Breaking down Luck's statement on football
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mountain State masses had been waiting.
Finally, on Tuesday, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck spoke to the issue of Mountaineer football via a release.
It was as expected. It was what the Gazette has been foreshadowing for its readers. It was all Luck: a measured statement released after consideration.
Judging the initial feedback through social media, the statement satisfied very few Mountaineer fans. It simply announced where WVU's administration stands and snuffed speculation.
But let's go through it together.
"First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season," said Luck via the release. "Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first-year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
"We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach [Dana] Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field. Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas."
What that says to me is Luck called Holgorsen on the carpet and the coach said he needs more help to make WVU more attractive. Anyone who knows Luck knows he did indeed go over the football setup point by point. He is a meticulous man. And what we've learned about Holgorsen is he doesn't back down. It would have been interesting to be in the room for the conversations.
"I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing," Luck continued in the release. "In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect."
That's the most important paragraph. Mountaineer fans, Holgorsen remains your coach. Also, despite the late-game stumbles, strength and conditioning director Mike Joseph will remain in place. The latter is somewhat surprising.
"We had plenty of challenges this season," the release continued, "nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
"Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
"We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
"We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University. We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future."
In short, Luck is telling all he's sticking out his neck for Holgorsen. He's telling Holgorsen he's sticking his neck out for Holgorsen.
Sure there's a costly buyout if Luck wanted to fire the coach. Where there's a will, however, there's always a way. Instead, Luck is trusting Holgorsen to recruit better players. He's insisting Holgorsen and staff get their act together in regard to coaching and not leave victories on the field.
Also, though, Luck is allowing Holgorsen to make calls in regard to the staff. The athletic director calls it continuity. (I really believe Luck respects most of the staff.)
But it seems the athletic director is also telling Holgorsen it's his deal now. Luck swam against tide in supporting him. Now it's on the coach to sink or swim.
There's big news swirling around the University of Charleston's athletic department.
According to athletic director Bren Stevens, the Golden Eagles will be adding men's track as well as cross country for the 2014 school year.
"We've made the decision within the last two weeks," Stevens said. "We had people asking about it and it makes sense with a great facility like UC Stadium.
"We have women's track and cross country, but the teams coming in also wanted their men to be able to compete. Also, this might help us recruit for the women's teams."
Stevens said the school will initially bring 15 male athletes on board to compete and move from there. UC has 28 women competing in track and cross country coached by John Paul Blankenship.
It's refreshing to hear men's teams are being added instead of cut.
And finally . . .
I spent much of Tuesday doing research in order to vote for the All-Big 12 football teams.
It'll be interesting to see how others vote. Aside from the first and second units, I went with Baylor's Art Briles for coach of the year, Texas's Jackson Jeffcoat for defensive player of the year, Baylor's Bryce Petty as the slam-dunk offensive player of the year and WVU's Charles Sims as the offensive newcomer of the year.
But here's a tidbit on a player for whom I didn't vote. His name is Demetri Goodson. Perhaps his nickname of "Meech" is so close to my first name it caught my attention.
Whatever the case, Goodson was second in the Big 12 in passes defended as a defensive back. (His brother Mike is on the New York Jets' roster.) The neat part is he was a two-year starter at point guard for Gonzaga - which visits WVU next Tuesday - before transferring to Baylor to play football.
And there's a kicker to the story. If you go to Goodson's bio you'll see an interesting birthplace.
It's Charleston, W.Va.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.