Dawson Hired, Stewart Speaks

Just after West Virginia formally confirmed that the rebuilt offensive coaching staff had been completed with the hires of Bill Bedenbaugh as offensive line coach, Shannon Dawson as inside receivers coach and Robert Gillespie as running game coordinator, Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart offered his thoughts on the moves in a statement.

In the press release from WVU's sports information office, Stewart didn't directly comment on any of the three hires -- possibly because they were made under the purview of the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting Dana Holgorsen and not by Stewart himself.

According to West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, Holgorsen had the authority to hire and fire offensive assistants as he saw fit once he signed his "term sheet" to leave Oklahoma State and come to Morgantown.

Holgorsen took advantage of that opportunity. He took the place of former offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and fired running backs coach Chris Beatty, tight ends coach Dave McMichael and offensive line coach Dave Johnson.

The hires of Bedenbaugh (who was offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator at Arizona), Dawson (who was offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin) and Gillespie (who was running backs coach with Holgorsen at Oklahoma State) filled those spots.

That was just about all Stewart had say about the three new coaches.

"With the official announcement today of our three new assistant coaches, our coaching staff for 2011 is complete," said Stewart, who will serve his fourth and final year as WVU's head coach in 2011. "The three new coaches are eager to get started and become a part of the Mountaineer family.

"I feel very confident we have two of the top coordinators in college football next year with Dana Holgorsen running our offense and Jeff Casteel heading up our defense. Our attention now is on recruiting until early February, and then we will start focusing on spring practice and the 2011 season."

The statement followed three press releases from the sports information office, confirming each hire separately.

Dawson was the last of the hires to be confirmed. His relationship with Holgorsen dates back to 1999, when Dawson played quarterback at Wingate, where Holgorsen was his position coach.

"Working at West Virginia University is a great opportunity for me," Dawson said in a statement. "Morgantown is a beautiful place.

"Being able to work in a BCS conference and with coach Bill Stewart and coach Holgorsen really excites me and presents a great situation. I have known coach Holgorsen for a long time, and we've always talked about working together and this is the first time that the opportunity has presented itself. I can't wait to get started."

As the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin, Dawson led an offense that compiled a 23-14 overall record, won two straight Southland Conference Championships (2009, 2010) and advanced to two straight NCAA FCS playoff appearances (2009, 2010).

In 2010, he guided the the No. 1 passing offense in the FCS ranks (362.2 yards per game), the No. 4 scoring offense (36.3 points per game), ranking No. 6 in total offense (442.9 yards per game).

The Lumberjacks led the Southland Conference in all three categories, as well as pass efficiency (137.23). SFA finished with a 9-3 overall record and made an appearance in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs, before its season ended with a loss to Villanova.

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