The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 6, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN-Crook feels at home with Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — Ron Crook realizes that the day he walked into the football office at Stanford and told them he was giving up his job as an assistant coach working with the tight ends and offensive tackles to come coach offensive line at West Virginia that certain people would not be able to understand how he could make such a move.

Stanford to West Virginia?

Leave a school that had been to four consecutive BCS bowls, a school that was turning out NFL players at a pace that almost matches the way it is turning out tech geniuses for West Virginia? Why, for crying out loud, quarterback Andrew Luck was a WVU legacy not only of a former quarterback but a man who wound up the athletic director at the school, and he chose Stanford.

He realized they wouldn’t understand because anyone who wasn’t from West Virginia could not possibly understand.

First off, it wasn’t solely simply for a chance to return to his home state.

Not at all.

“It played a big part in it, but more from a standpoint of growing up in this state and knowing how important West Virginia football is to the people,” he said. “I’ve been gone from the state for several years now. It wasn’t so much coming home. It was more coming to a place where I know football is important to the state and football is important to this university. That was something I wanted to be part of.”

It’s different at Stanford, where he was last, and at Harvard, where he was before that.

Stanford is in California, Harvard in Boston.

There is so much more there, the beaches, the Giants, the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Dodgers, USC, UCLA, Boston College ...

College football was a diversion, not a way of life as it was in his native of Parkersburg.

“As a kid growing up in this state, everything you do revolves around Mountaineer football,” he said. “It was that way for me, and not just football. If there was a West Virginia event on TV, it was on our TV. We watched as a family.

“My father was a big Mountaineer fan. We spent our weekends a lot of times doing that. When you are brought up that way, you don’t lose it. When I was coaching Stanford, I was still following the Mountaineers, seeing how they do.

“My mother-in-law and father-in-law are big fans and after a game we’d talk a little while about the Stanford game and then we always talked about the West Virginia games, too.”

It was always tugging at his sleeve, especially since he missed as a kid coming out of high school.

Certainly it hurt when he came out and had no offer to play at WVU.

“I thought Coach Nehlen and his staff were crazy not recruiting me,” he said, wearing a big smile that told you he was speaking in jest. “As I look back, I don’t think it was hard at all. I played at a different level, so I didn’t find it hard to root for West Virginia.”

He wound up playing and starting his coaching career at West Liberty and, it turned out, he had a knack for coaching the game and the passion that comes from being a West Virginian for the game itself.

His journey was an interesting one, bouncing around a bit until ending up at Harvard for eight years in the Ivy League before winding up at Stanford, which is sometimes referred to as “The Harvard of the West.”

Certainly, the “scholar-athletes” he was dealing with at Harvard and Stanford differed from those he will deal with at WVU, did they not?

“I hope there’s not a big difference. What I experienced at those places is that even though they are ‘scholar-athletes,’ football is very important to them. They work really hard at it and have a passion for it. I think you see the same things in the guys here,” he said.

“Maybe some of the off-the-field things are different from their standpoint, but I’m not approaching it any differently right now.”

That is almost certainly the proper approach, for in most cases the offensive linemen usually are the smartest of the players on the field.

“There’s a lot more involvement with each other on a play-to-play basis,” Crook said, trying to explain why that is. “There’s five guys on the field and what the right tackle does on a play impacts the left tackle. They have to be intelligent enough to work together, to have a strong bond with each other.

“They have to be with each other, working for each other on a daily basis.”

His first job is getting to know his players and having them learn him.

“I don’t think you can have a successful program if you don’t have a good relationship with your guys. Those relationships go different ways on a daily basis. A good relationship doesn’t mean you can’t have issues with each other,” he said.

“There will be times when we certainly will have issues and there are times when they will have issues with me. One of the things I’ve talked to them is communication being the key. We have to be able to work through differences we have.”

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads