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Josh Eilert has a tough task ahead of him

If the new interim Mountaineer head coach wants to avoid damaging his legitimacy, there has to be difficult conversations

WVU Athletics

The search for Bob Huggins’ successor at West Virginia ultimately circled back to the logical choice with Josh Eilert being promoted to interim head coach, but the process was marred by confusion and speculation. Despite the messy search, Eilert now faces the challenge of leading a team that had high expectations for the upcoming season, but faces uncertainties with key players entering the transfer portal — including Tre Mitchell, who has already shown interest in Kentucky.

Eilert’s first task is to re-recruit the portal trio, which is made easier by the existing coaching staff’s continuity. However, the allure of financial opportunities in the Wild West of the NIL era poses a significant challenge as players may be enticed with a bigger bag being dangled in front of them. If Eilert manages to keep the team together, it would be a significant accomplishment, but he must then navigate one of the toughest conferences in the country, a daunting task for a former video coordinator-turned-assistant.

However, Eilert’s ultimate challenge lies in establishing his own identity and authority within the team. With reports of Bob Huggins believing he can make a return in the future, concerns arise that Eilert may become a figurehead while Huggins controls everything behind the scenes, which would hinder Eilert’s credibility. It is crucial for Eilert to assert that this is his team, even if it means having difficult conversations with the Hall of Fame head coach whom he has worked under for 16 years. Clarifying this boundary is not an easy task, but it is necessary for the sake of Eilert’s own career, the team, and the program’s reputation

I have confidence that Eilert will keep the team together, at least for the most part. It seems as though Mitchell has one foot out the door, but I feel good about Kerr and Toots staying in Morgantown. I have faith that Eilert can step up to the challenge and lead the Mountaineers to a respectable record, maybe even a tournament bid. Perhaps it might even turn out to be another Erik Spoelstra video coordinator-turned-successful head coach story.

Do I have confidence that he’ll be able to block out Huggins’ outside influence? That I’m not entirely sure.

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