Posted By Tony Caridi on Monday, September 8, 2008 (9:11 am)
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It was not a fun weekend at all.
I saw a tropical depression Friday night and then got depressed watching a football game Saturday. Like all Mountaineer fans I’m emotionally involved. It’s difficult to remove the emotion, but after Saturday’s performance I think it’s important to take an objective look at what’s going on within the Mountaineer program.
We are watching a team going through major transitions on offense and defense.
It is a team that lost eight starters on defense. Four of those players earned all conference honors, including Marc Magro and Keilen Dykes who are currently on NFL rosters.
It’s an offense that’s running a new series of plays with new terminology. That’s obvious by the number of times Pat White has to point out where a teammate should be lining up.
It’s a defense that lacks leadership; last season’s leading tackler and Fiesta Bowl MVP Reed Williams, who’s recovering from double shoulder surgery, hasn’t played a snap.
Those are the facts, but there are some other things to consider before you think one loss on the road to an experienced East Carolina team equals a losing season.
A staff that has 221 years of experience at the college level is coaching this team. It’s a staff that has combined to play in 12 national championship games - winning four. It’s a staff that has won 37 conference championships and coached in 89 bowl games.
It’s a proven staff that knows how to teach and knows how to win. There is a great deal of teaching and learning that must take place before the Mountaineers regain their well-known swagger. Swagger is the byproduct of experience plus confidence and right now both ingredients are lacking.
History shows us that coaching transitions are not easy. Since 1950, West Virginia University has hired seven football coaches. The only coach to win more games in his first season than the man he replaced was Don Nehlen who won six games after inheriting a team that won five. That means Art “Pappy” Lewis (two), Gene Corum (zero), Jim Carlen (three), Bobby Bowden (eight), Frank Cignetti (five), and Rich Rodriguez (three) all won fewer games than their predecessor.
The bet from here is that the 2008 Mountaineers will improve each time they take the field. However, it’s a process that you can’t speed up. History shows us that transition years are difficult. So hang in there with the knowledge that the guys in charge of the coaching know how to win - it’s only a matter of time.