The Grand National Championships

December 18, 2007

You’re West Virginia Football…

You have Pat White Power. You have a one-two punch of Steve Slaton and Noel Devine. You also have a coach who ditched you in a lateral move at best. (The Cult of Personality disagrees with that move.)

So, how do you keep your program in the national eye? How do you not become one of the ugly people who always ends up playing in the Gaylord Meineke Bowl?

You turn to me.

I can give you your next great coach. I can make certain you have more than a BCS game every so often. Let me take you through your candidates.

1) Terry Bowden


  • He ran the table in his first season at Auburn.
  • 2 year letterwinner for the Mountaineers.
  • Can use his media experience to work for him.


  • Short. I mean he is like a toy poodle.
  • Does not play well with powerful alumni.
  • Less regarded than brother Tommy, and Tommy’s only won 58% of his conference games.

Bottom Line: It’s not a visionary move. It’s not an inspired move. His record fell off when his players started to play at Auburn. I would pass on a Bowden in Morgantown.

2) Jimbo Fisher



  • An agile offensive mind. It will keep Slaton in tow.
  • Moutaineer Born. Mountaineer Bred.
  • Tutored great college quarterbacks such as JaMarcus Russell and Matt Mauck.


  • Bielema to Bobby Bowden’s Barry Alvarez
  • He would limit Pat White’s power as the quarterback at West Virginia.
  • 2.5 million dollar buyout.

Bottom Line: A solid B+ hire. There would be a period of adjustment dropoff for the Mountaineers, but they would remain as a yearly BCS contender if they paid the cost.

3) Todd Graham



  • Had success at two stops.
  • An assistant under the Rodriguez Regime. Has coached with two fast rising offensive coordiantiors in Applewhite and Malzahn.
  • Knows the offense, sure. But he won at Rice. That’s impressive.


  • It would be his third stop in three years. You may not have heard of him, but he could very well be the next Petrino or Saban. That is greater than or equal to do not want.

Bottom Line: If he didn’t vibe as a snake in the grass social climber, it would be an awesome hire. But he seems like West Virginia would be one last stepping stone for him.

4) Mike Locksley



  • Runs the spread offense that made Juice Williams the man he is today.
  • A sharply talented recruiter.
  • He knows the Eastern Seaboard. 


  • African-American (It’s sad but true, Pollyana. They won’t hire the man for such a high profile job.)
  • He is little known. (No wikipedia page).
  • Career assistant who hasn’t been in many big game situations.

Bottom Line: It would be an excellent hire. But a team with national championship aspirations, they may not go with the no-name.

5) Butch Jones



  • Successful MAC Coach
  • Ex-WVU Assistant
  • Turned Dan LeFevour into an absolute monster. (Would turn Pat White into something awesome.)
  • Kept CMU at a high level after Brian Kelly left.


  • Vibes as a coach who needs to get another transition job to West Virginia.
  • Also, spent eight years as a Coach within the confines of Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Bottom Line: My personal choice. He would be a great coach at West Virginia. A longshot? Sure. But he’d be as good as Locksley.

My choices?

1. Jones
2. Locksley
3. Fisher
4. Graham
5. Bowden

WVU’s Choices?
1. Bowden
2. Fisher
3. Graham
4. Locksley
5. Jones

Odds on the hire? Jimbo Fisher

UPDATE I: Added Bud Foster and Doc Holliday into the mix here…



  1. The Harrisburg Patriot-News is reporting that Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has been contacted by WVU. He has a great relationship with Pryor.

    Comment by We Are...Penn State email list — December 18, 2007 @ 7:50 am |Reply

  2. I support Mike Locksley as the new coach. Todd Graham looks like a middle-aged weirdo raper guy comin out of nowhere!

    Comment by Elvi Patterson! — December 18, 2007 @ 11:25 am |Reply

  3. Great post. What about Chris Petersen, though? Tell me that guy couldn’t win here.

    Comment by Justin Seibert — December 18, 2007 @ 1:23 pm |Reply

  4. Jimbo Fisher: A solid B+ hire. …a yearly BCS contender.

    Lemme see, West Virginia has been in the championship hunt yearly when? Perhaps, your standards are too high if a yearly BCS contender* only warrants a B+. Other than USC, name one school that has been a yearly BCS contender over a six-year period (which is the measure of any coach worth his salt). IOW, coaches catch breaks and you most definitely cannnot expect a school/coach to be there EVERY year. If Jimbo can actually make WV a yearly contender, that’s a no-brainer, you pay and hire him.

    *Contending to be part of any one of the BCS bowls or contending to be in the BCS championship bowl? I read it as yearly BCS bowl participant.

    Comment by bilge pump — December 18, 2007 @ 1:57 pm |Reply

  5. Fisher isn’t going to WVU. He just inked his ‘Head Coach in Waiting’ contract yesterday at FSU, meaning he’s got 1 maybe 2 years before he’s the head man at FSU.

    I see Terry Bowden being announced as the new HC in 2 – 3 days. Butch Jones is a great candidate, though.

    p.s. How about a darkhorse? Bud Foster at VaTech? Is there any way to talk Cutcliffe out of Duke and coming to WVU? Surely that’s a job he would like over the wasteland that is Duke football.

    Comment by RK — December 18, 2007 @ 2:10 pm |Reply

  6. TCU’s Gary Patterson? The Star-Telegram reported he was inline for Arkansas if Petrino had passed.

    Comment by matt — December 18, 2007 @ 2:34 pm |Reply

  7. LeFevour was already a known quantity after a stellar year under Brian Kelly, not sure how much of that I can credit towards Butch Jones. As a CMU alum, most of us were not exactly thrilled to have a former Mike DeBord assistant taking the helm. I’ll credit Jones for doing a solid job in MAC play, but his team got destroyed in 4 non-conference games. Not that they should have won those games, but they certainly should have been more competitive in them.

    Comment by Jerkwheat — December 18, 2007 @ 2:50 pm |Reply

  8. lefevour was already a monster, butch jones doesnt deserve the credit for his outstanding season, look at lefevours season last year d bag

    Comment by jimmyjoeblacksmithq — December 18, 2007 @ 3:20 pm |Reply

  9. I’m working backwards.

    jjblacksmith: LeFevour went from great to Tim Tebow without the ability to grab high class trim, even losing his two top receivers in Cetoute and Linson. Jones may not deserve as much credit as I gave him, but the fact remains he deserves a piece of the LeFevour credit.

    Jerkwheat: I will give you that North Dakota State and Clemson were inexcusable. Kansas bore out as reasonably defensible, fat guy in a little coat style, and Jones can get redemption if they win the Motor City Bowl vs. Purdue.

    I still think he found spread religion in his two years at WVU.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 4:52 pm |Reply

  10. Matt and Justin,

    Gary Patterson and Chris Peterson would be great hires by the Mountaineers. (Peterson especially would keep them at a level that they were accustomed.)

    However, they are not on the Mountaineers radar at present. Desperation in a coaching search means never say never, however.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 4:55 pm |Reply

  11. Rewriting to JJ Blacksmith:

    Disregard my last comment, it was stupid. Jones developed the run game behind LeFevour without Joe Staley. He made it so you could not key on him. Would Pat White or Steve Slaton be nearly as effective without their tag team partner?


    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 5:04 pm |Reply

  12. bilge: I did mean National Championship Contender, and a top 5 team. I sometimes have blogging ADD.

    I do think there would be transitional pains. Fisher is more of a straight up, balanced attack type. But by 2010, the magazines would list WVU with USC and LSU.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 5:10 pm |Reply

  13. RK: Foster is a darkhorse, but he is on the radar. He’d make the defense deadly, and if he was able to leave the spread offense alone?

    Another good hire, better than Bowden by far.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 5:16 pm |Reply

  14. A Terrelle Pryor guaranteed commital could put anybody to the front of the WVU line.

    Todd Graham makes you fear he is going to forcefully sex you until you love him.

    And as for David Cutcliffe, there is a retread stigma, also, heart problems. If he’d take the Duke job there must be something wrong with him and whatnot.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 5:21 pm |Reply

  15. Bud Foster would be an excellent hire. He would develop an outstanding defense immediately. Look at VaTech now, terrible offense and ranked #3 soley because of the D. As the saying goes, offense wins games, defense wins championships. He can get someone else to run the spread while he runs the other side of the ball. Great choice.

    Comment by BZ — December 18, 2007 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  16. I think the choice has been made. It’s Doc Holiday, Associate Head Coach for the Florida Gators! Former WVU player and coach. He is recruiting coordinator for the Gators. That’s a big plus. The UF Head Coach kind of let the “cat out of the bag” with his comments this evening!

    Comment by John Cook — December 18, 2007 @ 8:18 pm |Reply

  17. If it is Doc Holiday then the average reader will be annoyed by the references to Huckleberrys in that Doc Holiday is yours.

    Comment by Andrew — December 18, 2007 @ 10:37 pm |Reply

  18. How about some really far out candidates:

    1) Leavitt of USF. Let’s face it, USF has owned WVU the last few years. Great recruiting contacts in Florida and one of his former assistants (Greg Frey) is on the WVU staff. What’s the saying… if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

    2) Davis of UNC. He rebuilt Miami into a powerhouse only to leave for the pros before he could cash in. He would take his shot at a national title a lot more seriously than Rodriguez. Minimal flight risk if you could sign him.

    3) Norm Chow of the Titans. More of a pro-style OC *but* has been coaching VY for the last two years so he’s familiar with how to build an offense around an athletic, mobile QB. Given his age he could be considered “disposable”. If he doesn’t win the title next year, you could just replace him.

    Here is my take on the top 3 as mentioned above:

    1) Terry Bowden: Out of coaching too long. His recruiting contacts and assistant coaching contacts are useless. He needs to show some success in the MAC or C-USA first. Taking Rice or SMU to a bowl game would be a nice start.

    2) Jimbo Fisher: Even though FSU ain’t what it used to be, he’d be crazy to leave. FSU is still a big name in a recruiting mecca.

    3) Todd Graham: Has the potential to be Petrino-Rodriguez-Saban all rolled into one. An up and coming coach who will burn *someone* big time on his way to a Big 12, SEC, or Big 10 gig.

    As an aside, I heard a comment by Rodriguez that he plans to retire from Michigan. Guess he’s planning on early retirement…

    Comment by Skibibitz — December 18, 2007 @ 11:24 pm |Reply

  19. Wow seems like you do this a lot and very well if i might add. I was wondering if you could give me a couple poiters or just even read my stuff to see if it’s any good. My link is Any help is appreciated!

    Comment by tarrheelsfan09 — December 19, 2007 @ 6:58 am |Reply

  20. Terry Bowden is a fossil. The face of the game has completely changed from 1998. In his prime he was a mediocre coach at best. The success that Auburn had was do to the recruiting of former coach Pat Dye not Bowden. When his recruits came about is when the program slipped. That is why he was asked to resign in 1998. My pick for the Head coach position and who is not on the list is Bud Foster. College football greatest defensive mind. Young Innovative and smart. A perfict fit in Morgantown. He has been instrumental in Virginia Tech’s success over the past 9 years. He can provide the missing link that can carry us to a National title. He is the next Petrino!!

    Comment by Sylvester — December 19, 2007 @ 4:18 pm |Reply

  21. Skibibitz: Leavitt would actually be a very savvy hire. But the issue is that Leavitt was at USF from the beginning. Kind of like Bobby Bowden at Florida State, Jim Leavitt built the program from the ground up.

    Butch Davis would be a fine hire, down the road. Why he wouldn’t get hired is that he would force a change for Pat White and Steve Slaton’s senior year.

    Chow is visionary thinking. One of the most agile offensive minds and he has shown a willingness to use his resources. That being said, he’s a West Coast boy and UCLA is very interested.

    Comment by Andrew — December 20, 2007 @ 10:50 am |Reply

  22. tarheelsfan: My big advice for you? Be patient. If it wasn’t for a fluke google search during the NFL draft, I wouldn’t have hit over 10 views in my first month. The world of sports blogs and blogs in general is a logjam. It takes a while for your voice and talent to find its way.

    Also, keep your eyes everywhere. You’ll never know what makes interesting blogging.

    Comment by Andrew — December 20, 2007 @ 10:57 am |Reply

  23. Sylvester: Bobby Petrino is not exactly a compliment. And Bud Foster has been at Va Tech for 20 years.

    Comment by Andrew — December 20, 2007 @ 10:59 am |Reply

  24. […] is still an X-Factor that for which yo w Like any good coaching search, new candidates emerge. I brought you a top five. And you brought me two more candidates to vette. Thus? I come back with Bonus […]

    Pingback by You’re West Virginia Football (Bonus Coverage) « The Grand National Championships — December 20, 2007 @ 3:39 pm |Reply

  25. Mike Locksley is the best hire. Up and coming star power! Just what the program at WVU needs.

    BTW – Pat White is already awesome!

    Comment by WVUFanForever — December 21, 2007 @ 3:52 pm |Reply

  26. I think that Stewart is the best option for WVU head coach, next would be Doc Holliday. The absolute last choice should be Terry Bowden. We are looking for the best coach,not nostalgia.

    Comment by Jim Weltner — December 22, 2007 @ 2:10 pm |Reply

  27. […] @ 8:25 pm Tags: Bubble Watch, College Orange Rounds We here at the Grand National Championships enjoy the athletic works that reside within the Mountaineer State. And as we continue to ease on down the […]

    Pingback by Bubble Watch: West Virginia Mountaineers « The Grand National Championships — February 27, 2008 @ 8:25 pm |Reply

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