What a strange offseason it's been for Mountaineer assistant coaches. Daron Roberts andare let go, Jake Spavital takes a promotion at Texas A&M, and Brian Mitchell, Tony Gibson, and Lonnie Galloway are brought in from all over the country (ECU, Arizona, and Wake Forest,respectively) to replace them. Then, after signing day, Bill Bedenbaugh leaves for Oklahoma to be replaced by Ron Crook of Stanford. Finally, when everything seemed settled, Robert Gillespie leaves for Tennessee. You know what that means? Some unsuspecting FBS program is about to lose a running backs coach. Such is the world of assistant coaching in big time college football.
As per CoachingSearch.com (an outstanding hub for coaching rumors and innuendo, by the way) and other sources, here are a few names that have popped up as potential replacements for Gillespie:
- Marshall Running Backs coach JaJuan Seider - Seider was a GA at WVU under Bill Stewart but left to take a paid position with Doc Holliday in Huntington. A strong recruiter in Florida with ties to the Mountaineers, Seider is considered the favorite to replace Gillespie. However, he is still young and does not have the rapport with Holgorsen or current staff members that would make him a shoo-in.
- Indiana Running Backs coach Deland McCullough - Played in the NFL for a few seasons and was a standout at Miami (OH), now coaches in a wide-open offense under former Oklahoma OC Kevin Wilson and alongside former WVU assistants Greg Frey and Rod Smith. Good ties to Ohio and considered an up-and-comer. Negatives include no apparent ties to Morgantown or any current coaches.
- Former Auburn Wide Receivers coach Trooper Taylor - Likely not coaching anywhere in 2013 after leaving the Auburn program in shambles alongside Gene Chizik, Taylor is considered to be a great recruiter with a ton of baggage in the form of potential NCAA infractions. Has experience at Baylor and Oklahoma State, but no direct ties to any current WVU assistants, though he did take over at Tulane immediately after RichRod left for Clemson. So there's that.
The bottom line is that WVU is always going to be a springboard for assistants. And really, that's the way we should want it. All good assistants want to better themselves (except Bud Foster), so they're constantly going to be in search of an upgrade to an elite program (like Oklahoma, or maybe Tennessee) or a promotion (to a coordinator or head coach). If your assistants aren't being hired for those positions, they probably suck and your team will probably suck too. WVU just has to use the resources it has (i.e. ties to the University or the State, ties to the head coach, or simply the chance to work with one of the game's bright young minds, together with the program stature we DO have) to attract up-and-comers like Seider or McCullough, or a displaced veteran such as Taylor.
Maybe another name shows up, but at this point, for WVU, there are no perfect candidates who will produce Heisman winners and stay in Morgantown til they retire. Any of these three look to be solid in terms of recruiting ability and on field results, so stay tuned to see whether one of them ends up showinghow to chip block this spring.