A little over a week ago West Virginia University football coach Rich Rodriguez was in Hawaii to coach the East team in the Hula Bowl, a collegiate all star game. Being asked to coach in one of these games is an honor, and certainly serves to illustrate how the WVU football program has been elevated in the eyes of the college football world.
Another such illustration of WVU's ascension in college football occurred while Rodriguez was in Hawaii prepping his team in the week prior to the game. No fewer than three of Rodriguez's assistant coaches were hired away by other schools. That is a price of success.
Assistant head coach and offensive line coach Rick Trickett was wooed away by Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Trickett is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the business. It is Trickett's move which had many scratching their heads because his move to FSU is believed to be a lateral one in both salary and responsibility.
The same cannot be said of Butch Jones and Herb Hand who left for positions which clearly were promotions.
Jones, the wide receivers coach at WVU, was hired as the head coach at Central Michigan University. Hand was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at WVU and will become the offensive coordinator at Tulsa.
Losing three key members of the WVU coaching staff isn't a good thing, but then that is part of the process. Good coaches will get hired for better jobs. On the positive side, WVU now looks like an attractive job for other coaches out there looking to move up the ladder.
To that end Rodriguez has announced two new hires. Actually three new members to the staff have been announced, but one backed out after a day. Clemson offensive line coach Ron West was announced last week to replace Trickett, but backed out a day later after receiving a more lucrative offer from Clemson.
On Monday Rodriguez announced the hiring of two coaches from the staff at the University of South Florida. That's right, the same USF team which came to Morgantown in November and dashed the Mountaineers' hopes for a BCS bowl bid.
Greg Frey will be the offensive line coach. Frey played for Bowden at Florida State and has been at USF since the school began football in 1996.
The second hire was something of a surprise, though it shouldn't have been considering the ties Rod Smith has to Rodriguez. Smith has been hired to be the quarterbacks coach at West Virginia. Smith has done well in that capacity at USF, the only thing is WVU already has Bill Stewart as quarterbacks coach. As of Tuesday morning there was no word on what Stewart's new responsibilities will be, but heading up the recruiting could be one of them.
Smith played for Rodriguez at Glenville, and is a native of Franklin where he played for his father Gary Smith. One gets the idea that Rodriguez has had his eye on Smith for some time. It was primarily Smith who installed the USF offense which looks very similar to the one WVU runs.
The biggest negative to the coaching changes will be determined in two weeks when WVU's recruiting class will be announced. The Mountaineers' staff was said to be set to sign one of the best classes in the school's history, so losing these coaches, especially a recruiting coordinator, at this time could cause a few defections.
The good news is that Smith and Frey come in with proven track records for recruiting talent rich Florida.