As South Charleston athlete Derrek Pitts sat at Dem 2 Brothers and A Grill in Charleston Wednesday evening in front of the media and WVU fans his mentor, Mike Barron, watched intently waiting to hear where one of his star players was going to continue his football career. When Pitts announced it was Penn State all in attendance and throughout the state were in shock, including Barron stating, “I thought it was WVU.”
The aftermath of Pitts announcement has rumbled through the state like an earthquake. No one knows this better than Mike Barron, a strength and conditioning and 7-on-7 coach out of Charleston, West Virginia. Barron has helped mentor both Pitts and Louisville commit Dorian Etheridge both on and off the field.
Barron has taken a lot of the heat regarding Pitts, who’s announcement even surprised WVU coaches. One thing Barron has made abundantly clear though is that he had no influence on the decision making process for either Etheridge or Pitts. “On Sunday it was WVU, he changed his mind alot as he struggled with his decision,” Barron said of Pitts, “But I never played a role in his decision.”
“I’ve never been to Louisville and I’ve never set foot in Happy Valley”
Barron was sure WVU had closed the deal with Pitts during the Mountaineers final recruiting camp last Sunday. However, at the end of the day Pitts chose Penn State for one simple reason according to Barron, “Penn State outworked WVU, they got to what meant most to Derrek.” Pitts was quoted as saying after his decision that Penn State made his mother and sister feel at home, something that weighed heavily on Pitts.
Barron, however, has taken a lot of criticism because of specific tweets that he now regrets writing. The most infamous tweet in question was published on June 15th stating, “WV has nothing for my boys.” The tweet, Barron explains, was in response to Huntington’s Billy Ross’s announced top 7 which did not include WVU. “I saw something on the horizon,” Barron said when asked what the tweet meant. Ross committed to UNC Sunday night.
No matter what he meant by the tweet it was received negatively by Mountaineer fans, and probably rightfully so. However, Barron was candid in saying, “I apologize to the fans if they felt I was trying to smear WVU.”
Barron went on to say that tweet did have a deeper meaning, one that he felt has come true. West Virginia has seen six in-state prospects commit away from WVU, not to mention outside the state entirely. Barron feels there is a reason for this, one that may shed more light on his dreaded tweet, “They’re (in-state recruits) expected to go to WVU.” He went on to say, “They (WVU) have to recruit like these kids are from southern Georgia or Miramar.”
“They had options, and when you have options you do what is best for you. You can bounce one off the next, you can look at the totality of the situation and see who wants you the most.”
Barron feels that the recent trend of in-state prospects leaving the state is not a slight toward WVU, “We are seeing more kids with more options than we ever have, many West Virginia kids biggest offer is WVU.”
“I understand the fans desire to have these young men stay within the state, sometimes that is just not the best option.”
When pressed about his perceived dislike for WVU Barron was quick to point out, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to play in Morgantown, I love the University and this state.” Barron has two family members who recently graduated from WVU.
Barron was also quick to point out that both Etheridge and Pitts did not only not choose WVU, but they did not choose their dream schools either. Etheridge had always dreamed of playing at Virginia Tech, a school who had offered him early in his recruitment. The same can be said for Pitts whose dream school was Florida.
So as Barron continues to receive blame, something in which he understands but feels is misguided, he will remain adamant that when it comes to where these young men choose to play football that, “I’m not part of that process, I just want to see all of these kids do well.”
Featured image credit wvgazettemail.com