WVC football: Monroe’s future in question
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State University will complete its fourth consecutive losing football season at 1 p.m. Saturday when the Yellow Jackets pay a visit to the University of Charleston for a West Virginia Conference clash with their arch rival.
State Coach Earl Monroe is ready to accept the consequences when the game ends that afternoon.
"It crosses your mind, but you have so much stuff to do," said Monroe, who is dealing with speculation that his job is in jeopardy. "We always have pressure to win football games. It barely crosses my mind, then I'll go watch film and prepare. This is a big enough challenge itself. That will take care of itself on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday ... whenever. It's not my decision."
Monroe expects to be evaluated early next week, but isn't sure what to expect when he meets with State Athletic Director Sean Loyd or President Brian Hemphill.
"Whatever happens, happens," Monroe said. "I just worry about my players and my assistant coaches."
Monroe took over in 2006 and the Yellow Jackets finished 5-6. They followed with back-to-back 7-3 seasons, which included a 5-0 start in 2008.
One of those victories that season was 24-21 road win against the University of Charleston.
State (2-8, 1-6 WVC) isn't expected to match that feat this week against Golden Eagles (8-2, 5-2), who have motivation as the seventh-ranked team in Super Region One and in need of a convincing victory and help to make the playoffs.
None of that concerns Monroe as much as preparing his team to salvage a tough campaign that began with promise - a 34-31 win over Johnson C. Smith - but has been whittled to a five-game losing streak entering the season finale.
The Yellow Jackets have surrendered 212 points during their current losing skid. Lack of depth, which was exacerbated by injuries at key positions, has played a role in State's demise this season.
Monroe said he anticipates improvements in the football program, which includes a financial boost in the form of scholarships and/or more full-time paid assistants.
"I have heard, and they have to (improve things)," Monroe said. "When they were talking about searching for presidents, we were saying it's in black and white. Whoever comes in and opens the books will say, 'Wow, is this what they got?'
"We talk to other coaches and they're whining and crying and we say, 'Look, we have 12 full rides."
Either way, the 25-year member of the State coaching staff figures it's a long time coming, with or without him.
That staff includes Monroe and offensive coordinator Kip Shaw - the only two full-time members. The third member receives a stipend, Monroe said.
* * *
THE GOLDEN EAGLES (8-2) will be keeping their fingers crossed this weekend if they can get past the Yellow Jackets.
Coach Pat Kirkland's team is one win and a little help away from earning the school's first spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Charleston is seventh in Super Region One - the top six teams in each region make the playoffs - and one spot behind fellow WVC member Shepherd.
The fifth-place team, Indiana University of Pa. of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, plays No. 1 Shippensburg in the PSAC title game this weekend.
Shepherd, meanwhile, will get a visit from Fairmont State.
"It's tough to speculate, but a number of things could occur," Kirkland said. "Obviously, a Shepherd loss would help drastically, but there are no guarantees.
"We are just focused on Senior Day (Saturday) and playing a very athletic West Virginia State team."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.