The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

August 14, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Leadership: In the end, it’s up to coaches

MORGANTOWN — I have a question today.

First, though, let me offer you a comment that West Virginia University running back Dustin Garrison made to a freelance writer working for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Last year we didn’t have, you know, a lot of leadership.”

Now, is there anyone in West Virgi … No, wait a second. Let me add another comment in that story, this one from offensive tackle Quinton Spain, before asking the question.

“What’s different this year is we’re more a team. There ain’t no I’s; we don’t depend on nobody. We just depend on all of us at once as a team. So I think this year will be better than last year. There wasn’t no team. I could say there was a team early, but once we started losing we saw the I’s come up, so it just hurt the team worse.”

OK, we’ll try again. Is there anyone in West Virgi … hold on. Let me add this from running back Andrew Buie.

“I feel like last year, we fell apart. At certain moments where we needed to be a team, we weren’t a team. So that was a big thing that (coach Dana Holgorsen) preached all off-season: Team. Team. Team. I honestly feel like as a whole team offensively, defensively and with special teams, we’re more of a unit as a team. More together.”

Fine, now I think it’s time to ask the question.

After reading all three comments, can anyone understand how New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan came up with this:

“It tells me I’m glad my kid never went there, I can tell you that much.”

Honest to goodness, that’s the conclusion he drew from some of the most illogical logic that I have ever come across, and I worked with the late Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark, who said at various times:

• “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

• “Half this game is 90 percent mental.”

• “It really sent a twinkle up my spine.”

All of that makes more sense than Ryan, who saw some West Virginia players criticizing the team’s leadership in a difficult season and assumed they were criticizing Geno Smith, the quarterback from last year whom he had drafted in the second round.

Now you may want to reread the three quotes and note that none of them mention Geno Smith or quarterback.

But even if they had, even if it was true that Smith deserted his team – which he had not – what does that have to do with whether or not WVU is a good enough academic an institution to education a son of Rex Ryan?

This was the way Ryan analyzed those quotes from WVU players via ESPN.com:

“I don’t get that. Geno was a tremendous player for West Virginia. I don’t know; you have to ask them. I certainly don’t get that. When somebody leaves your (school) ... I guess that’s up to them. You have to ask them.”

Here’s the deal. WVU probably did lack proper leadership last season as the team came apart, but if you are looking for that leadership to come from players, you are looking in the wrong place.

True, we all talk about the leadership skills of players … in high school as seniors, in college as seniors, always as quarterbacks, but that holds water only with minor problems or to keep a team going in the right direction.

At a time where a season or a career is on the line, do you look to a 21-year-old amateur athlete who probably has never faced such a situation in his life as your leader and savior or does a team’s true leadership in times of trouble have to come from the coaching staff … and mainly the head coach?

This is not meant to cast aspersions on Dana Holgorsen over what happened to his football team over the second half of last season, for not being privy to the locker room or to meetings or to the sidelines during games, it is impossible to really judge if he did the right things or not.

But he is the man with the title, the man earning seven figures while his quarterback and seniors are earning scholarship money, the man who has faced losing streaks and adversity before, experienced in working with a number of coaches from whom he could learn.

If college players really could be leaders, would not coaches name season-long captains to perform such duties rather than game captains, as almost all coaches now use?

In college football, there are reasons pretty much the same coaches are at or near the top most of the time, and it isn’t just recruiting ability and strategic wizardry.

In the end, they are the leaders, which is why the wins and losses are charged against their record and not the quarterback’s.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads