WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Now that we’re expanding, what does WVU think?

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Now that the Big 12 has decided to go ahead and look into expansion with the purpose of eventually adding teams to the mix, we need to know what the Mountaineers think of all this.

Well, we know that President Gordon Gee wants to expand, and we know that Athletic Director Shane Lyons wanted the conference to make up its mind and either do it or move onto something else.

And now we know what the head football coach wants to do.

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Hello again from Dallas and the Big 12’s media days. Today we’ve got your West Virginia University Mountaineers, plus Texas, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma, as well as a cameo by Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, and a rules presentation by Walt Anderson, the Big 12’s coordinator of officials.

He’s presently warming up in the bullpen. Mr. Anderson begins at 9:30 a.m. For your warmup, a collection of stories in today’s edition of the Gazette-Mail.

  • The Big 12 commissioner wanted to talk about the 2016 football season Monday. Many others wanted answers about Baylor. Monday was not great for Bob Bowlsby.
  • The league has a conference title game coming in 2017, but there are a lot of things still to be debated and determined. Various people weighed in … but more importantly, an answer to the vital question: Does Iowa State, with a new coach, remain WVU’s one true rival?
  • His parents were police officers, and his mother worked 32 years for the Dallas Police Department. Even with everything going on here and throughout the country, he still wants to start his law enforcement career walking a beat on these streets. The Texas Tech cornerback’s name? Justis Nelson.

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The 2016 Big 12 media days

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We’re live in Dallas for Big 12 media days, and though a West Virginia uniform is in the building, the actual Mountaineers don’t appear until tomorrow. They’ll have a busy day.

Today’s schedule is busy, with or without WVU. At 10:05 a.m., commissioner Bob Bowlsby has his state of the union deal, which has been eventful through the years. In 2012, the Big 12 was minting off its grant of rights deal. In 2013, Bowlsby was the first to publicly stump for autonomy. In 2014, Bowlsby had pointed comments about rules and enforcement and famously said “I think it’s not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently.” Last year, Bowlsby dealt with the national profile of the Big 12 and whether his league was indeed at a psychological disadvantage.

It’s always something, so stay tuned today. I’ve got you covered for that. After he’s done — and there’s an hour set aside for his commentary and then questions and answers — TCU coach Gary Patterson, Kansas coach David Beatty , Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy follow.

Hey, don’t look now, but we’re almost there, everybody.

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Can’t wait? Look back at past media days

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We’re heading to Dallas today for the first of six road trips during the football seasons, and though the first day of two Big 12 media days doesn’t begin until tomorrow and you have to wait another day to hear from West Virginia’s head coach and representatives, you can chew on this until the time arrives.

Take a look back at the always-eventful Mountaineers through their years at the Big 12’s kickoff event.

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This, perhaps, is not subtle

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I’m working on some preseason stories, and one of them is, in some fashion, about the West Virginia defense and/or defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. I think the premise, or at least a building block, will be the mythology of the 3-3-5. There have been some whispers that its time is up and the Mountaineers won’t be good enough stay ahead of offenses that have gained ground. (Spoiler: Gibson disagrees, though he welcomes that bravado.)

But it brings up a valuable debate, one that goes beyond the basic “Scheme or players?” question.

How much of WVU’s success is the obtuse 3-3-5 and how much is the talent/coaching?

Well, Rich Rodriguez believes in the latter, going so far as to invoke poppycock.

“When I hired a coordinator, which was a little bit unique, I wasn’t looking so much for a scheme, because I think schemes are overrated, as much as I was looking for a personality and attitude. And I kind of set the parameters, this is what I want him to do. But I’m not going to coach it or teach it, I’m going to let my defensive staff to do that.”

Juicy!

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We haven’t heard from West Virginia’s athletic director lately, and I have’t spoken to him in far longer, but every now and then I suppose it’s fair and fun to check in on what’s sure to become The StoryLine for the 2016 season.

What of Dana Holgorsen and the temperature of his seat?

“It’s not about his contract right now, it’s about joining forces together,” Lyons told The Dominion Post on July 12. “We’ve worked very closely these last six, eight months since the end of the season to build this program and to allocate the resources necessary to make us a viable team in the Big 12 and, hopefully, nationally.”

Lyons says he won’t discuss ongoing negotiations over Holgorsen’s contract in the media (though he did reveal that Holgorsen turned down some kind of extension during an appearance on a local radio program in May).

He’s more transparent with his general stance on coaching contracts: “Personally? We got him through the two years. He’s my coach. He has two years left on his contract.”

Lyons has heard the familiar rebuttal to that philosophy.

It’ll hurt recruiting.

“Well, our recruiting class was everybody we wanted it to be in February,” he counters. (Rivals ranked WVU’s 2016 signing class 38th nationally.)

“And so far, I think we’re doing a good job of recruiting the commits that we’ve got at this point. That hasn’t impacted us.”

Agree or disagree, that is The Company Line, but that line of thinking expires Sept. 4. Prepare yourself. A lot of columns are going to wear out a path to the barometer this fall.

That’s still a long time. We’re basically coming off of our goal line and aiming at the opposite end zone, but at least we have the ball. And we’re about to snap.

We’ve got media days Monday and Tuesday next week, and the Mountaineers — Dana Holgorsen, quarterback Skyler Howard, center Tyler Orlosky, defensive end Noble Nwachukwu and safety Dravon Askew-Henry — are scheduled for the second day.

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Who thinned, expanded, grew and shrunk?

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Kudos to Chris Anderson for doing the yeomen’s work here, but it’s that time when West Virginia’s players step on a scale and a tape measure to gauge weight and height. It’s always fun — and this  year, Mr. Anderson includes some new jersey numbers — but let’s talk for a moment about something serious.

WVU’s cornerbacks put on weight and otherwise shrunk. One gained 18 pounds and is now a biscuit under 210 and a newcomer is up 10 pounds to also surpass 200. But another lost 20 pounds, which is really weird for a true freshman, but not as weird as four corners losing and inch and two losing two inches.

(And  if you think offseason weight programs don’t matter, Jovon Durante and Josh Lambert, who were banished for the spring, lost 15 and 12 pounds, respectively.)