News, Notes & Rumors – Aug. 13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–We in the media have a very limited opportunity to see the Mountaineer football team in practice situations during preseason camp.
Over the first eight days of workouts, we had the opportunity to watch the first half hour of practice on three separate occasions. That’s not a lot of time to observe, but I did make a few mental notes:
• All of West Virginia’s top four running backs are still in contention for the starting job, including true freshman Leddie Brown. It’s healthy competition, as all four (Brown, Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway and Alec Sinkfield) look very good. The depth chart for this position very well could change from week to week.
• Josh Norwood has been seeing a majority of his practice time at cornerback lately. WVU’s preseason depth chart lists the junior college transfer as a backup free safety, but West Virginia’s defensive coordinator Tony Gibson likes Norwood so much that he’s looking at him at a variety of DB positions to find the best way to get him on the field. That could be as a nickel back or safety, or it could be as a starting corner.
• Another junior college transfer, Joe Brown, seems to be very much in the mix for a starting offensive guard spot, despite just arriving on campus at WVU this summer, along with his younger brother Michael Brown. The 6-foot-4, 369-pound Joe Brown is battling returning letterman Isaiah Hardy for the starting spot at right guard. Having spent the first two years (2014 and ’15) of his college career at Miami (Fla.), Joe is technically a fifth-year senior this season. But West Virginia is listing him as a junior, because it expects an appeal currently before the NCAA will give him an additional year of eligibility, making him available for the Mountaineers in not only 2018 but also 2019. From what I’ve been told, the NCAA hasn’t yet ruled on Joe Brown’s appeal, but WVU fully expects it to grant the extra year of eligibility.
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A rumor has made its way to the surface recently that former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett is returning to his alma mater at Glenville State (W.Va.) College to help the Pioneers’ football team.
I haven’t yet gotten confirmation from GSC officials, but the notion of the 45-year college coaching veteran helping out at a Division II program isn’t as farfetched as some may think. A native of Masontown, W.Va., Trickett is a 1972 Glenville State grad and was the Pioneers’ head coach in 1999.
Trickett was an assistant coach at WVU in two different stints (1978-79 and 2001-06) and most recently spent 11 seasons as the offensive line coach at Florida State.
Despite helping the Seminoles to a national championship in 2013, Trickett was left without a job after last season when Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher departed to take over at Texas A&M. The 70-year-old Trickett wasn’t ready to hang up his whistle, though, and he could be helping out this year at his alma mater.
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College athletics has had more than their share of ugliness throughout their history, but it seems to be getting even worse in recent years. Scandals at Penn State, Baylor, Michigan State, Louisville, North Carolina and the FBI’s investigation of college basketball are just some of the most sensational in the past decade.
Now the football programs at Ohio State and Maryland find themselves mired in the latest messes for separate reasons. The head coaches at each respective school, Urban Meyer at OSU and D.J. Durkin at UM, currently are suspended, and their futures leading their football squads are in serious doubt.
The head coaches are rarely sympathetic figures in such scandals. Often their lies in an attempted cover-up snare them as much as their own misdeeds. While you don’t have to feel bad for the head coaches, their staff members are often innocent and usually pay a price themselves if the head coach is fired.
The football staffs at both Ohio State and Maryland have employees with West Virginia connection, and their futures are very much in doubt because of scandals that they seemingly had nothing to do with.
At Ohio State, Mickey Marotti is the program’s strength coach. His first full-time job in the profession came at WVU, where he was the Mountaineers’ assistant strength coach from 1988 through ’89. From there, he started climbing the ladder, spending eight years at Cincinnati, seven at Notre Dame and seven at Florida before moving to Ohio State in 2011. A 1987 graduate of West Liberty (W.Va.) University, Marotti is regarded as one of the top strength coaches in the country, but his future at OSU, like all others in the Buckeyes’ football program, is uncertain because of the domestic abuse charge against one of Meyer’s assistant coaches.
At Maryland, the death of a player this past summer during a workout has brought ugliness to the Terrapins’ doorstep. Durkin’s future may be more in doubt than Meyer’s at OSU. A couple Maryland assistants have links to West Virginia. Chris Beatty is in his third season as the Terps’ wide receiver coach and co-offensive coordinator. Beatty was a member of Bill Stewart’s staff at WVU from 2008-10. Chuck Heater, who is in his first year as Maryland’s safeties coach, was born in Weston, W.Va., and spent the past five seasons as Marshall’s defensive coordinator.
Like the Rich Rodriguez’ firing at Arizona last winter, where so many members of his staff were caught up in a mess that they had nothing to do with, when a head coach is let go, it often has a ripple effect throughout the program.