The (Great?) Mountaineer Staff Experiment

The Mountaineers are embarking on a great experiment in the coming years. When Bill Stewart was first hired, I’m sure that wasn’t the idea, but experiment we shall. What is that experiment?

Take a huge power vacuum, insert a relatively unexperienced but very well liked guy, surround him with the absolute best assistants in the country, stir, and see what happens.

I am unaware of a situation quite like this one in recent college football history.

Usually, when an outwardly uninspiring hire is made, the school usually makes equally uninspiring hires on the assistant front. Basically, they just go cheap and give up. WVU, on the other hand, was sure they had found their man in Bill Stewart. Then, knowing that the hire would be greeted by a general, nationwide thud, they backed the Wells Fargo truck to the Puskar Center loading dock and started looking for some assistants.

Is there an assistant coach in the country that makes half of what the head coach makes? Only at WVU, where Doc Holliday, not even a coordinator, makes $400,000 to HCBS’s $800,000. Look at the staggering change from last year:

2007:

  • Head coach (Rodriguez): $1.78 million
  • All assistants: $1.36 million

2008:

  • Head coach (Stewart): $800K
  • All assistants: $2.05 million

Like I said, staggering.

If this works, it could signal a change in thinking for many college programs. Instead of basing your program on one superstar coach — who could leave for another job at the drop of a hat — you find an experienced caretaker who is well liked and build around him. Find assistants who are good at their job and each have a great niche in recruiting.

Look at what Beatty is doing in Virginia; what Holliday is doing in Florida. These guys are absolutely killing it in recruiting. Plus we have a very good coordinator in Casteel and a promising upstart in Mullen. Not to mention guys like Johnson, Dunlap, and Galloway.

It may not have started as an ideal situation, but WVU’s methodology seems rock-solid. 2008 should be a blast, if only to see all this play out. And, you know, win a national championship.

[Charleston Gazette]

17 Responses

  1. I am definitely optimistic with this plan.

  2. I think this experiment will be a great success. The only thing that really concerns me about this experiment is Strength and Conditioning. I hope Joseph is making them work till it hurts.

  3. That article in the Gazette about Mullen scares me to death. Saying that there not alot of high reward in the run game is stupid. We scored 40 points per game and averaged more than 6 yards per carry. What differnce does it make if we are 115th in the country in passing, if we are 10th in pass efficency and 10th in scoring, and 2nd in wins?

    I think everyone would agree the Fiesta Bowl should be a template of the offense. About 18 passes, but mostly vertically to keep the D honest for the running game.

    I hope my fears are unwarranted, but Pate White is a running QB and we have the players to be a running team, and Mullen seems to want to take fix what just needs tweaking.

  4. The experiment sounds good, any chance we could get that going in Washington?

  5. We will hold the rope and we will be better than last year. We will run when needed and pass when needed and will be very successful all around. We will get loose with WHite and Devine… The pass game will open up from are excellent run attack this season! Cant wait till September! 7 months! The score board @ the end of the game is all that matters!

    Lets Go!

  6. I was just speaking to somebody about this last night.

    Will it catch on? No, I don’t think so. WVU’s situation is/was pretty unique. A perfect storm fell into place.

    1. No ideal replacement emerged
    2. Coach who was well respected on current staff
    3. A blowout victory over one of the top teams in the country
    4. No ideal replacement emerged
    5. AD and President so turned off by prior coach

    Even if this setup works, I don’t see AD’s turning down the chance to hire a big name coach that will charge up the fan base.

  7. I think you also have to say a lot of it was the willingness of Holliday, Dunlap, Lockwood, etc. to accept smaller roles here. Especially Holliday, who was talked about a lot to be the HC, then he takes a position coach (assistant head coach tag and 400k) to come back to Morgantown. There’s a lot of guys that would tell us to f-off after they didn’t get the HC job.

  8. I think the best CFB experiment ever was when Alabama tried to graft the late Paul “Bear” Bryant’s head onto Ray “So Totally Not Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant” Perkins. Sure, it failed. But it was bold and ground-breaking.

  9. Who is this Pate White fellow and why haven’t I heard about him? I mean, I follow the team. I’m a diehard.

  10. Pate White is what you get when Pat White goes to Sweeney Todd for a haircut.

  11. I agree with Stiles on not seeing ADs turn away from big-name coaches, but I do think that if this works it will elevate the roles of assistants in the eyes of ADs enough that perhaps there will be more equity in pay at other schools.

  12. Wasn’t Holliday part of Chuck Amato’s “million dollar staff” at N.C. St.? Where a first time head coach surrounded himself with excellent assistants….and went 49-37?

  13. To comment on the 25314’s comment about Mullen changing the offense (I think the article was in this weekends Gazzette???) I don’t see it so much as changing the winning fomula that has worked relatively well for us the past few years – I say relatively well because, as Mullen said in that article, there are people out there who have figured out how to slow down (or completely stop) the run game.

    To keep with the theme of experimenting – I think it might be fun to see what happens if we can throw the ball downfield just a little bit more. I also hope that I am not eating my words this time next year.

  14. What happened when Texas turned Vince Young loose and allowed him to throw downfield more?

    Also, don’t know if this theory will be good for long term success. For the near future I like our chances, but if we do very well next year some of our assistants will be offered better jobs for more money. We either shell out more money or find assistants that are just as good but not as well known. Not sure if we can keep that up. It is actually harder to keep assistants than a head coach because assistants can be promoted at other schools, whereas a head coach can only take the head coaching job at another school.

  15. WVU, a school with a relatively small athletic budget, is helping drive up the national pay rate for assistants while other schools work to raise the pay rate for head coaches. Combine the two and WVU will have a harder and harder time keeping up.

  16. Holliday was @ NC State. They had players such as Mario Williams and Phillip Rivers.

  17. The main problem with this philosophy is that assistant coaches are more likely to leave because they can be promoted by other schools to head coaching positions. As Lipsander said, this will require these other programs to really loosen their purse strings to be able to afford a reasonable pay raise along with the promotion in position to our coordinators…we’ll see how things pan out.

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