Dana Holgorsen recently added five new assistant coaches to his football staff, and four of the five have strong ties either to the state of West Virginia or to West Virginia University.
Running backs coach JaJuan Seider played for the Mountaineers under Don Nehlen and later served as graduate assistant coach for Bill Stewart; safeties coach Tony Gibson is from Van, W.Va., played college football at Glenville State and coached on Rich Rodriguez’s staff at WVU; offensive line coach Ron Crook is from Parkersburg and played college football at West Liberty while receivers coach Lonnie Galloway previously spent three years on Bill Stewart’s WVU staff.
Of the five new guys Holgorsen brought on board only corners coach Brian Mitchell, who previously worked with Holgorsen at Texas Tech, doesn’t have any Mountain State ties.
“In hiring guys, and you can tell this in the guys that I have hired, it is a combination of wanting to be in West Virginia,” said Holgorsen. “You can get a better quality coach because people want to live here. A lot of the guys that have ties to here want to come back.”
All five had good jobs before coming to WVU – Seider was the running backs coach at Marshall, Crook was tight ends coach at Stanford, Gibson was working with the secondary at Arizona, Galloway was coaching the receivers at Wake Forest and Mitchell was a defensive coordinator at East Carolina.
“They will leave good jobs to come back to West Virginia because it’s a great place to live, I think probably a little bit more so when you have lived here or your spouse has lived here,” said Holgorsen. “From a family situation, raising kids here is great.”
And while local ties were important, Holgorsen was also looking for guys who could coach the open spots on his staff and cover the recruiting areas that are vital to the continued success of the program.
“You take all three of those things and you come up with the best guy to hire,” he said. “I think we accomplished that with all five of these hires.
“From a recruiting standpoint, it’s an added bonus that JaJuan is really good at recruiting South Florida because he met all three of the criteria I was looking for; same with Lonnie. Lonnie is a great receiver coach and he loves it here. I have seen him recruit South Florida. I have seen him recruit Baltimore and I have seen him recruit the Georgia and North Carolina areas. He can go up and down the east coast, but you can’t do it all. You can’t go from Baltimore to South Florida, so I needed another guy that could help him do that.”
Coupled with the remaining four staff members, Holgorsen says he really likes the group of coaches he has assembled over at the Puskar Center right now.
“We have a program full of guys that are ready to step up and play when they are ready to step up and play and I like our staff right now,” he said. “I like our staff cohesion and I like what we are doing on all three sides. I like the fact that the players are buying in, and it doesn’t mean that we are going to win any games, it means that everyone needs to understand what the challenges are and not take anything for granted.”
In reality, West Virginia is really not that much different than the other nine schools in the Big 12, according to Holgorsen.
“There were nine bowl teams in the Big 12 and seven of them were 7-5,” said the third-year coach. “The reality of the situation is we are in a conference that has a whole lot of parity. Everybody needs to understand that. What I mean by everybody is all the coaches, and going through it now, all of our players are going to understand it a little bit more.”
“We have to be incredibly comfortable with all three of our schemes, which we are, and we have to coach them at a high level and we have to demand that our team buys into what we are saying,” Holgorsen added.
Holgorsen believes he has assembled a coaching staff that can get this accomplished.Briefly:
The Mountaineers are scheduled to practice today with select players available for interviews this evening after practice. West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game, presented by Kroger, will be played on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium. Fans can buy their tickets for the game in advance by logging on to http://www.WVUGAME.com.