Keeping Focus A Key

If there's one thing a coach preparing for post season play will tell you that he doesn't want, it's distractions.

Those distractions can come in many forms. Some can be internal, like player problems. Others, like the one beginning to brew at West Virginia, are entirely external. In this case, of course, we're talking about possible job offers for head football coach Rich Rodriguez.

Coach Rod confirmed over the weekend that Kentucky has contacted WVU about him, and that unofficial representatives of other schools have also been in touch. This has put a slight damper on the enthusiasm over West Virginia's 9-3 revival this year. But fear not, Mountaineer fans -- it's the nature of the beast.

Coaches that go 5-6 every year usually don't get contacted for new jobs, so it's really a positive sign that WVU's coaches are on someone else's list. That's going to continue to be a reality until WVU becomes a perennial top 25 team, and that, of course, is not the case just yet.

With that given, let's look at the short term. Will Rodriguez be able to keep the focus on bowl preparations, and more importantly, keep his team pointed in that direction as well?

Unless this issue gets overheated out of all proportion, the answer is probably yes. Rodriguez is nothing if not determined and driven. He has shown, over the past two seasons, his ability to work on the task at hand and not get bogged down by things that he can't change.

That leads to the thought that Rodriguez could eliminate all the distractions by simply saying 'I'm not a candidate for any other job. I'm staying at West Virginia.' While we'd love for that to happen, it's simply not realistic. Would you do it? Especially if you were offered gobs of additional money?

Which all brings us almost back to our starting point. If Rodriguez teams continue to have success, he, and his assistants, will have other offers. (Defensive line coach Paul Randolph interviewed for the head coaching job at Tennessee-Martin late last month, for example.)

WVU isn't likely to have the luck it did with Don Nehlen, who stayed for less money despite several very good job offers. The vault is probably going to have to be opened to a greater degree than it ever has before at WVU. And with money tight all across the Mountain State, it might be difficult to open it wide enough.


Two quick questions:

1) WVU came in for a lot of harsh criticism last year when they extended Rodriguez' contract for a year after his 3-8 campaign. Anyone think that was a bad move now? That show of good faith could help WVU in their negotiations with Rodriguez in the future.

2) In the early years of Don Nehlen's tenure, he also faced the distractions of other job offers during bowl season. WVU went 3-1 in Nehlen's first four bowls.

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