It is blatantly obvious from call-in shows, message boards and the Coaching Approval Meter, that a majority of WVU fans either want HCBS fired right now or are seriously leaning in that direction. [I am not in either of those camps.] At the end of the day, however, it does not matter what the hell we think about HCBS. It only matters what the players in the locker-room think about him.
If you go back to the night Smilin' Bill was hired, it was the players, specifically, that first lobbied for Stewart to get the job. The administration ran with it and by about 3:30 that next morning, Smilin' Bill was our coach.
For me, Noel Devine's decision on his NFL future will be a good guage of how the players feel about this coaching staff and the program's future.College athletes, more so than pros, must toe the company line about coaching decisions and the atmosphere within the lockerroom. Time after time the public does not hear about problems within a program until a player graduates or transfers to another school.
The current situation at Kansas and the start of the pre-season troubles at Michigan, are prime examples of players not opening up until they are out of the program. Last year we did see Patrick White show some frustration toward Mullen during the season but after the season there was nary a peep from anyone about HCBS or anyone else on the current staff.
The fans can lose faith in HCBS all they want and it won't matter much, if at all, in the win-loss record. However, if the players begin to doubt HCBS, it will obviously send the win-loss record into the tank.
It is obvious that you want to enter the draft when your value is at its peak. Devine would be well served to stay in the program and show NFL scouts that he can be more than a third down back. That being said, if Devine leaves for the NFL it will show me that there may be some doubt in the player's minds about the direction of the program. Devine leaving would show me that he only thinks he draft stock could fall with another year in the program.
What will he do and will it push me closer to losing faith in HCBS? Only time will tell.