From the Cheap Seats: Stop the Coaching Carousel...I Want to Get - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From the Cheap Seats: Stop the Coaching Carousel...I Want to Get Off

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When you're only in your early 30's, those "back in my day" stories seem a little premature. But when you look at how the landscape of college athletics has changed over the past dozen years or so, they don't seem so out of place.

I grew up on the Mountaineers of Nehlen and Catlett. Neither was real flashy, but year in and year out, you knew what to expect. With Nehlen, you knew his teams would win some games they weren't supposed to and lose some they shouldn't. You knew that in media interviews, you'd hear some "dadgums" and about hot fudge sundaes. You also knew that on 3rd and 20, a draw was coming.

With Catlett, you could expect a bunch of cupcakes on the non-conference schedule. You could expect him to show up on the bench periodically in that leather blazer. In post-game press conferences, you could expect to hear about picking apples in Hedgesville.

The careers of Nehlen and Catlett ended with the millennium and an era of change began. An immediate change was that most fans suddenly expected, and demanded, that the Mountaineers compete for conference and national championships.

After a season of adjustment, football seemed to be headed in the right direction. Winning seasons became the norm, all led by a former Mountaineer player, who grew up just down the road from the University City, in a small coal mining community.

Over at the Coliseum, we had a weird few days with Dan Dakich as our head basketball coach, but Mountaineer fans got extremely lucky when he abruptly left and a relatively unknown coach, named John Beilein, was brought in. His quirky offensive and defensive schemes, and a great group of freshmen, brought new life to the Coliseum.

During all of this, three of our Big East foes bolted for the ACC. That's when concerns about the conference's survival began. We're seeing how that is all turning out now, but the football ‘Eers benefited from seven seasons of not having to go through Miami and Virginia Tech to win the league, while the hardwood Mountaineers got better by playing in one of the most competitive basketball leagues ever assembled.

Then the 11 win football seasons started and it seemed almost too good to be true. Our beloved Mountaineers, with a native son at the helm, were proving themselves to the nation. Then it happened. Rumors that our hometown boy was headed to Alabama swirled, causing panic to set in. But, behind the scenes, the big money guys ponied up and RichRod took to the radio airwaves to calm our fears with his famous, "I'll be here as long as they'll have me" quote. Meanwhile, Beilein led his troops on a second NCAA Tournament run. The future continued to look bright in Morgantown.

It only got brighter in 2007.  After being snubbed by the Big Dance, Beilein led the basketball team to an NIT championship.  Days afterward though, he left for Michigan.  The administration acted quickly to bring in Bob Huggins and we've all seen how that has turned out. Aside from concerns about his ticker, we don't have much left to worry about at the Coliseum.

The 2007 football season developed and trip to the national championship seemed imminent. But as we all know, hopes faded fast, first with the loss to Pitt, and then with the defection of you know who, also to Ann Arbor.  Having two coaches leave in the same year took us from feeling like a destination to a stepping stone.

Proven by the way the team came together and defeated a highly-favored foe in the Fiesta Bowl, the administration made a great interim decision. Fans weren't left in limbo long, as hours after the big win, the powers made a not-so-great, somewhat permanent, decision.

The Bill Stewart situation completely turned the tables on fans. We didn't have to worry about him going anywhere, but we didn't have to worry about making any BCS plans either. Enter the "coach-in-waiting," casino caper, and reporters "digging up dirt" fiasco and we're right back in the opposite position: a coach with no ties to West Virginia, who with another good season or two, could be headed for greener pastures. Even before the Orange Bowl drubbing, internet sites had Holgorsen headed for Ole Miss.

And now, the bulk of the defensive coaching staff, that had a combined 75 years associated with WVU, is in Arizona with our old friend. We may never know what caused this latest sequence of events.

Throw in the Big East/Big 12 mess and it's enough to give any diehard fan an ulcer. It's human nature to not like turmoil or change, but I understand that it comes with the territory of top level college athletics. It just seems that Mountaineer fans have had more than their fair share. If I never have to hear about the media tracking planes into Morgantown, that may or may not have a new coach aboard, or read about a potential assistant on a website run out of some guy's basement, it will be too soon.

I love the competitiveness and national prominence, that in one way or another, Rodriguez, Beilein, Stewart, Huggs, Holgorsen and their staffs have brought us, but at some point, a little Nehlen and Catlett-esque consistency, with winning of course, will become worth its weight in Gold & Blue.

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