Shake Dat Laffy Taaffe, Dat Laffy Taaffe

Well, it’s official: HCBS has taken his first big-boy steps at West Virginia. And what steps they were.

Scoring Doc Holliday, Steve Dunlap, and David Lockwood — anything but Nehlen retreads — was a major coup for this fledgling coach. They add instant credibility both in recruiting and scheming. As we all know, Holliday is the jewel of this class and gives WVU arguably the best recruiter of Florida. Stewart’s 2009 class, simply because of Holliday’s presence, should be much improved. Hell, we might see a resurgence this year.

But the real question mark, at least in the eyes of the fans, is Charlie Taaffe, the new offensive coordinator. He immediately assumes the title of “Most Misspelled Name” at WVU, a title formerly held by John Beilein and Owen Schmitt.

Automatically, anyone with CFL experience is looked at as a leper (see: Stewart, Bill). But Taaffe is much more than that.

If you might remember, WVU got it’s head stomped four consecutive times by a very good Maryland squad. One might be quick to point out Scott McBrien’s presence, but he was still Scott McBrien, an average quarterback. Taaffe was the man that transformed that offense. Of course, when Maryland couldn’t recruit a QB to save their life, the team went downhill, but not before producing Vernon Davis.  Let us also not forget 1987-1995, when Taaffe was head coach of The Citadel, eventually becoming the winningest coach in school history.

Of course, many will want to forget his two DUI arrests, the second of which led to his dismissal at The Citadel.  Then again, he was found not guilty of both of those charges and won $186,000 from the school for breach of contract.  And if you still want to bring it up, I give you two words: Bob Huggins.

People can learn from their mistakes, if they were mistakes at all — he was found not guilty, remember.  And that was over 10 years ago, so apparently, he already has.  So, in my mind, when it comes to Charlie Taaffe, the good far outweighs the bad.

In closing, there are two teams in my recent memory that were basically unstoppable.  When they lined up, you just had absolutely no idea what was coming next on offense.  Those were Maryland under Taaffe and Louisville under Petrino.  That’s heady company.

My feeling is that Taaffe brings that same “holy shit, we’re good” offense to WVU.


21 Responses

  1. What does he know about running a spread offense though.

  2. As I stated before, I was reserving my final judgment on HCBS’s hire until I saw what kind of staff he brought in and what he can do with this recruiting class…so far, the staff part is passing with flying colors.

  3. Teams in the CFL have been running “the spread” long before RR made it trendy in college. Also, as you may recall, McBrien operated from “the spread” from time to time at Maryland. There is nothing particuarly novel about the spread. Everyone darn near runs some variant of it now.

  4. In 2001, Taaffe ran an option running game out of a spread formation with QB Shaun Hill.

    After that, Taaffe got ahold of Scott McBrien and set about making him look like John Elway for a couple years.

  5. Will Taaffe become frustrated that he only has 11 players to operate his offense at WVU instead of the 12 that play in the CFL?

  6. Actually, I believe by hiring this many CFL coaches, we can now legally play with 12.

  7. 1440 WAJR has a good run down of the new hires and the ones still being considered. I’m feeling much better now.

  8. What about Herb Hand? Is he still being considered, or has he even been at all?

  9. They’re back!
    Morgantown, W.Va.

    Related Stories:
    Search Continues For WVU Assistant Coaches

    Reports Say Reynaud Going Pro
    First year Mountaineer head football coach Bill Stewart has hired four members of his first coaching staff at WVU.

    Former WVU assistants Steve Dunlap and John “Doc” Holliday will be returning to their alma mater.

    Dunlap will serve as assistant head coach. Dunlap will coach safeties. Holliday will be associate head coach and and be in charge of tight ends and fullbacks.

    Holliday returns to WVU from Florida were he was associate head coach. Holliday also coached wide receivers at WVU. Holliday will be WVU’s recruiting coordinator. Dunlap, who has coached at Syracuse and North Carolina State in recent years, was defensive coordinator and coached linebackers and safeties at WVU. He was also a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Marshall last season.

    In addition, Stewart has hired Charlie Taafe as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Taafe was head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats last season. Taafe is best known for his days as head coach at The Citadel and as offensive coordinator at Maryland. He called plays for the Terps when they soundly defeated the Mountaineers in the first few years of Rodriguez’s time as coach.

    Former Mountaineer player David Lockwood will also join the staff as defensive backs coach. Lockwood coached the secondary at Kentucky this season. He coached defensive backs at WVU in 2000, Don Nehlen’s final season. He was retained by new coach Rich Rodriguez, but left before the season began. Lockwood as 19 years of coaching experience including time as the defensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota.

    Three positions remain to be filled on the staff. Offensive line coach, receivers coach and running backs coach.

    Here’s more information on the new hires and some others who may be under consideration.

    Doc Holliday – Most recently the associate head coach and safeties coach at the University of Florida. A native of Hurricane, W.Va., and a 1979 graduate of WVU, where he was a linebacker/defensive end, Holliday spent 17 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater (1983-99). Other than three seasons as WVU’s inside linebacker coach (1990-92), all his time at West Virginia was spent as its wide receiver coach. Holliday, who is regarded as an excellent recruiter with close ties to the fertile grounds in south Florida, became the associate head coach and wide receiver coach at North Carolina State in 2000, staying with Chuck Amato’s staff until 2005, when he was hired by Urban Meyer to join him at the University of Florida. Doc has been a part of the Gators’ staff for the past three seasons, and it was believed he was a strong candidate for WVU’s head coaching position when it came open last month.

    Steve Dunlap – Served as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Marshall last season. An outstanding linebacker for the Mountaineers (1973-75), Dunlap graduated from WVU in 1976 and quickly went into coaching. After five years as a G.A. and part-time assistant at West Virginia, Dunlap joined Gary Tranquill’s staff at Navy for two seasons before returning to WVU as a full-time assistant in 1984. He would spend the next 17 seasons as a member of Don Nehlen’s staff, coaching linebackers (1984-86 and 1991-2000) and defensive backs (1987-92) and eventually rising to the role of defensive coordinator, a position he held for 10 years (1991-2000). Dunlap wasn’t retained by Rodriguez when he took over for Nehlen in 2001, so Steve, a native of Hurricane, W.Va., accepted a job at Syracuse, spending four years with the Orange (2001-04) and then moving on to North Carolina State (2005-06) and eventually to Marshall this past season. Steve’s son Matt is currently a junior at WVU.

    David Lockwood – Another former Mountaineer player and one-time WVU assistant coach. Lockwood recently completed his first season as the secondary coach at the University of Kentucky. Prior to that he had been an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota for five years (2002-06), the final two as defensive coordinator. After five years at Memphis (1995-98), where he was the Tigers’ wide receiver coach and then DB coach, Lockwood returned to WVU in 2000. A four-year letterman for the Mountaineers, David was a key contributor as a cornerback for West Virginia’s Fiesta Bowl team in 1988. He was offered a chance to join Rodriguez’s original staff at WVU in 2001 but turned that down for a job coaching corners at Notre Dame in 2001.

    Charlie Taaffe – head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL last season, Taaffe has 35 years in the college and pro coaching ranks. The 57-year-old native of Albany, N.Y., had previously been the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at the University of Maryland from 2001-05. He also had a 10-year stint as the head coach at The Citadel (1987-96), and assistant spots at Army (1981-86) and Virginia (1976-80). In addition, he was the offensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL in 1997-98 where his offensive line coach was a man named Bill Stewart.

    Other coaches that could be under consideration for the other positions include:

    Chris Beatty – The 34-year-old native of Centreville, Va., is one people who we know is definitely a candidate, as he was at Mountaineer Field on Tuesday for a formal interview with Stewart and the staff. A 1995 graduate of East Tennessee State, Beatty was a four-year starting wide receiver for the Buccaneers, earning all-Southern Conference honors and leaving as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards. After a couple years in the CFL, Beatty returned to his native Virginia as a high school coach. He had stops at North Stafford High and Salem High before developing a powerhouse at Landstown High, which went 40-2 in his three years (2003-05). One of his star players was quarterback T.J. Mitchell, who at the time was recruited to West Virginia University by then assistant coach Bill Stewart. Mitchell’s stay at WVU lasted only a couple years before he transferred to Hampton University, and Beatty left Landstown in 2006, also headed to Hampton to become the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Division I-AA powerhouse which boasted the No. 7 scoring offense in I-AA during his lone season with the Pirates. Beatty moved up to the Division I-A level this past season, hired on to be the running back coach at Northern Illinois. After NIU’s long-time head coach Joe Novak retired following this past season, though, Beatty and the rest of the Husky staff were left looking for new jobs.

    Pat Kirkland – Currently a graduate assistant for West Virginia, the Akron, Ohio, native stepped up to help guide WVU’s cornerback in preparations for the recent Fiesta Bowl after the Mountaineers’ veteran cornerback coach Tony Gibson resigned early in December to follow Rodriguez to Michigan. Prior to arriving at WVU in 2006 to work with the defense as a G.A., Kirkland had spent the previous six seasons as the defensive coach for Glenville State (W.Va.) College, the last five of which he was the Pioneers’ defensive coordinator. A 1997 graduate of Muskingum College, where he was an all-conference defensive back, Kirkland spent one season as an assistant coach at John Glenn High in New Concord, Ohio.

    Pat Randolph – Currently the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Howard University, a Division I-AA (FCS) program in Washington, D.C. Randolph is a former running back at WVU (1983-87), where he rushed for 1,200 yards in a career which was interrupted several times by injury. Also a college basketball referee, Randolph previously had spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Guilford College, a Division III program in Greensboro, N.C., before being hired by Morgantown native and first-year Howard head coach Carey Bailey this past spring.

    Bill Legg – Currently the co-offensive coordinator and interior offensive line coach at Purdue. Another name from West Virginia past, Legg was an excellent offensive lineman for the Mountaineers (1981-84) before he moved into the coaching ranks. After stops at West Virginia Tech (1988), Eastern Illinois (1989-93) and VMI (1993-95, the final two years under Keydet head coach Bill Stewart), Legg, a native of Poca, W.Va., returned to WVU as offensive line coach in 1996 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2000. Legg coaxed a 7-5 record, complete with a 49-38 Music City Bowl from that 2000 squad, which was not exactly overloaded with talent. Though Rich Rodriguez had extended a potential offensive coordinator job to Legg in 1999 when Rodriguez came close to accepting the Texas Tech job, Rich did not retain Legg when he took over at WVU in 2001. Instead Legg landed at Marshall, spending two seasons as the Herds’ tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, before moving on to Purdue in 2003. He spent his first three seasons as the Boilermakers’ offensive line coach and for the past two years has also had the title of co-offensive coordinator. Purdue has led the Big Ten Conference in total offense in both of Legg’s two seasons as co-offensive coordinator (435.9 in 2007 and 415.7 in 2006), and this past year the Boilermakers also led the league in scoring (34.3)

    Canute Curtis – A former Mountaineer All-American linebacker, Curtis recently completed his third season as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator at Tennessee State University, a Division I-AA program which is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. A sixth round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1997 NFL draft, Curtis spent six seasons with Cincinnati. In 2004, he landed a job as an assistant coach at Towson (Md.) University and then moved on to Tennessee State the next season.

    Dale Wolfley – Currently in his second season as the head coach at Phoenix College, a junior college program in Arizona. A standout offensive lineman (1987-90) at WVU, the Orchard Park, N.Y., native is the younger brother of Craig (Syracuse and then the Pittsburgh Steelers) and Ron (WVU and the Cleveland Brown and St. Louis/Arizona Rams), who were each successful in the college and pro ranks. Dale spent three years as a G.A. at WVU (1991-93) before moving into private business. A few years ago, Ron (who also serves as a color commentator for the Cardinals’ radio network as well as a sports talk show host in the Phoenix area) became the head coach at Phoenix College, and he enticed Dale to become his defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. After the 2005 season, Ron decided to concentrate all his efforts into his radio career, and Dale moved up to be the Bears’ head coach. Dale has developed a program which is deep in talent. One of his defensive backs, Brantwon Bowser, recently signed with the Mountaineers and will enroll at WVU when the spring semester starts next week. Two other Phoenix defensive standouts, Tevita Finau and Aki Vakalah, are also being recruited by West Virginia, as well as a number of other major college programs.

    Marcus Kinney – A possible replacement for Mike Barwis as strength coach, Kinney worked with Barwis during a couple different stints at WVU, including 2004-05, when he was the Mountaineers’ director of skill development. Kinney, who earned a Masters from WVU in 1997, worked directly with the strength and conditioning aspect of the Mountaineers’ football program while the director of skill development, but last year was enticed to the University of Tulsa to become its director of strength and conditioning

  10. Notice the Tiger-Cats went 3-15 this year.

  11. We’re just going to pretend he’s our offensive coordinator for now. If that becomes not true, expect me to flip out like a ninja. Should be fun to watch.

  12. Charley,

    Can you contact me about running some advertisement on your site to increase business potential. I’m a former grad and absolutely go to this site atleast twice a day for the fastest eer news in the country. I think you can make this site explode man.

    Nasty Nati


  14. I think we just got played by Taaffe.

  15. Taaffe. Dakich?

    Maybe Taaffee pulled a Dakich on us?

  16. who cares whether we were played by Taaffe. I have never ever heard of him. Have you? I do like the other three and this gives me hope. I was worried.

    Now, let’s whip Louisville. How big would that be?

  17. Taaffe may end up at WVU yet —

    “[Tiger-Cats] management has spent most of Thursday in closed-door meetings, perhaps negotiating a buyout on the final two years of Taaffe’s three-year contract, which doesn’t contain an out-clause.”

  18. “Taaffe was named CFL coach of the year in 1999 and 2000 with Montreal before leaving Canada to become an assistant coach at the University of Maryland. He was an offensive consultant at the University of Pittsburgh prior to arriving in Hamilton.”

    A previous coach of Maryland and Pitt? He better take the Mountaineer test.

  19. Mountaineer test: How much Everclear and Country Time Lemonade can he drink without yakking?

  20. I heard Taaffe was a narc. Not the type of person I would want coaching our players.

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