Coaching Derby Continues

West Virginia's search for seven new assistant coaches is picking up steam, with at least four candidates for varying positions appearing to be leading for spots on head coach Bill Stewart's staff.

All four of those potential coaches have West Virginia ties. Steve Dunlap, John "Doc" Holliday and David Lockwood, who have all played for and coached at West Virginia, appear to be strong candidates for spots on the staff. Dunlap, currently the defensive coordinator at Marshall, played for West Virginia from 1973-75, totaling 359 tackles during his stellar career. He coached linebackers and defense backs during his 17 years at West Virginia, with the final ten including duties as defensive coordinator.

Holliday, an associate head coach who also oversees safeties at Florida, was a linebacker for the Mountaineers from 1976-78. He was a graduate assistant, part time assistant and assistant coach at West Virginia from 1979-1999, coaching wide receivers and inside linebackers during that span. He was also an assistant head coach for the Mountaineers during the final five seasons of his tenure.

Lockwood played for the Mountaineers as a defensive back from 1985-88, then served one year as a graduate assistant in 1989 before moving on to Delaware. He returned to WVU as a defensive backs coach under Don Nehlen in 2000, and was slated to be retained on Rich Rodriguez' staff for 2001. However, he got an offer from Notre Dame soon after Rodriguez came aboard, and after one season with the Irish moved on to Minnesota, where he was the Golden Gophers' defensive coordinator for the final two years of his five-year stint. He joined Kentucky's staff this season as defensive backs coach.

The fourth candidate is graduate assistant Pat Kirkland, who helped coach West Virginia's secondary in its 48-28 Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Kirkland was West Virginia's defensive graduate assistant in 2007.

The quartet does not comprise, however, the only coaches associated with the search. Several other names have surfaced over the past few days, and some of those could also end up in the Puskar Center as soon as a week from today.

On the offensive side, Charlie Taaffe is one of the higher profile names being mentioned. A college and professional veteran, Taaffe is currently the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League. Prior to that, he was Maryland's offensive coordinator from 2001-05, an assistant coach for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, and the head coach at The Citadel. Taaffe is credited for building the most potent offensive attack in Maryland history.

Another possibility for a staff slot is Pat Randolph, a former Mountaineer running back who is now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Howard. Randolph, a New Jersey native, graduated from West Virginia in 1988.

After dropping out of the derby for the head coaching position, two-time former WVU assistant coach Rick Trickett could also be in the mix at this point. It would likely take a long-term contract to bring the offensive line coach back to West Virginia, but that is not out of the question at this point.

Purdue's Bill Legg and Tulsa's Herb Hand are potential targets as well. Both are familiar with the spread offense, and both have familiarity with West Virginia's recruiting grounds. It is unlikely, however, that either would return to West Virginia as anything other than a coordinator.

Another name to watch is Chris Beatty, who coached Mountaineer recruit T. J. Mitchell at Landstown High School in Virginia. Stewart was Mitchell's primary recruiter, and is very familiar with Beatty and his talents. Beatty rang up a 40-2 record at Landstown before moving on to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Hampton University in 2006. He then took a job as running backs coach at Northern Illinois for the 2007 season. With NIU head coach Joe Novak retiring, Beatty is available.

The offensive line coaching position is also open, and could entertain several candidates. Among those could be Dale Wolfley, Dale Williams or Joe Pendry, all of whom have had their names mentioned in connection with the search. Wolfley is the head coach a Phoenix College, while Williams is the offensive line coach at Florida Atlantic. Pendry is currently the offensive assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Alabama, where he moved last year after a 19-year stay in the NFL ranks with six different teams.

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