Holgorsen, offensive staff ready to work
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Dana Holgorsen's tenure at West Virginia began in action, if not in actuality, Wednesday morning. It was National Signing Day across college football and the offensive coordinator for 2011 and head coach beginning in 2012 would preside over the first class of recruits he'd one day coach.
The ceremonial part of the day, though, came when a delivery truck arrived at the team's facility, unloaded cases of Red Bull and sent them inside the Puskar Center, where they'd join a cache of Monster Energy Drink to satiate the energy-starved Holgorsen.
"It's all the same, all has the same effect. I'm not too picky," Holgorsen said with a shrug of his shoulders and a tip of the cap to the first quirk people have learned about him in the brief time he's been with the Mountaineers.
Oddly enough, the drinks arrived at a time when Holgorsen will relax for a few days and let his feet hit the floor for the first time since arriving in December and spending virtually all of last month recruiting.
"The coaches are probably getting tired of one another now, the guys on offense especially who've been traveling around together the last few weeks," Holgorsen said Thursday, in his first casual get-together with the media and an opportunity to introduce new offensive assistants Bill Bedenbaugh, Shannon Dawson and Robert Gillespie. "We've got to take a few days off and then get to work starting to coach these guys."
Holgorsen said the staff will return Feb. 14, begin working two hours a week with film and then evaluate six hours a week with an eye on the weight room and conditioning.
"That's basically where we get to know the players and hopefully get to the point where they're OK when they go outside to do things on their own," Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen and the new coaches have had brief interactions with players and most of that has been this week.
He said he brought "thousands" of video clips that are cut up into packages that show Oklahoma State plays, formations and approaches for certain situations, like against a particular blitz.
"They're coming in and watching the tape a little bit, but they don't know what they're looking at," he said. "I appreciate their efforts, but they don't know what they're looking at."
Holgorsen was then determined to make certain neither he nor anyone on the staff or under the staff's responsibility was watching the film with players.
"We're doing our best to abide by the rules of compliance around here - I get scared even saying that word," Holgorsen said, knowing quite well the team's NCAA infractions case is still ongoing. "We're following the rules. Put that in the headlines."
Holgorsen said he has met frequently and speaks every day with Keli Cunningham, the associate athletic director for governance and compliance.
"I feel like we're dating," he said.
Any head start the Mountaineers can get before spring practice is useful, but Holgorsen said the installation of his offense will be pretty simple. The 15 spring practices will be spread evenly over five weeks, beginning March 29. WVU will practice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the first four weeks and have the spring game on the final Saturday, either April 22 or April 29.
Holgorsen said the offense will be installed by the end of the third practice.
"It's all in a week," he said. "That's what I like about the schedule. We get through the whole offense in a week and then we go back and revisit it and try to refine it a little bit and get a little better at it, but the kids will never practice back-to-back days. That gives us meeting time between practices. It's drawn out over five weeks, but it's better over five weeks. I've done it both ways."
This will be the third time in four seasons Holgorsen has installed an offense at a new school. He spent the past season at Oklahoma State and was at Houston the previous two years. Giving the players days off and time to absorb and develop what they learned in practice has proven to be productive.
"We're not wasting practices because we're tired or whatever," Holgorsen said. "There are no excuses for not being ready due to the fact we never practice back-to-back days. Plus, they have weekends off, which always makes them happy."
WEDNESDAY FEATURED another oddity at WVU. The school released a statement saying Gillespie, the new running backs coach, would remain at the school after interviewing for a job at Florida.
Gillespie played at the University of Florida and was on the SEC's all-freshman team in 1998. He was a captain in 2001 and played for the Washington Redskins in the NFL the following two years. He was courted by new Gators coach Will Muschamp.
"The opportunity to go to Florida presented itself a couple nights ago and obviously didn't work out and it wasn't the right time for me," Gillespie said.
The release by the university is extraordinarily rare, but it did come on signing day. Gillespie, who, most notably, recruited running back Andrew Buie, from Jacksonville, Fla., to WVU, said his status was being used against him and the Mountaineers.
"Some other schools and guys got wind of it and tried to use it negatively and tried to recruit and say, 'Hey, it's not true. He's not going to stay. He's going,'" Gillespie said. "We felt it was appropriate to put it out. It was something that, in this profession, if it doesn't have to be known to the media, we try not to make it known.
"The parties at Florida and here already handled that behind the scenes, but somebody at another university other than the two schools who had conversations tried to use it. We felt it was appropriate to put a statement out. Hopefully it helped. I think it did."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.