I think our fan base has had enough time to get over the sting of that loss on Saturday - partially aided by an amazing comeback victory by Bob Huggins’ squad - so it’s probably time to tie up some loose ends on the 2017 West Virginia football season as we head into the bowl game. I’ll, of course, start with the one topic that is taking up a considerable amount of space in everyone’s mind right now...
WILL GRIER AND THE NFL
Ok, listen closely. The only people that know what the Mountaineer signal caller is going to do, at this point, is Will Grier and his immediate family. Even then, that may be up in the air, because there are a lot of variables that are going to play into his decision. Dana Holgorsen may have an idea of which way Grier is leaning, but he’s going to let Will make the best decision for him and his family.
You’re going to hear rumors over the next few weeks that Grier is going to declare for the NFL Draft. They’re going to be attributed to people somewhat close to him; his grandma, his uncle, someone’s friend’s sister who has taken a dance class with Jeanne Grier. Those types of “sources” are the ones you always see pop up in situations like this. They are hard to verify, and nine times out of ten they’re completely made up by someone just wanting to stir the pot.
With that said, do not be surprised if you do see legitimate media sources tweet about Grier filing the paperwork for an evaluation in the next couple weeks. It’s completely normal for juniors who are right there on the edge of early entry into the NFL to test the waters and see what the folks in the league are thinking. It’s not the end of the world.
The key date to remember here is January 15, 2018. That is the cutoff date for college underclassmen to file the paperwork to enter themselves in the NFL Draft if they like the evaluations they received in the weeks leading up to this date. If we make it to that date without hearing from legitimate sources that Grier has thrown his hat in the ring, we can celebrate.
If Grier does file the paperwork before that deadline, we can probably start the Jack Allison hype train. While it is extremely rare, Grier could hold off on signing an agent until after actually being drafted to retain his eligibility. I can only think of one time this has happened in recent years - Matt Elam in 2013 - so don’t count on this scenario.
Just hold tight and don’t let yourselves go crazy worrying about a decision you have no control over.
THE BOWL GAME
West Virginia will find out their bowl fate this coming Sunday, after the College Football Playoff selection show. Right now, there is nothing concrete to say where the Mountaineers will end up. The Big 12’s bowl selections are not like what we used to see in the Big East. Andy wrote a nice breakdown about this yesterday, with his predictions. Realistically, there are probably three real options for the Mountaineers; Camping World, Liberty, and Cactus. I can tell you that before the Texas loss and Grier’s injury, things were trending toward Orlando. It’s unclear how that affects things now, but we will all find out on Sunday.
Sorry, Dana Haters, you’re stuck with Holgorsen for another year. Shane Lyons is not going to fire Dana, even if we were to lose in the bowl game and finish 7-6. It doesn’t matter how hard you beat that drum, it’s just not happening.
For argument sake, I’ll play into the scenario that for whatever reason it does. Let’s say it’s January 1, 2018 and Lyons were to decide its time to make a change. If that is the case, West Virginia would owe Holgorsen $3 million plus 60% of the remaining three years of his contract, roughly $6.3 million. I’m sorry, but we aren’t ponying up almost nine and a half million dollars to fire someone after a solid season.
“BUT WHAT IF HE LEAVES!?” you may be shouting at your phone/computer monitor. While, I guess technically it’s possible, I don’t see it to be probable. Dana’s name has not been mentioned for any of the open coaching jobs right now outside of one Bruce Feldman tweet about the Arizona State vacancy, and I don’t think that’s going to happen either. The Sun Devils aren’t going to fire a coach that went 7-5 to replace him with another coach that just went 7-5.
As far as the assistant coaches, the only coach I could maybe see not being here in 2018 is Jake Spavital, but I think that only happens if he were to take a low-level head coaching job. Spav’s name was floated for that South Alabama opening, which wouldn’t be a terrible place for someone looking to start their head coaching career.
So just sit back and watch other programs - or just Tennessee, really - completely embarrass themselves.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about this really, really good recruiting class Dana Holgorsen is building. We’re currently in the Rivals Top 20 and the 247 Top 25, that’s huge after a disappointing 2017 class ranking. We are looking at the best WVU recruiting class to date. That is how you build actual depth, and that is how you begin to compete for conference championships.
A large part of this class will be making their commitment official during the new December early signing period that the NCAA has created, which takes place December 20-22. We will be keeping you updated on all the signings as they are announced.