By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University has made cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts the fall guy for its 2012 pass defense failures, announcing Saturday that the soft-spoken, Ivy League-educated Roberts was leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.
“I want to thank Daron for his time on staff at West Virginia,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said in a release that came out after Roberts had already confirmed he was leaving the program. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Roberts’ story is a well-known one, a good enough tale that it wound up being featured in Sports Illustrated.
So, if you must, just chalk this up as another one for the Sports Illustrated jinx.
Roberts graduated from Texas with honors in government, serving as the school’s student-body president. He went on and received a M.A. in public policy from Harvard and J.D. from the same school.
After graduating from Texas, he worked eight months on Capitol Hill in the office of Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut before going after his advanced degrees.
He took a course in sports law and for his final paper on whether legal training would help a football coach he approached Mike Leach at Texas Tech, who held a law degree. The two talked for an hour and a half and he was invited to Lubbock, Tex., for a week.
“I ended up going for two weeks,” Roberts told Sports Illustrated. “The most amazing two-week period of my life.”
He was hooked. He decided to become a football coach, spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions before Holgorsen, a protégé of Leach’s, hired him to coach the corners this year.
The season, however, was a disaster on the defensive side. West Virginia gave up the most points it had ever allowed in its history and finished 119th out of 120 teams in the NCAA in pass defense, allowing 327.8 yards a game.
The 36 touchdowns allowed were the second most to Colorado’s 39.
There was no improvement seen among the corners as the season progressed, and starter Pat Miller was constantly being picked on by offenses.
A search has begun for a new cornerback coach and it is uncertain whether Holgorsen will make other changes, including his defensive coordinator, Joe DeForest.
The Mountaineers play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium on Dec. 29.