Mountaineer fans voiced their opinions in droves Saturday as WVU was handled by Oklahoma to the tune of 59-31.
Many were calling for coaching changes, something that is unfortunately way to common after a WVU loss. But be careful what you wish for.
There are multiple major college football programs looking to replace coaches this offseason, and many more that could potentially have schools calling for coaches on the WVU staff.
Sports Illustrated has named both WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson as “rising assistant coaches”.
6. Tony Gibson, West Virginia defensive coordinator: In a short period of time, Gibson has made a case to be the best defensive coordinator in the Big 12 and one of the most underrated in college football. After entering 2016 with only two returning starters following the loss of the Mountaineers’ best defensive player Dravon Askew-Henry on the eve of the season, Gibson’s unit was tops in the conference in total defense, scoring defense and fewest opponent first downs, and second in rushing defense during Big 12 play. No one gets more out of his defense than Gibson. This year, he again opens the season with only two starters back while standout linebacker David Long comes back from a meniscus injury (he probably will not return until October). Gibson would be a logical option at Appalachian State, Toledo, Marshall or Northern Illinois should any of those come open.
10. Jake Spavital, West Virginia offensive coordinator: A third-generation football coach, the 32-year-old Spavital returned to Morgantown (where he was the quarterbacks coach in 2011-12) to take over as play-caller on what should be a very potent offense with Will Grier at QB. Last year, Spavital directed a Cal offense that had to replace No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff and the team’s top six receivers and still produced the nation’s No. 10 offense, only a two-spot drop from the previous year. During his time at West Virginia, Texas A&M and Cal, Spavital has proven to be an elite recruiter, landing both five-star talent (Christian Kirk, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray) while also unearthing unheralded prospects who blossomed into stars (Kevin White, Daryl Worley and Josh Reynolds). He was also a big reason why Cal landed coveted grad transfer QB Davis Webb last year. If Philip Montgomery leaves Tulsa, Spavital—a Tulsa native who interviewed for the head coaching job there three years ago—would make a lot of sense.
As reported last week by Bruce Feldman, Jake Spavital is on the short list at South Alabama. Spavital has applied for head coaching positions in the past, he interviewed at Tulsa just a few years ago. With a resume that includes WVU, Texas A&M, and Cal it is only a matter of time before Spavital gets his chance to take the reigns somewhere.
Every offseason Tony Gibson’s name comes up with at least a few head coaching positions. While Gibson has never publicly made the final cut, he too, will at some point get his chance to take over a program.
Lastly, an interesting development presented itself on Saturday that, while unlikely, could have another WVU coach in the crosshairs.
Arizona State fired head coach Todd Graham after 6 seasons. Arizona State runs a very similar offense to West Virginia as made apparent two years ago when they played the Mountaineers in the Cactus Bowl. Do not be surprised if a WVU coach is considered for this position, albeit unlikely.
Lastly, it is not just head coaching positions that should worry WVU fans. With head coaching changes come changes to supporting staffs, This season WVU would be competing with schools such as Florida, Arkansas, Arizona State, Tennessee, Texas A&M,and Nebraska just to name a few.
Many of these schools will be looking to the lower ranks of college football. UCF is likely to lose their head coach, Scott Frost, to Florida or Nebraska. This would be a school that would look to the assistant coaching ranks for their next skipper.
Schools such as Memphis and Troy may also be looking to the assistant coaching ranks if their head coaches are poached for bigger programs.
In closing, this would be a tough season for WVU to compete for coaches. And while Mountaineer fans are quick to want change, it may not be in anyone’s best interest to jump into that market this offseason.
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