The WVU football staff has now lost two coaches within the last three days and three since the end of the 2015 season. While coaching changes are the norm in college football the underlying tone surrounding the WVU program may have contributed to the defections.
Following the 2015 season WVU athletic director Shane Lyons gave Dana Holgorsen what many felt was a less-than-convincing endorsement for 2016. Uncertainty about the future of the program immediately came to the forefront.
In February WVU lost defensive backs coach Brian Mitchell to Virginia Tech. Mitchell was in the final year of his contract and we would learn soon after that Lyons had implemented a policy at WVU that assistant coaches would be contracted on a yearly basis stating, “Coordinators are multi-year and assistants are year-to-year. If you look at the national trend, that is very consistent.”
While the details of Mitchell’s contract at Virginia Tech have not been made public sources in Blacksburg have indicated that he has signed a two year contract to take the same position he held at WVU.
This past weekend, in a move that went mostly unnoticed, defensive grad assistant Anthony Leonard left the WVU staff to take the defensive line coaching position at Division II Indiana University at Pennsylvania (IUP). While this was a promotion for Leonard it was also a position that was available at WVU just a month ago.
Then lon Sunday night Mike Casazza broke the story that wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway would be leaving the program to become the co-offensive coordinator at Louisville. Again, just like Leonard, the position he left Morgantown for was available just weeks ago before being filled by Joe Wickline. It is now apparent that WVU did try to sway Galloway to stay offering him a contract extension that included a guarantee through the 2017 season, something Lyons just a month earlier said was not an option. The extension also gave Galloway a $25,000 pay increase.
Holgorsen has replaced all departed coaches with the exception of Galloway. Joe Wickline, Matt Caponi, and Blue Adams have all joined the staff in recent months. Replacing Galloway and what he brought to the program will be a tall task considering spring practice has commenced. Furthermore, Brian Mitchell and Galloway were at the forefront of recruiting for WVU alongside Seider.
Who is to blame? The answer to that question is subjective. It is tough to place the blame on any one person is this situation. While fans preach loyalty that simply does not pay the bills. Lyons has been handed a situation that was not in the best interests of WVU. Holgorsen is now in a situation where he is being asked to restructure a contract that is heavily in his favor. Has the result of this stalemate been the departure of a high number of coaches? Maybe. Or maybe it was simply better opportunities presenting itself.
In all Holgorsen has parted ways with four position coaches and one grad assistant since the end of the 2015 season. While coaching turnover is common, the extent of the turnover over the last few months has been above the norm.