What if there was an alternate universe, and what if there was a Mickey Furfari in that universe too? In response to today's article by Furfari, we submit the following from alternate universe Mickey Furfari.
I'll admit that Dana Holgorsen did a pretty good job with Bill Stewart's recruits. Along with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey, Holgorsen smashed a lot of WVU and college bowl records in his first year. If it wasn't for the poor recruiting quantities produced by Bill Stewart in his three years as head coach, we might be talking about Holgorsen as the greatest WVU football coach of all time. I digress, though. And at my age, that's an easy thing to do.
I've noticed a pattern with WVU football coaches over the last 40 years that I don't think anyone has touched on. Or maybe they did and I'm just too old to remember. Hell, I might have written this article last week. I don't know. But here's the pattern:
Frank Cignetti is an incredible recruiter but is underminded by a power hungry, back stabbing assistant coach named Nick Saban (a West Virginia native). Despite the poor record and power struggle with his assistant coaches, Cignetti stomps for updated facilities to compete with the Penn State's of the college football world. He is successful at getting New Mountaineer Field built, but not in keeping his job.
Don Nehlen comes into new facilities he didn't help build and star athletes he didn't help recruit and proceeded to go to four bowls in his first five years. When he was finally playing with his own recruits in 1985 and 1986, the bottom dropped out and the Mountaineers stayed home for the bowl season. If not for a magical quarterback in a running back's body from Pittsburgh, this might have been the end of the Nehlen era at WVU. Instead, we were forced to endure 13 more years of mediocrity sandwiched around two great years. The 1998 team went 8-4 despite sending more players to the NFL combine than any other school. But if you want to underscore the absolute failure of a coach you need only look at the Caperton Indoor practice facility. A practice facility that isn't long enough or tall enough to accomodate the abilities of a college football kicker. It's a sad monument that still darkens the grounds outside Mountaineer field today. One that Nehlen stumped for religiously.
In 2001 Rich Rodriguez (a West Virginia native) took over the Mountaineer program with horrible results using Nehlen's recruits. Rodriguez made steady improvements, but things didn't take off until 2005 when he was coaching his recruits. Three straight 11 win seasons later, WVU was on the national football map. Unfortunately, the backwards thinking administration led by Ed Pastilong didn't like Rodriguez's ideas for increasing revenue and upgrading facilities. Being competitive on a national scale didn't fit into their vision for the football program. So they pushed Rodriguez out the door and hired a man they could control.
Bill Stewart (a West Virginia native) won big with Rodriguez's recruits in his first game. But steadily the program declined over the next three years. It wasn't until our angel sent from heaven above, Oliver Luck, took over the athletic department that things finally headed back in the right direction.
Dana Holgorsen took over for Bill Stewart in 2011. Despite a lack of depth due to Stewart's under developed recruiting classes, Holgorsen was able to guide the Mountaineers to a conference title in the mediocre Big East. The lack of depth would come back to haunt Holgorsen in 2012 and 2013 against the superior competition of the Big 12. However, there were signs in 2013 that things were again headed in the right direction and a bright future lay ahead of the Mountaineers on a national stage once again.
If it isn't apparent to you, good things follow when a forward thinking coach is leading the Mountaineers. Cignetti, Rodriguez, and Holgorsen are the kind of men that push a program forward. While coaches like Nehlen and Stewart are happy to rest on their laurels and ride a program into the ground. My only hope is that I don't have to see another Cignetti or Rodriguez run out of town before they are able to finish the job. Maybe I'm just afraid that another Nehlen or Pastilong might kill this glorious program once and for all.