Last week the attrition of the West Virginia University football coaching staff was discussed in this space. The general theme was that Dana Holgorsen had a busy off season hiring assistant coaches to replace coaches he had either fired or have left for greener pastures, but the process should be complete as spring drills are just ahead for the Mountaineers. Little did we know that there was still another coach yet to be offered and accepting a new position.
Another former WVU assistant, Butch Jones, offered running backs coach Robert Gillespie the same position at Tennessee and Gillespie accepted. In the era of social media, Jones used Twitter to announce the hiring of Gillespie.
In turn, Gillespie sent the following Tweet. "The Gillespie family had a blast at WVU and you guys will always hold a place in our hearts,'' he said. "We'll always root for the Mountaineers.''
Fan reaction has been mixed, and when I say mixed, that does not mean fans actually wanted him to leave. Gillespie was considered another valuable recruiter that will now have to be replaced. So, fans want to know why there is all this coaching attrition. The circle of people that actually know the answers to these types of questions has grown smaller under Holgorsen.
There are those wondering if these coaches are “rats fleeing a ship” or if it’s a case where the coaches are simply making career choices. It is most likely the latter. These guys aren’t leaving for old Big East foes or Conference USA schools. Their destinations have been Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Tennessee. WVU fans may not want to believe it, but those jobs are considered a bit of a step up in the coaching ranks, especially if you have no ties to WVU.
So, it is pretty easy to make the case that Holgorsen hired good offensive coaches that are desired by others in the industry. His recent hires seem to show that he is looking at loyalty to WVU or, West Virginia in general in his decision making process. Hopefully that creates a best of both worlds scenario with solid coaches who aren’t looking at leaving anytime soon.
As of Monday, there are no names officially in the mix for the new opening. Again, it is that tight Holgorsen circle that doesn’t leak information at work. A fan favorite has emerged and that would be former WVU player and grad assistant JuJuan Seider. Seider is current coaching running backs at Marshall and it has been said that he would jump at the chance to come back to West Virginia. Seider already has a good track record for recruiting his home state of Florida, which is a big reason for the fan support he is receiving.
What we don’t know is where Holgorsen is in his hiring process. Word is, calls about the position came pouring into the football office late last week.