What do all the coaching changes for the upcoming season at WVU really mean? A season full of high hopes that turned into disappointment last year brought a huge overhaul in the Mountaineer coaching staff. How did it happen? Did they all simply jump ship from a sinking program?
The end of last season created as many changes in the coaching staff as is normally expected with the hiring of a new head coach. Some were moved out, some moved on, two were simply moved and one was kicked upstairs. Let’s take a look at the changes, starting with the offense:
Lonnie Galloway – Assistant Head Coach/Receivers
Coach Galloway was hired to fill the position vacated by moving coach Dawson to quarterbacks. And what a coup his hiring was! Coach Galloway had previously coached wide receivers at WVU under Coach Bill Stewart. Galloway tutored Jock Sanders and others to successful careers. He also recruited Tavon Austin, Ivan McCartney and Bruce Irvin to WVU.
When Holgorsen was named head coach, Galloway moved on to Wake Forest as a receivers coach, citing personal reasons to move south. Galloway has been coaching wide receivers at the college level since 1996, with previous jobs at Elon, East Carolina, and Appalachian State. Coach Galloway is also known as an excellent recruiter.
Shannon Dawson – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Coach Dawson retained his position as offensive coordinator after 2012 and was named the new quarterbacks coach. His move was brought about by quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital leaving for Texas A&M to coach Johnny Manziel.
Coach Dawson has 11 years coaching experience at the college level and four successful years as an offensive coordinator. He was a quarterback in college and led FCS Stephen Austin’s Jeremy Moses to two time All American status as well as the Walter Payton Award.
JaJuan Seider - Assistant Coach/Running Backs
JaJuan Seider was hired by WVU to fill the position vacated by Robert Gillispie, who left for a position at the University of Tennessee after last season.
Seider had been at Marshall for the past three years where he was running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. When Marshall played WVU last season, Seider used four different running backs. Seider appears to believe if you practice well, you get a chance to prove yourself in a game.
As a recruiter, Seider delivered extremely well for Marshall. Covering Florida and Georgia, he signed 13 three star and 2 four star players in three years. Among those was quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Ron Crook – Assistant Coach/Offensive Line
After the departure of Bill Bedenbaugh at the end of the season to go back home and coach at Oklahoma, WVU hired Ron Crook from Stanford. For Crook, it was a return home also. He is from Parkersburg, WV and played for West Liberty College near Wheeling.
Crook also began his coaching career there before stops at Cincinnati, Illinois, Harvard, and Stanford. He was the offensive tackle and tight end coach at Stanford for two years. He helped produce the linemen that protected Andrew Luck as well as coaching tight ends Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo.
Crook brings an impressive resume for developing All American tackles and offensive lines that are highly effective at pass protection as well as run blocking. With a group of talented but mostly inexperienced offensive linemen at WVU, Crook’s hiring may have been the timeliest.
Tony Gibson – Assistant Coach/Safeties
Now for the defense. In 2012, Joe DeForest proved that all his years as a successful special teams coach did not prepare him to be either a safeties coach or a defensive coordinator.
Despite being removed as defensive coordinator, DeForest kept his title as Associate Head Coach. He was also named Special Teams Coordinator by Holgorsen, where DeForest has excelled for previous teams. By heading special teams, he replaced long time WVU coach Steve Dunlap, who was moved to the front office.
To replace Deforest as safeties coach, WVU hired Tony Gibson, a former Mountaineer coach also coming back home. Gibson is not without controversy with the Mountaineer faithful. He previously left WVU for Michigan with Coach Rodriguez, and in doing so he certainly caused substantial fire damage to WVU bridges.
After interviewing with Holgorsen, Gibson left Arizona and Coach Rodriguez to return home. He is originally from Van, WV and played football at Glenville State College (WV). Gibson has been coaching defensive backs since 1996 and is well respected by his former players. He teaches an aggressive, in your face style of coverage which could be a welcome respite for WVU from last year.
Brian Mitchell – Assistant Coach/Cornerbacks
After a disastrous defensive year in 2012, the Mountaineers replaced cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts with former East Carolina assistant coach Brian Mitchell. After several very successful years as a defensive backs coach, Mitchell was promoted to defensive coordinator at East Carolina. He was subsequently fired after holding the position for one year.
Mitchell’s failed stint as a defensive coordinator at ECU did not diminish his reputation as a cornerbacks coach and an outstanding recruiter. Mitchell had 15 successful years as a defensive backs coach at BYU and Texas Tech before joining the staff at East Carolina.
With 12 freshmen that played on defense for WVU in 2012 now experienced, Mitchell’s coaching techniques could make a huge difference with the cornerbacks.
Keith Patterson – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
One of the bright spots in last season’s porous defense was the linebacker position, coached by Keith Patterson. His title of co-defensive coordinator in 2012 was apparently in name only. He was promoted to sole defensive coordinator at the end of last season.
Patterson spent 8 productive years as a linebacker coach and 5 years as co-defensive coordinator at Tulsa before becoming the defensive coordinator at Pitt for one year. Patterson’s defenses at Tulsa were very successful and ranked among the tops in conference USA.
During his one year stay as linebacker coach and defensive coordinator at Pitt, two defensive players ranked among the top 26 nationally for sacks. Pitt’s head coach Todd Graham left Pitt between the end of his first season and a bowl game to become the head coach at Arizona State.
Patterson reportedly turned down a chance to follow Graham to ASU, instead assuming the role of interim head coach at Pitt for a bowl game. After the bowl game, Pitt hired University of Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst as head coach. Patterson then went to Arkansas State as defensive coordinator where he spent less than two months before being hired by Holgorsen at WVU.
Coach Holgorsen’s first year as a head coach was a bitter disappointment after so many years as a highly successful offensive coach and coordinator. In my opinion, Coach Holgorsen’s biggest mistakes were in his choices of assistant coaches and their assigned responsibilities.
To Holgorsen’s credit, he appears to have no intentions of letting it happen again. With all the changes, WVU’s football coaching should be greatly improved for 2013.
Despite the loss of three exceptional players to the NFL, this year’s team appears to me to have more talent overall than in 2012. After all the lofty expectations for last year went south, the expectations for this year’s team are modest at best. I think there may be some surprises.
Comments or debate welcome and appreciated!