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Three years in, Dana Holgorsen believes West Virginia is ready to compete in the Big 12

In October of 2012, it appeared West Virginia was primed to take the Big 12 by storm. Undefeated and ranked fifth nationally, the Mountaineers started life in the Big 12 with a 70-63 win over Baylor and a 48-45 defeat of Texas. Since then, West Virginia is 6-14 overall and 4-12 in the Big 12. The Big 12 has taken West Virginia by storm. 

The Mountaineers' struggles can lay at the feet of a number of factors. Injuries. A loss of experience leading to inexperience at key positions. A roster that wasn't built to compete in the Big 12. All of the same stuff TCU has dealt with as well. 

In addition to a loss of talent (Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey), Holgorsen suffered equally important - if not moreso - losses on his coaching staff, particularly on offense. Jake Spavital left to become the quarterbacks coach, and now the offensive coordinator, at Texas A&M. Bill Bedenbaugh is now the offensive line coach at Oklahoma. Robert Gillespie is now coaching running backs at Tennessee. 

"Last year, on offense, not only were we replacing a lot of stars, a lot of starters, a lot of firepower, we had to replace a whole staff, too. We had some coaches move on to some pretty good jobs. We've got all the offensive guys back, got all the offensive coaches back. Tony Gibson took over (on defense) so we wouldn't have to change many things. We brought in some guys, held on to some guys that understand what the defensive scheme is all about. We've got the same coach coaching the special teams that we've had for the past couple years. The continuity on the staff right now, I think, is good."

Holgorsen's offensive staff returns completely intact from 2013, while Tony Gibson was promoted from safeties coach to defensive coordinator following Keith Patterson's departure for Arizona State, longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was hired as assistant head coach and defensive line coach, and Damon Cogdell was plucked from the Florida high school ranks to coach the linebackers. 

With three recruiting classes now signed since West Virginia announced its intention to join the Big 12, I asked Holgorsen how close he thinks the Mountaineers are to having a Big 12-ready roster: "Based on the fact that we have an entire roster coming back, I think we're in a position to say we're doing that. We have 55 guys in the locker room that have played Big 12 football games. Our job is to try to improve recruiting every year, improve the roster every year. I think we've done that over the last three years." 

While West Virginia's location, basically on a land-locked island detatched from the rest of the conference, Holgorsen uses West Virginia's status as the East Coast's Big 12 team to his advantage on the recruiting trail. He says it's working.

"Our TV partners have done a great job of broadcasting our games, getting the word out that the Big 12 is exciting. Kids are taking notice. We're attacking a group of kids that have an opportunity to play in something like that, whereas in the past in our recruiting efforts we couldn't have sold them," Holgorsen said. "I've hired some good recruiters, but I think the Big 12 brand has helped, no question."

"We're recruiting at the highest level we ever have."

Now is the time to prove it.

Three and out: The best facility graphic in CFB?, a monster burger, and more from Big 12 Media Day

Doug: As you may (or may not) remember, prior to the Rose Bowl against Stanford, Michigan State suspended team captain and stud middle linebacker Max Bullough. Kyle Ellsworth admirably stepped up to the challenge of filling some enormous shoes and ended up making the game winning stop on fourth and one to seal the game. It was epic.

Today, Mark Dantonio was tweeting pictures of the new graphics and locker room and among his tweets was this graphic, which (biased included) has to be one of the coolest graphics in any college football facility.

spartangraphic

Scott - Bobby Hebert, aka the "Cajun Cannon", is opening a restaurant in New Orleans. The menu will feature nearly 100 menu items, including one "named after each of Hebert's five kids." Family friendly, 30 TVs, will host the local radio show that Bobby does, etc... you know the type. I hope it works out for him; but seems far too often that these athlete turned restauranteur investments don't pan out. We'll see, in the meantime, once it's open, "anyone who can finish a burger with seven patties and seven slices of cheese" gets it fo' free. Don't finish it and you cough up $50. 

CajunCannon

Zach - I've been at Big 12 media days the past two days so I've been a bit unplugged. I did find this tweet pretty interesting:

Sam Ponder had a baby girl...named her after Bobby Bowden

During Bobby Bowden's final year at Florida State in 2009, a quarterback by the name of Christian Ponder completed nearly 69% of his pass attempts for over 2,700 yards while tossing 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Of course, Ponder went on be the 12th overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and further made a name for himself by marrying one of the most charismatic personalities in sports in ESPN anchor Samantha Steele.

According to Minnesota's ESPN NFL Nation reporter Ben Goessling, the two recently had their first child together, a baby girl with an interesting first name.

 

The reasoning behind the name gets even deeper, as Goesling points out in his peice on Ponder he released today.

"They named their little girl Bowden Sainte-Claire Ponder -- the middle name is the same as Samantha's, while the first, of course, pays homage to retired Florida State coach Bobby Bowden -- and they plan to call her 'Scout,' after the young narrator of Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

Pretty cool way to pay homage to a coach that impacted his life, and it's even cooler that he's found someone that was cool with actually doing it. Congratulations to the couple. 

The Bills will give out season ticket cards instead of paper tickets

To my knowledge, the Buffalo Bills will be the first NFL franchise to do away with paper tickets and introduce their season ticket holders to season ticket cards instead.

Drivers licenses and credit cards have been around since (seemingly) the beginning of time, so what took everyone so long to come up with this idea? Simple and brilliant, and definitely something that season ticket holders will appreciate.

Major props Buffalo. Now if they could only figure out a more efficient way to dig it out of your wallet with frostbitten fingers and hands...

UPDATE >> After sharing the article on Twitter, our faithful followers had some valuable input.

Bill Snyder on the wisdom of not chasing jobs: "Be where you are."

The question came from the back, right portion of the room. Forty-eight Big 12 head coaches have come and gone since you became Kansas State's head coach. Does that make you feel old?

At 75, everything makes Bill Snyder feel old these days. He's only two years younger than Barry Switzer, after all. The same Barry Switzer who last coached in 1997. 

Snyder's answer explained why he's stayed at Kansas State so long, when he assuredly could have moved on so many times in the two and a half decades since he first got the job. 

"Probably the significant thing for me and I think I've learned this a long time ago when I was a young coach, started off in the high school level and moved to a lot of different places, and I was always one of those coaches that I wanted to be someplace else other than where I was," Snyder said. "In other words, I wanted to continue to climb. So when I was a high school assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. When I was a head coach, I wanted to be a college assistant. When I was a college assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. So that went on for a considerable period of time. And I was half in/half out, so to speak.

"And consequently I was not a very good football coach at all, probably not a very good person," he continued. "And I learned some time ago, probably 30 some odd years ago, that I needed to do it a little differently.

"And my decision was, simply put, that be where you are. And I chose to do that. And that allowed me, I think, to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on. It wasn't significant to me. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing, and that was kind of the approach that I've taken. And I think that's probably why I'm not one of those 48, I guess, that you're talking about."

Spoken like a guy who has seen four generations of coaches come and go. 

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