Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

February 10, 2014

Column: Is Patterson’s departure another setback for WVU football?

MORGANTOWN — The sudden voluntary departure of defensive coordinator Keith Patterson last week seemingly could be another setback for West Virginia’s sagging football program.

With spring practice starting in just a few weeks, it obviously adds to Dana Holgorsen’s problems in preparing his football team for the 2014 campaign. It’s generally considered a very crucial situation for his fourth year as a head coach, all at the Mountaineers helm.

Making this matter all the more mysterious, The Dominion Post revealed on Monday that Patterson will receive less money ($450,000) and less job security at Arizona State.

He was receiving a base annual salary of $500,000 at WVU, with incentives and an extended contract. ASU gives all of its assistant coaches one-year contracts and no incentives.

Patterson’s resignation was announced just one day after the national signing date of recruits. Patterson was not present when Holgorsen revealed that WVU had signed 15 new players to grant-in-aids.

According to reports, Patterson left to rejoin Todd Graham, now the head coach at Arizona State. That’s now official.

In a simple “advisory note to the media,” Holgorsen confirmed Patterson’s leaving. He stated that “I want to thank Keith for his time that he spent coaching in our program.

“He was a valuable member of our staff, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

What has become something of a common response to unexplained athletic developments at WVU, the advisory in this matter ended with “the school will have no further comment at this time.”

It sounds to me like this is just another example of a public concern raising questions and getting no answers.

Some people are of the opinion that WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck should be more communicative with the media on major matters in the department.

He’s being paid a reported $700,000 base salary, plus incentives. That’s about three times what Ed Pastilong received and he served 21 years as AD.

But you rarely see him hold a press conference or quoted in West Virginia newspapers. So it’s really hard for some of us on the WVU sports beat to really know what the AD does.

As for Holgorsen, whose team last year won just four games, and lost eight, he now faces the necessity of hiring a fourth defensive coordinator in the last three years.

What’s more, whoever replaces Patterson — if not already on staff — will be the 13th different defensive assistant coach since Holgorsen took over the reins in 2011.

If West Virginia is to bounce back with a winning record this fall, you’d think that defense would have to be a major factor.

Because of numbers in juniors, last season’s defensive unit ranked among the nation’s worst in several categories. It finished 101st in total defense (455 yards per game), 99th in scoring defense (33.3 ppg) and 106th in pass defense (263.3 yards per game).

Those averages were even poorer in 2012, so there had been hope for further improvement in 2014.


• • •

That final score of 83-69 in the loss by the WVU men’s basketball team at nationally No. 8-ranked Kansas on Saturday is most misleading to anyone who did not see the game.

Coach Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers stayed within shooting distance with the Big 12’s No. 1 team, nip and tuck, until the final five minutes.

It looked like outmanned WVU simply ran out of gas. You’ve got to give those gallant guys a heap of credit.

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MICKEY FURFARI