Coaches Head For Hideaway

The short summer vacation is over for the Mountaineer football coaching staff as they reassemble Monday morning to evaluate their program and prepare for the opening of fall practice.

Speaking on MetroNews' Sunday Night SportsTalk, Mountaineer tight end coach Herb Hand noted that the summer, as usual, was all too short.

"After our football camps ended at end of June, we usually take some time off during the first part of July to spend with our families," Hand said. "It's not very long, because we go into hideaway this Monday."

Hand explained that hideaway involves the coaches meeting to evaluate and review all parts of the football program. During this time, the coaches meet in a room without phones or other outside contact to discuss, evaluate and make necessary changes to the program.

"We'll look at everything, and when we come out of those meetings we'll all know exactly what we have to do, and we'll all be on the same page as to how we'll carry those things out," Hand said.

Hand noted that the effort to build relationships and trust between the players and coaches remains a high priority. Good progress was made in that area over the winter, and Hand expects it to continue.

"Hopefully, that level of trust will carry over onto the football field and help us grow closer as a team and play harder. We've been able to do that over the summer.

"Of course, we can't practice or have organized meetings with the players, but you get the chance to see them and talk with them. We talk about stuff that's away from football, like family things, girlfirends, classes and that's just as important as on the field things. We can also provide an occasional meal."

That last allowance provides the coaches a chance to get together with the players off the field. For example, Hand will have the tight ends over for a cookout sometime before camp begins the first week of August. That gives the players a chance to meet the coaches and their families away from football as well.

In other notes, the Mountaineer staff is still awaiting a test score from J.T Perry, as well as calculating grade point averages and gathering transcripts for eligiblity on several other players.

In this year's recruiting status, the staff is making the transition from evaluating players to building relationships with players they plan to offer.

"We've looked at a lot of film, and we are preparing for the six days that we have in the fall where we can go out on the road," Hand said. "We'll go to schools and get to as many games as we can. We usually do those on Fridays.

"Once September 1 hits, we can start calling again. We're limited to one call per week, but we also write letters and send emails and try to build relationships that way."

In an offshoot of recruiting, Hand also noted that the not having the use of a plane is still the biggest deficiency in recruiting at WVU. WVU Athletic Directory Ed Pastilong recently made a report that outlined the long range plans for maintaining and improving West Virginia's athletic programs, but did not mention any specifics.

"Right now we're controlled by the schedules of commercial air carriers," Hand noted. "When you consider how we have to get Coach Rodriguez around for recruiting visits, clinics and engagements, it's difficult when you have to fly on commerical airlines. It's tough from a time standpoint.

"It's also tough to get some players in on official visits. If you can fly some of those players in, it really helps. When we were at Clemson we had two of them (planes)."

The time savings are easily seen in the fact that most plyers on visits have to fly in to Pittsburgh, where they are then shuttled to WVU. That cuts at least 3-4 hours off their visits in travel time. Players flying in on private planes could fly direct to Morgantown.

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