Today is a big day for those college football fans that follow recruiting, and even those who don’t follow it that closely. That is because the first Wednesday in February is the first day high school seniors can sign the letter of intent that binds them to the college of their choice. All those verbal commitments you have been reading about mean little in the whole scheme of things until their name appears on the dotted line.
Most kids who give a verbal commitment end up where they say they are going, but there are many who commit, but the chase for their services will continue in full force. For those who follow recruiting closely, the final month of recruiting can be maddening. Especially if you are a fan of a school that is trying to hold on to a couple high profile recruits that are still coveted by other schools.
At West Virginia University, the 2011 recruiting season has been interesting to say the least. The recruiting picture changed considerably in December when it was announced that head Coach Bill Stewart would be stepping down after the 2011 season and Dana Holgorsen would assume the head coaching position after serving as offensive coordinator for a season. Many times a change in the coaching staff can wreck a recruiting class like it may have at Pitt this season. The thing is, the only way anyone can really judge a class is after the kids in it have played a few seasons.
With that in mind, I tend to observe the recruiting from a distance. Being a WVU fan, I want the Mountaineers to attract the best players they can, but I remain aware that these classes are rarely as good, or as bad as they are projected on signing day.
A big factor in successful recruiting is recruiting kids that fit what a team does on the field and that will be very interesting this upcoming season in Morgantown. Not only will Holgorsen be installing his high-powered offense, but there will be this whole head coach in waiting dynamic to deal with as well.
Talk about an 800-pound gorilla in the room.
The head coach in waiting concept is not new, but the way it is being done at West Virginia may be a first. Typically, a head coach in waiting is a coordinator that has been in staff under a tenured and successful head coach. An example would be Jimbo Fisher under Bobby Bowden at Florida State. At WVU athletic director Oliver Luck went out and found a guy he wanted to be the head coach then offered his current head a choice of stepping down immediately or remaining the coach one more year to help in the transition. For financial reasons Stewart chose the latter.
Most observers understandably doubt this arrangement will work, but most also agree that if anyone can make it work it would be Stewart, the ultimate team player. Stewart has already cast some doubt as to how things will work with a statement to the effect that he is still the coach and he will still be making the decisions.
That was probably news to Holgorsen who, one would assume, has been promised full autonomy in running his offense. At a basketball game several weeks ago WVU president James Clements escorted Holgorsen and two of his new assistants to the student section for a handshake and back slapping session. That is not the kind of attention a university president seeks for an offensive coordinator.
Yes, it will indeed be interesting to see who really is in charge of this Mountaineer football team.