DALLAS - Dana Holgorsen spent much of Tuesday answering basically the same questions he's been asked for the last nine months, or since West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12 Conference.No surprise there.The questioners were just different as a general rule, what with the core of the league's media reps having their first en masse, face-to-face look at the Mountaineers and their head coach at the Big 12's football media event at the Westin Galleria.While all of the answers were basically the same as they've been for months, Holgorsen did manage to put a bit of new and logical twist on one of the most frequent queries, namely how participating in a football conference so far away from home might affect the school's strong base of traveling fans.
The bottom line? Face it, folks, it wouldn't matter much if Norman, Okla., or Austin, Texas, were two-hour drives from Morgantown instead of two-day treks. West Virginia fans aren't likely to be able to go as freely as they did in the Big East anyway."Our fan base is worried about the travel. Well, I've got news for you. You're not going to those road games anyway,'' Holgorsen said, not in a mean-spirited way but in as a practical matter. "There's no tickets. The days of us sending 15,000 people to Pitt or Cincinnati or Syracuse or UConn or Rutgers, it doesn't exist in the Big 12. There's no tickets.''It's the same reason why opposing teams' fans seldom are able to flock to games in Morgantown. True, part of that might be a general lack of interest on the part of those fans (How many regularly follow Rutgers on the road, for example?), but even if they did, where would they sit?"How many fans come to Morgantown, West Virginia, from the opposing team? It's usually about 4,000 people [at most] because that's all the tickets that are available,'' Holgorsen said. "So the days of being able to take 15, 20,000 people to different venues, those days don't exist in the Big 12 because everybody's the same way at home. Everybody packs their stadium and everybody gives the opponent about 4,000 tickets."So my suggestion to the people of West Virginia is to make sure you come to every home game and then pick a road game and go travel once a year.''nn
Holgorsen addressed a couple of personnel issues Tuesday, eight days before players report on Aug. 1 and begin practicing the next day.First, there could be as many as four players from the signed recruiting class who don't make it academically and will have to stay home or enroll elsewhere (a junior college or prep school perhaps).Although Holgorsen can't talk about it in great detail, linebacker Sam Lebbie from Washington is a certain casualty. The three others are running back Roshard Burney from Florida and wide receivers Dee Joyner from Miami and Deontay McManus from Baltimore."It's something we're talking about [today],'' Holgorsen said, referring to a meeting on the status of the roster scheduled for when he arrives back from Dallas. "We're still evaluating it and waiting on a few factors to try to figure it out.''As for current players, at least three projected starters ran afoul of the law during the winter with bone-headed moves. In January, star receiver Stedman Bailey was cited but not arrested for taking a bottle of cold medicine from a Kroger store ("What's he thinking?'' asked one WVU official. "He gets free medical as part of his scholarship.'').
Then in May, defensive backs Terrence Garvin and Darwin Cook were arrested for shoplifting snacks from a Sheetz convenience store."You wake up every morning in the summer and watch the ticker to see if anything happened,'' Holgorsen said.Holgorsen issued the standard response that all three matters were being handled internally. When asked if any of the three might miss playing time as a result, he repeated his assertion that "It's being handled internally.''nn
To wrap up a few loose ends:Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was generally spared questions about Holgorsen, who was his offensive coordinator for a year (2010) before going to West Virginia. But that's not the only ex-Cowboy coach at WVU.
Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest was at OSU as safeties coach and, perhaps more significantly, one of the best special teams coordinators in the country for 11 years."Obviously, Joe did a great job for us and with him being at West Virginia now we'll have to alter and change some things that we've done because he's got a pretty good idea of who we are and what we do,'' Gundy said. "But for the most part the way we prepare, the way we practice, our thought process will stay very similar.''Texas coach Mack Brown recruited a group of about 10 cheerleaders in the hallway to accompany him to the print media portion of his interview process Tuesday.
"I asked the ladies to come in and if I had any hard questions I would let them support me,'' Brown said.He managed without them.New Kansas coach Charlie Weis has no problem bringing in transfers. His starting quarterback and a team captain is the prized QB he recruited at Notre Dame four years ago, Dayne Crist. There are plenty of others, too.
So when asked about the possibility of bringing in Penn State players who were just given NCAA permission to transfer without penalty if they choose, Weis didn't bother resorting to political correctness answer like almost every other coach does."Yes,'' he said when asked if he'd looked at Penn State's roster."I'll elaborate just a tad. So I think that, first of all, you have to be respectful to [first-year Penn State] Coach [Bill] O'Brien and the people who are trying to make good of a bad situation. But, at the same time, the rules are the rules. And when the dust settles I think there will be several players that entertain the thought of going somewhere else, especially the way it was presented to them. So I think that any program that didn't do homework prior to this decision coming out was behind on that one.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.