Funny thing happened on the way to Maestro Elmo's coronation.
The defense that had fallen from one of the best, if not the best, in the country in 1996, steadily to one of the worst over the last five years, held true to form.
Now the man who was heralded as our defensive savior in these parts has fewer friends around here than a leper. People are questioning his attitude. People question how he gets along with his players. And people question how he gets along with other coaches.
It is amazing what eight losses will do for your public persona.
I personally am sad to see Coach Elmo go. I didn't figure he would be here more than three or four years anyway. I thought he would build his defense, one of the coaches, such as Coach Graham, would learn it, and take over for him when he left.
I don't see that happening now.
When I got news of the divorce this weekend, I went out and did a little research. Just some easy coach surfing that anyone with the internet has access to.
So who would be a good candidate to take over as the head of the Mountaineer defense?
1. How does Bob Davie strike you? Personally, I don't like Notre Dame or anyone associated with them. Fortunately, Davie is no longer associated with Notre Dame.
He reportedly made the statement that he would take the defensive line coach job at Slippery Rock. Lucky for the Mountaineers that job is already filled, strangely enough by a former Mountaineer.
Not so sure about Davie? How does ten years experience as a defensive coordinator strike you? Would it matter if four of them were at Notre Dame, five of them at Texas A&M and one at Tulane?
Personally I think his ties to Texas along with Graham's make Davie a top candidate.
Can WVU afford him? Will they have to? Coach Davie just received a contract extension from Notre Dame after taking them to the Fiesta Bowl last year. Lets thank the golden dumbers for paying Coach Davie's salary for us next year if we hire him.
2. How does Joe Lee Dunn strike you?
* 1971-79: Defensive Coordinator, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
* 1981-82: Assistant Coach, University of New Mexico
* 1983-86: Head Coach, University of New Mexico
* 1987-88: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, University of South Carolina
* 1989: Assistant Coach, Memphis State University
* 1990-91: Defensive Coordinator, Memphis State University
* 1992-93: Defensive Coordinator, University of Mississippi
* 1994: Interim Head Coach, University of Mississippi
* 1995: Defensive Coordinator, University of Arkansas
* 1996-present: Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Ends, Mississippi State University
I don't think WVU has any shot here. I don't even think he is considered as a candidate. But I do think there is a coach on his defensive staff who would be an excellent candidate:
3. Jim Thopkins, Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State.
* 1962-65: Line Coach, Foley [AL] HS
* 1966: Defensive Coordinator, Crestview [AL] HS
* 1967: Outside Linebacker and Secondary Coach, Choctawhatchee [FL] HS
* 1968-71: Head Coach, Troy [AL] Charles Henderson HS
* 1972: Head Coach, Scottsboro [AL] HS
* 1973-82: Defensive Coordinator, Troy State University
* 1983: Defensive Coordinator, Jacksonville State University
* 1984: Defensive Assistant, University of Richmond
* 1985-87: Defensive Coordinator, University of Southern Mississippi
* 1988: Defensive Coordinator, Southern Illinois University
* 1989-95: Inside Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State University
* 1996-present: Linebackers Coach, Mississippi State University
Hiring Coach Thompkins could immediately pay dividends in the Mississippi junior college recruiting base. He has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator, and unless Dunn retires, he isn't going to be DC at MSU. Alabama isn't a bad area to recruit either.
Now for some more off the wall candidates who have some pretty good resumes.
4. Rick Christophel, defensive coordinator, University of Alabama Birmingham.
Coach Christophel has also coached at Mississippi State, been a defensive coordinator at Vandy, and had stops at Rice, Cincinnati and Austin Peay.
5. Tyrone Nix, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, Southern Mississippi.
Coach Nix is in his seventh year as a defensive coach at Southern Miss after a stellar career as a linebacker at Southern Miss where is the 12th all time leading tackler.
6. Raymond Monica, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers coach, Temple.
Yes Temple. Coach Monica came to Temple with Bobby Wallace from North Alabama. He has been the defensive coordinator for a Temple team who has shown drastic improvement on the defensive side of the ball in the last three years. He also has ties back to Alabama, where he graduated from North Alabama and coached for nine seasons, where they won the division II national title.
7. Rick Whitt, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, Memphis State University.
Whitt was a defensive coach under Danny Ford at Clemson when they won three ACC titles and a National Championship. He also coached under Sparky Woods at South Carolina as defensive coordinator in 1989-1991. So he has been to Mountaineer Field. He has also served stints for Appalachian State and UTC.
While these guys, other than Davie, may not be nationally known, household names, they all have some pretty impressive experience. They vary in age and background. They all have ties to the South. But they all bring something to the table that nobody on the current staff brings: experience as a defensive coordinator at the Division 1-A level.
Happy hunting Rich.