WVU Football Coaching Carousel Movement
Multiple reports have two coaches heading to West Virginia’s football program for the 2020 season, but official confirmation is still to come.
Penn State passing game coordinator Gerad Parker is reported to be taking a similar position at West Virginia, although that would make for a crowded coordinator position on the Mountaineer staff. Parker, who was born in Louisa, Kentucky, was a four-year letterman at the University of Kentucky from 2000-04, crossing paths with current Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown, who played at UK from 1998-2000.
He would replace Xavier Dye, who left the wide receivers coaching job after one season for a spot at USF.
A two-time Southeastern Conference Scholar Athlete Honor Roll selection (2002-03) and second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District IV honoree in 2004, Parker had an injury-marred career at UK after a standout high school career at Lawrence County (Kentucky) High School.
Parker immediately transitioned into coaching after his playing career ended, moving up from Raceland High School (2005-06) to UK as a graduate assistant for one year, then to Tennessee Martin for three seasons (2008-10). He was then hired at Marshall for a two-year stint (2011-12), where he met current Penn State assistant JaJuan Seider, helping later pave the way for a spot on the Nittany Lions staff.
Before then, however, he also had stints at Purdue from 2013-16, and a cameo at Cincinnati before jumping to Duke for the 2017-18 seasons. He was then hired at Penn State for the 2019 campaign.
Gerad Parker Coaching History
2019 – Penn State (wide receivers)
2018 – Duke (wide receivers)
2017 – Duke (football operations assistant working – offense)
Spring 2017 – Cincinnati (running backs)
2016 – Purdue (interim head coach; final 6 games)
2015-16 – Purdue (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator)
2013-14 – Purdue (tight ends/recruiting coordinator)
2011-12 – Marshall (wide receivers)
2009-10 – Tennessee-Martin (wide receivers/passing game coordinator/recruiting coordinator)
2008 – Tennessee-Martin (running backs)
2007 – Kentucky (graduate assistant)
2005-06 – Raceland (Ky.) High School (wide receivers/defensive backs)
Parker would join a WVU staff that already lists Matt Moore and Chad Scott as co-offensive coordinators. Some reports have indicated Parker would also hold that title. Moore addressed the media this year in the role of offensive coordinator, but final decisions on playcalling were made by Brown.
The decision to hire another offensive coach mirrors one made by Brown in his first season, when he also reportedly considered hiring a dedicated special teams coach. Instead, specialists were handled by graduate assistants while special teams were split among four assistants, with Blake Seiler overseeing them.
Parkers departure, coming just one year after his hiring, also follows a reported boost in Penn State football salaries at the end of the 2018 season. The University does not release salaries of its assistant coaches, but admitted that the pool for salaries was somewhat behind other peer institutions a year ago. PSU had $11.4 million allocated for coaching salaries in 2018, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Morning Call.
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FootballScoop also reported that Jeff Koonz is a strong candidate to fill the vacancy left by Seiler. Koonz was not retained by Mississippi when the school fired Matt Luke in December, a dismissal that also left former WVU coaches Rich Rodriguez and Calvin Magee without jobs. Mississippi hired Lane Kiffin as head coach who brought in his own staff, including former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired after the death of Jordan McNair during an offseason workout session.
Koonz had been at Mississippi just one year, coming on board after a two year stint at North Texas (2017-18). Prior to that, he was on the staff at Cincinnati from 2014-16 and Louisiana Tech fro 2010-13. He made $300,000 at Mississippi for the 2019 season.
A native of Wallkill, New York, Koonz had graduate assistant and quality contral jobs at Texas (2005-06, 2009) and Auburn (2004). He also had a two-year job run with Iowa State as secondary coach in 2008-08.
In addition to that early Big 12 experience, Koonz’ father, also named Jeff, is currently the head coach at Holmes Community College, a junior college in Mississippi with a strong history of sending players to the Division I level.
Koonz is also expected to take on oversight of the punt team, with other special teams again split out among other assistant coaches.
Jeff Koonz Coaching History
2017-18 – North Texas (LBs)
2016 – Cincinnati (Co-DC/LBs)
2015 – Cincinnati (LBs)
2014 – Cincinnati (Safeties)
2010-13 – Louisiana Tech (LBs)
2009 – Texas (Quality Control/Defense)
2007-08 -Iowa State (Secondary)
2005-2006 – Texas (GA)
2004 – Auburn (GA)
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The coaching moves, if completed, put WVU ahead of the curve in terms of competition at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) meetings in Nashville next week. A long-time networking opportunity for job movement, many contacts, informal interviews and the groundwork for hires are laid at the event.
While the hiring of Koonz, if completed, would appear to knock out former West Virginia defensive coach Jeff Casteel from a full-time assistant spot, it might not result in a complete cut-off for the state native. A role as an analyst, which has become a second career path for many veteran coaches over the past few years, is not out of the question.