Rollover Complete?

After replacing three coaches between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, West Virginia was faced with a similar task just one year later. It now appears as if another 33% change in assistants has been completed, bringing with it even more challenges for the WVU program.

Although none of the hires have been confirmed by WVU (the school's website still lists Steve Dunlap and Jake Spavital on its coaching roster), multiple sources have told and other media outlets that Brian Mitchell, Tony Gibson and Lonnie Galloway will fill the vacancies left by the firings of Dunlap and Daron Roberts, as well as the gap created when Spavital took a job at Texas A&M as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Two of the coaches, of course, have been at West Virginia before. Gibson was at WVU from 2001-07, while Galloway held down a spot from 2008-10. Mitchell is expected to tutor cornerbacks, while Gibson is slated to take over safeties. If that proves true, it would mean that Joe DeForest would likely hold special teams coordination as his only on-field duty (he is currently listed as "Associate Head Coach" on the website). Keith Patterson and Erik Slaughter are expected to continue to coach linebackers and defensive linemen, respectively.

Galloway's apparent hiring will also cause a shuffle on the offensive side of the ball. With Spavital's departure, the QB coaching position is now open, but that will be filled by offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who has tutored wide receivers in his first two seasons at West Virginia. Galloway will return to his former spot coaching West Virginia's the wide receivers.

Both Galloway and Dawson have quarterback involvement on their resumes, although the duo have more recently been wide receiver mentors. Galloway was an accomplished quarterback at Western Carolina, throwing for more than 5,500 yards in his career. He also was the quarterbacks coach at Elon University. Dawson was a quarterback and receiver at Wingate, and served as offensive coordinator at Millsaps and Stephen F. Austin, and a quarterbacks coach at the latter school.

If these hires make it through West Virginia's human resources approval process and deals are signed, the Mountaineers would have no coaches on the staff that have been in place for more than two seasons, and would for the second time be breaking in a trio of coaches for the first year in a new system. While Galloway and Gibson's familiarity with the campus and school will certainly help, the difference in offensive and defensive systems, as well as a totally new player roster, will also present challenges, just as it did to Patterson, Slaughter and DeForest a year, ago, and Holgorsen, Bedenbaugh, Dawson and Gillespie prior to the 2011 season.

While Holgorsen has moved reasonably quickly to fill the coaching gaps, the long-term consequences of the coaching rollover are still to be determined. How will players respond to the new changes? Some will be playing for their third position coach in three seasons. How will the coaches themselves assimilate the new systems they will be teaching, and how quickly can the build rapport with their new charges? While the hiring process remains the final item to complete in the short term, it's these more far-reaching items that will determine West Virginia's success in 2013 and beyond.

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