Good, bad news out of WVU

The news coming out of Morgantown these days is, at best, a mixed bag of both good and bad news.

It would appear that the coaching carousel has continued with the departure of defensive line coach Erik Slaughter and the hiring of Miramar High School (Miramar, Fla.) head coach Damon Cogdell-an outstanding linebacker on the 1997 and 98 Mountaineer squads.

Cogdelll’s resume is impressive, but yet another coaching change for a unit that has seen its fair share of change over the past four years isn’t a good thing. All one has to do is look at the seniors on this year’s offensive front to see why having different coaches every year causes more problems than acceptable results.

Hopefully, the lessons learned from that unit’s failures over the past two years will have been learned so that when spring drills open in late March the defense will be a solid, unified unit with one goal-stopping the opposing offense-as its primary driving force.

On the players’ front, it would appear that sophomore-to-be quarterback Ford Childress has elected not to return to Morgantown to compete for a position that added a junior college transfer as well as a highly-touted freshman to its ranks.

Riverside City College signal-caller Skylar Howard (5-11, 200) is expected to be part of the active roster when spring drills begin and will compete against incumbents Clint Trickett and Paul Millard for the starting job when WVU takes on Alabama in the season opener in August. That trio will be joined by Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Baltimore) standout William Crest during the summer.

More than one eyebrow was raised when Childress, who started against George State and Maryland, elected to seek ‘medical advice’ from a hometown physician when it was discovered that he had played in the loss to the Terps with a torn pectoral muscle. Even more eyebrows were raised when head coach Dana Holgorsen announced that he was cleared to practice prior to the Kansas and Iowa State fiasco.

One can only speculate that the Houston native’s drive to return as the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback was somewhat affected by his desire to leave the program. More speculation would have the battle for the starting position to be a two-man affair between Trickett and Howard with Millard, who started the first two games of the season, as the emergency backup and Crest receiving a much-needed redshirt year.

But, all that is sheer speculation until we see just who suits up in March and how the battle shapes out during the spring.

One fact that is not up for speculation is the Mountaineers’ season-opener-Alabama.

After back-to-back losses to end the 2013 season, you can bet that West Virginia-native Nick Saban will have the Crimson Tide hungrier than ever when they take on the old gold and blue in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta. On a positive note, fans should remember WVU’s last game at the site-a 38-35 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com