News, Notes & Rumors – April 17
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Since Bob Huggins returned to West Virginia in the spring of 2007 to take over as the Mountaineers’ head men’s basketball coach, his program has enjoyed remarkable stability within its staff.
Two of his three assistant coaches, Larry Harrison and Erik Martin, have been with Huggins since day one. Josh Eilert, who is currently the director of basketball operations, has also been with Huggs since the beginning, serving in various roles along the way. Even Jay Kuntz, who started out as a student manager in 2008 and is currently the assistant to the head coach, has been working for Huggins’ program for a decade.
But now Huggins faces the most significant staff departure since he came to WVU.
Andy Kettler has been the strength coach for West Virginia’s basketball team since 2008. He has been an integral factor in turning the Mountaineers into one of the most physical, best-conditioned college basketball teams in the nation. Without Kettler’s offseason work, Press Virginia would have quickly wilted.
But now Kettler is leaving WVU to take over as the strength coach for Louisville’s basketball program. New Cardinal head coach Chris Mack, who comes to U of L from Xavier, and assistant Dino Gaudio, the previous head coach at Wake Forest (2007-10) who also spent eight seasons coaching at Wheeling (W.Va.) Central Catholic High School (1980-87), quickly targeted Kettler, hoping he will do for U of L what he had done for West Virginia. Mack and Kettler have known each other for decades, as they were classmates at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
It also didn’t hurt that Louisville apparently opened up its checkbook. Kettler reportedly has been offered an annual salary of $200,000 at U of L, which is nearly double what the average Power 5 basketball strength coach typically makes. The pay is vastly different in the football and basketball worlds for strength coaches, as most Power 5 football strength coaches make over $200,000 a year (several of them make better than a half million), while the basketball guys are typically way below that number. Only a few, even at the hoop powers, make six figures.
Replacing Kettler won’t be easy, but it will be vitally important for the Mountaineers as they move forward. Huggins has reportedly reached out to some of the top football and basketball strength coaches in the country to get their recommendations for a replacement.
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One of Huggins’ staff members who did previously get away was Jerrod Calhoun.
After five years working for Huggs at WVU (2007-12), Calhoun became the head coach at Fairmont State, ultimately taking the Fighting Falcons to the 2017 Division II national championship game in his fifth and final season in the Friendly City. After that 34-3 campaign at FSU, Calhoun was hired as the head coach at Youngstown State, where he has been charged with turning around a Penguin program that hasn’t finished above .500 since 2013 and has never appeared in either the Division I NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
Calhoun, whose young YSU squad was just 8-24 this past year, will bring the Penguins to the WVU Coliseum this season for a Dec. 1 meeting with his old mentor.
From what we understand, next season’s Youngstown State-West Virginia contest is part of a three-year contract between the schools. Supposedly WVU will play the Penguins at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown in the 2019-20 season (YSU normally plays at an older on-campus arena, the Beeghly Center) with a return match back at the Coliseum the following year.
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West Virginia sophomore first baseman Kevin Brophy hasn’t made an appearance for the Mountaineers since the Oklahoma series. An injury has sidelined the Mountaineer power hitter, and it does not appear as if he will be in the lineup again anytime soon.
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One other note about next year’ men’s basketball second: Huggins’ squad also will face Florida in the Jimmy V Classic, which will be held at New York’s Madison Square Garden in December.
Indiana had previously been reported as WVU’s Jimmy V opponent, but the Hoosiers backed out of the contest. Instead Florida will face West Virginia as part of a doubleheader that will also feature Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma.
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One former Mountaineer has a new NFL home.
Terence Garvin, who played for WVU from 2009-12, recently signed with the Miami Dolphins. A linebacker in the pro ranks, Garvin spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-15), moved to the Washington Redskins for 2016 and then to the Seattle Seahawks in 2017. Now he’s looking to tack a sixth season on to his NFL resume.
Garvin is one of 20 former Mountaineers currently on NFL rosters prior to the league’s draft and subsequent rookie free agent signings, which will come later this month.
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Two other former Mountaineer football players are getting paid for their grid services.
Ellis Lankster (Richmond Roughriders) and Larry Ford (Atlanta Havoc) are both playing in the American Arena League. The AAL is a new professional indoor league formed by the merger of several other indoor leagues that sprouted up when the original Arena Football League stopped operating in 2009. The Arena League eventually was resurrected, though it currently has just four teams. The AAL has 12 teams, most of them on the East Coast.
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One former WVU employee has a new job.
Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, who is a native of Weirton, W.Va., and worked for Mike Carey’s Mountaineer women’s basketball program during two different stints (2001-03 and 2008-09), recently was hired as the head coach at Boston College.
Since graduating from West Liberty State (W.Va.) College in 1997, where she was a Division II All-American, Bernabei-McNamee has been on an upward coaching track. Besides working as an assistant at WVU and Maryland (2003-07), she also served as a head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan (1998-99), Pikeville (2013-16) and most recently Albany (2016-18), where she led the Great Danes to a 45-20 record in two seasons.
Married to Joe McNamee, who was an outfielder on the Mountaineer baseball team in the late ‘90s, Joanna inherits a BC program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011.
She replaces Erik Johnson as Boston College’s head coach, who resigned at the end of this past season. Johnson posted a 68-115 record in his six seasons with the Eagles, including a 7-23 mark this past year.
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According to the Nachez (Miss.) Democrat, former WVU quarterback Pat White appears likely to be hired as the quarterback coach at Alcorn State. Fro what we understand, the official announcement for White’s hiring will come later this week. The Braves, who are a FCS program, already have one other former Mountaineer on the coaching staff, as Ryan Stanchek is in his fifth season as Alcorn’s offensive line coach and he was recently promoted to serve as the Braves’ offensive coordinator.