The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 25, 2007

Did USF have an advantage last year?

COLUMN

MORGANTOWN — There were questions before last season’s stunning upset of West Virginia by the upstart University of South Florida Bulls on the Mountaineers’ home field, questions of just how much an advantage having Rod Smith as the underdogs’ quarterback coach could help them.

Smith, after all, had grown up in the Rodriguez system under the man himself. He had played quarterback at Glenville State when Rodriguez was honing his fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense and had probably run it as well as even Shaun King or Woody Dantzler had in the big leagues of college football.

He was versed in the formations and, just as important, in the terminology, as up-to-date as actually having served Rodriguez as a graduate assistant when the coach came to WVU just seven years ago.

Smith was so well-versed in the Rodriguez system that he was hired away by USF coach Jim Leavitt to help install the system for the Bulls.

Rodriguez pooh-poohed such talk. His signals from the sideline had changed and become so well disguised that he felt neither the CIA nor Bill Belichick could steal them.

Ah, but after the game, when WVU had trouble doing anything offensively against South Florida, the talk turned to whispers in the halls of the Puskar Center, whispers of some kind of sinister doings on the part of South Florida.

Mostly, it was in-house stuff, not for public consumption

But it did not go unnoticed that Rodriguez hired Smith away from USF before the two teams could meet again.

Considering that the WVU quarterbacks seemed to be in pretty capable hands — Rodriguez’s own — one might draw his own conclusions as to why Smith was lured away from the enemy camp.

At no time, though, would Rodriguez ever admit that it might have had something to do with what transpired on the field last year.

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Bob Herzel
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