Kinney, like most other coaches, sometimes has to pull up stakes and depart for a new job. That's a hazard of the coaching profession, but one that pretty much comes with the territory. Kinney managed to stay at his last job, at Kansas State, for almost four years, and hopes to be able to put down some roots during his second stay in Morgantown.
"I did have the luxury of staying at K-State for a while," said Kinney, who resided in Manhattan for just three months short of four years. "The toughest aspect of leaving is the people that you leave behind, the athletes, the coaches, everyone. You get attached to them. This move was the hardest one I've had to make. But they [the athletes] understand, and they know why you move on. But it's still difficult."
Kinney will oversee the football and basketball skill development programs, and has seen the spread of those specialties from football, where most strength programs began, to many other sports. It's all a matter of results, and when participants in sports other than football saw the improvements that the gridders made, the emphasis on those areas, along with the development of specific programs for each sport, began to sprout. "The first thing we had to overcome was that many athletes viewed strength training as just bulking up." Kinney noted. "No one wanted to get too big. But now that people have seen the results, it starts to trickle down to other sports. They are starting to focus more on strength and skill development, and it can be a big benefit no matter what sport you play."
As a coach in a relatively new discipline, the field is still growing and trying out new ideas. And just like the fotball staff, which does a complete breakdown and analysis of everything they did over the past season each February, so Kinney does with everyting in his program. "I think there are always some new things to look at. Everyone has a new idea or a new way to do things. After every season, you pull apaprt everything that you've done, and then try to find what you could have done better.
"You are always updating and upgrading," Kinney continued. "As we watch what the coaches teach, we can find things that they are emphasizing, and use that as a drill. We can learn from athletes too. And, I swear this is true, sometimes I dream things up. I keep a notepad by my bed so I can jot things down."
One other area in which the sport coaches and strength coaches use similar tools is the video room. Just like practice and game sessions, Barwis' and Kinney's sessions are captured by the camera. "We film lifting and skill work too - you can show them what they are doing just like in a game," Kinney said. "That's just another way of teachin. You might not be able to tell an athlete what you wnat him to do, but you show him and it sometimes hits home."
When asked about his impressions of the Mountaineers, and especially the football team, Kinney first talked about a previous job he held, and compared one of their outstanding traits to WVU. "When I was at Navy, we had guys that might not have had all the natural athletic skills, but we knew if we kept pounding on them, they would eventually work themselves into being solid players. The one thing they had was effort - all the time.
"There aren't too many places like that. Most places, you have to coach effort. But one thing I've seen is that there doesn't need to be much coaching of effort here. Guys are coming in to work out and just busting it. Mike has them hopping and popping, and the believe in what he is doing."
In addition to his own homecoming, Kinney's son, Isaiah, who was born in the Mountian State, will be very happy to again be rooting for the Gold and Blue. "Isaiah has a West Virginia helmet, and he knows where he is from," Kinney related. "The WVU -Wisconsin game came on earlier this year, and he starts yelling 'West Virginia is on TV!' So, he knows what the flying WV is, and he's ready to watch WVU now."
It sounds as if the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree, and if Isaiah's enthusiasm is anywhere near that of his father, WVU will be adding another lifelong fan to the rolls this fall.