Blog Entry

West Virginia closing the Rodriguez/Stewart era

Posted on: July 8, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:47 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson

On the same day that Ohio State responded to allegations and Caleb King was ruled academically ineligible, more NCAA-related news came out of the ongoing investigation of West Virginia. As first reported by Dennis Dodd, Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart were both charged with failure to monitor compliance with NCAA legislation.

The charges were in regards to the allegation that West Virginia exceeded the permissible limit of the number of coaches and staff members engaged in team coaching activities. West Virginia proposed two years probation, lose three scholarships, and other internal restrictions for the football program. The NCAA, West Virginia, Stewart, and Rodriguez agreed on the facts of the case, charges, and penalties.

For West Virginia fans, it is the beginning of moving on from the soap opera that was the Rodriguez-Stewart transition. The university will not fight these allegations or penalties, and clearly athletic director Oliver Luck and the rest of the administraton is ready to bring a close to all this mess as quickly as the NCAA will allow.  In the last few years there have been reports of shady transitions, more than one forced retirement/resignation, and then most recently the leaking of false information from inside the program. Combine all this drama with the controversy of adding beer sales to the certain West Virginia athletic events, and it is fair to say they have had enough off-field attention for one offseason. More than most schools in their conference, West Virginia is anxious to crate some on-field headlines.

When they do take the field, they should be creating headlines. The Mountaineers offense struggled at times in 2010, particularly considering the caliber of talent at each position. Eight starters return from that unit, and now they will be under the watch of Dana Holgorsen's high-octane system. The 6-foot-3 Geno Smith fits in perfectly, with an impressive arm to spread the ball around and the athletic ability to remain a threat outside the pocket. He's not a run-first quarterback, or even run-second, but he can still do damage with open space. The defense returns two of the best pass rushers in the nation, with Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin now both every-down defensive linemen. There are some experience issues in the secondary, but there are few quarterbacks outside of Cincinnati's Zach Collaros who have proven the ability to consistently beat teams downfield. Regardless of the shortcomings in West Virginia's outlook, they are still expected to be in the Big East title hunt.

Mountaineer fans have a head coach; one they can feel like they searched for and found. He arrived earlier than expected to the heralded post, but now he's here. It's time to close a very successful (and occasionally very dramatic) era in West Virginia football, and begin focusing on the future with one of the brightest offensive minds in the game.
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