By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University needs a quarterback to replace Geno Smith.
And now the Mountaineers need someone to coach him.
Early Thursday morning, WVU quarterback coach Jake Spavital confirmed to CBSSports.com in Dallas that he had accepted the job of quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.
He is the third coach to depart WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s staff this year, following cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts and outside linebacker Steve Dunlap, both of whom were asked to leave.
It’s expected that very shortly the school will make it official that former WVU assistant Tony Gibson is returning from Rich Rodriguez’s staff in Arizona to coach the safeties and former East Carolina defensive coordinator and NFL cornerback Brian Mitchell will be named to coach the cornerbacks.
Those moves reportedly are just being held up in human resources and that everything has been agreed upon.
Spavital, 27, is one of the most highly regarded young quarterback coaches in the country, and this is further evidence of it.
He spent the last two years working with Smith, who became the all-time passing leader at West Virginia in every important category and even helped him work through a mid-season slump — during which one of his top receivers, Stedman Bailey, was hobbled with an ankle injury — and come on to have a huge season.
Before coming to WVU he worked under Holgorsen at Oklahoma State as a graduate assistant preparing Brandon Weeden for the NFL.
In two seasons with Spavital, Smith threw 73 touchdowns against 13 interceptions while completing over 68 percent of his passes for over 8,500 yards.
Now he moves on to take over as the quarterback coach of last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, then-freshman Johnny Manziel.
“It was a fun couple years,” Spavital told the Charleston Daily Mail. “I wasn’t looking for a job and I was happy with where I was at, but I believe it’s the right career move to do.”
Spavital replaces Kliff Kingsbury, who was named the head coach at Texas Tech last month. Spavital also worked under Kingsbury when he was on the Houston Cougars staff.
Texas A&M running backs coach Clarence McKinney is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator. He called plays for the Aggies in their 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, a game in which they set a Cotton Bowl record with 633 yards of total offense, 513 of them accounted for by Manziel.
Holgorsen will begin a search immediately for a replacement for Spavital, although the timing is not opportune with recruiting in its final phases for the year.
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