and not reward Staten when he drives into three moving, flailing defenders. But the bigger problem — I mean, far bigger — is they’re not calling games now like they did at the start of conference play. And that was the fear. These officials work non-conference games against a wide variety of teams and they were enforcing their rules as instructed by their bosses. Then it’s Big 12 games (and whatever other conference they work) the rest of the way and they get used to seeing teams and their styles and they wrap their calls around that. The enforcement has changed. That’s wrong and the coaches predicted it.

overtheSEC said:

Mike, I know your head is down and you’re writing but Huggins said something to Hoiberg at the handshake line and Id love to know what it was. It seemed like a complaint possibly about one of the Iowa State players.

I saw it and I don’t think it was that. I was watching and I know someone who was basically right there and he more or less corroborated what I saw. Huggins pointed at someone (I thought Hogue) and said, in essence, “That muscly fella can play.” Hoiberg did a double take and they talked it through and there was no “Why, I never …” quality about it afterward. Remember what I said before the game? Hoiberg walked across the floor to Huggins to shake hands and said “What do you think?” and attempted to move on, but Huggins shrugged his shoulders and answered the question. It caught Hoiberg off guard. Same thing, I think, at the end.

I love you, Doug! said:

For all our joking and random picking of Iowa State, of all teams, as WVU’s hated Big 12 rival, it has come to pass, except in basketball, not football. Perhaps the hatred will carry over. One can hope.

Football is different. I feel like players respect one another more than they do in basketball. I think they all go through so much and realize the other team does the same that they feel like they’re part of some fraternity and want to hold their brothers in high regard. There are exceptions, but the tension isn’t what it is in basketball. You don’t see a lot of brawls or dust-ups in football. I’ve always thought basketball was more volatile for a few reasons: Hard hits aren’t part of the game and you’re more familiar and more likely to become agitated with an opponent in basketball because the rosters are much, much smaller and you spend more time going against the same person. But as for the rivalry, I’m not really joking about this. I thought it started last season in basketball and there’s no way you can tell me after two games this season that those two teams are remotely fond of one another. There’s a lot of dislike there. It’s WVU’s basketball rival, at present, and that’s the sort of thing that can feed into a football rivalry that’s set up to become something. And, hey, incest jokes stoke the fire, no?

glibglub said:

In an Iowan divorce, my understanding is the pig gets half of everything.

Enjoy the weekend!