Why West Left for West Virginia

In the end, Ron West really had no choice. On Wednesday, he informed Clemson coach Tommy Bowden that he had accepted a job to be the new offensive line coach and assistant head coach at West Virginia.

"It was a better opportunity for me career wise if I wanted to achieve the ultimate in coaching and one day run my own program," West said Wednesday evening. "Sometimes you've got to do things like this to achieve the things you want to achieve."

West just completed his eighth year at Clemson, which is where he earned his degree and played college football. He spent the last three years on defense after spending the first five as offensive line coach.

"I think that's a pretty unique deal where a guy who has been on defense the last three years gets offered a job on offense," West said. "I feel honored. But I also feel honored to have worked with Tommy Bowden for the last 10 years."

West and running backs coach Burton Burns have been with Bowden throughout his tenure as a head coach. They worked under Bowden for two years at Tulane before following him to Clemson.

"Ron West is a Clemson graduate and he should be proud of what he has done for this program the last eight years," Bowden said in a released statement. "He has coached an offensive line that ranked in the top 10 in the nation in rushing (2000) and a defensive line that has contributed to a top 16 scoring defense and total defense (2006).

"He has coached an All-America offensive linemen (Kyle Young) and All-America defensive linemen (Gaines Adams). He had a very positive influence on Gaines Adams' unanimous All-America season."

Burns recently accepted a job at Alabama.

"We hate to lose both Burton Burns and Ron West from our coaching staff," Bowden said. "When you have good coaches, they are pursued by other schools. In both instances they are moving to roles with significant titles and will have a sizeable increase in benefits. They have to make decisions that are in the best interest of their families. I was an assistant coach for nearly 20 years and I understand their respective decisions."

While it seems from the outside that getting at least a $75,000 a year raise, while joining his best friend Rich Rodriguez in a top 10 program is a no-brainer, to him, it was a difficult choice.

Nearly all of his and his wife's family lives within a couple of hours of Clemson by car.

"That was the hardest part," West said. "And it's still going to be a tough thing to leave everyone. It was a tough call. But I'm going to get through it and we will as a family. We'll move on. I think everything is going to work out."

The deciding factors in the end were his duties, title and the program itself. West said being named assistant head coach "pushed it over the edge."

He'll also be stepping into a program that has played four straight bowl games on January 1, and is already ranked in the top five for next season by nearly all publications. The Mountaineers return 17 of 22 starters.

"This is a great situation," West said. "It's a top 10 program and there are a lot of great people there. I just felt like this was the next step and the best choice for my career."

Bowden on Burns
A little more information was learned by CUTigers.com Wednesday night with the departure of Burns to Alabama.

It turns out that Burns actually turned down head coach Nick Saban on two separate occasions after he was first named as the new head coach for the Crimson Tide.

However, after things didn't workout with Saban's other choice, he approached Burns a third time and significantly increased the money offer and gave him a title. It was an offer Burns couldn't refuse.

Bowden also released a statement on the departure of Burns to Alabama.

"Burton Burns has had a strong impact on our program for the last eight years and has coached with me for 10 seasons. We are coming off a season in which we were No. 5 in the nation in rushing offense and his coaching of our running backs, in particular the All-ACC performances of James Davis and C.J. Spiller, had a lot to do with that."

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