Things have sure taken some unexpected turns in WVU football this past year. Until I wrote that sentence I didn't realize what a huge understatement it actually was.
Coach Holgorsen's recent comments about team effort and selfish thinking concern me. I fully expect young men who are not mentored well to become selfish and believe that it is all about themselves. I consider myself a pretty active parent and I have to remind my teenage sons weekly that the world doesn't revolve around them. It is possible that the Coach is doing all he can to institute the kind of football program that is comprehensive in its approach - sports, school, self-development. This statement could be part of that pursuit:
"We’re going to take who wants to win; we’re going to take who wants to pull for his teammates and who wants to be all-in on this thing – not guys that pout and mope because they’re not playing or any of the rest of it," he said. "We’re going to be a united team, and the only way I know how to get that accomplished is to make sure that we’re only taking people that are focused and headed in the right direction."
However, I can't help but wonder three things about the real condition of the present WVU football team culture:
(1) Did last spring's coaching dissension/change create more animosity than we've previously imagined; namely, players who were loved by Coach Stew have had to start all over with Holgy and have not fared so well?
(2) Have players perceived the coaching changes as a Holgorsen "Take Over" from Stew (amid the tawdry details about Casinos, slander, etc...), and has this set the tone for the apparent "I'm gonna get mine" mentality of some players?
(3) Are Holgorsen & his new staff taking the necessary time to nurture and mentor these young men off the football field?
I remember when Bob Knight was ousted at Indiana University and the old school coach was critiqued for his "I brought you here to win and do what I say, not to be your nurturer" attitude. Young men - many unaccustomed to having a male authority figure in their lives - now had a mean, angry, old, white man screaming at them. "Gee, I wonder why Bob Knight's success coaching young men of this generation began to wane?"
Mentoring is more about what is seen than what is heard; the old adage being "More is Caught than Taught." Assuming that the Coach is a good man, and that he's doing all he can to develop young men comprehensively, putting his stamp on a program is still a long-term project. It takes a ton of personal interaction with players to get a "unified" team that shares the coach's passion and focus. Something Bob Knight's protege Mike Krzyzewski ably adapted into his coaching style and Duke Basketball has been the beneficiary.
However, it is possible that this season at WVU we're seeing in some players a selfishness that was ingrained into them by a coach's attitude. If that is the case, I'm not sure which Head Coach's DNA is was.