While today's opening round of the W.Va. High School Girls State Basketball Tournament tips off at 9:30 a.m. with No. 3 St. Marys taking on No. 6 Tygarts Valley at the Charleston Civic Center, more eyes-and ears-may be looking and listening to the events in Morgantown as West Virginia University's football team prepares to open spring drills this weekend.
"When you look at it, there are about five phases that these guys have to go through," said head coach Dana Holgorsen during Tuesday's media luncheon. "Phase one is an eight-week offseason which is very vigorous and these guys have been doing a good job with Mike Joseph and his staff.
"I think our players are extremely motivated at this point. Obviously, ending the season the way we ended and losing a lot of star power, we have a bunch of hungry kids that want to prove themselves."
The most watched battles will be at quarterback and wide receiver where standouts Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods have departed. Fans also will be looking at how the 'new' coaching staff meshes with the returning Mountaineer players.
Gone are Bill Bedenbaugh (offensive line), Robert Gillespie (running backs) and Jake Spavital (quarterbacks). Former-Parkersburg South and West Liberty standout Ron Crook will take over for Bedenbaugh while former-WVU assistant Lonnie Galloway has returned to take over the coaching duties with the receivers as Shannon Dawson adds the quarterback coaching duties to his offensive coordinator's tasks.
For now (this could change before this weekend's first practice), Holgorsen's staff will be shy one coach as no replacement has been announced for Gillespie.
The Mountaineers' third-year head coach ended all speculation as to who the starting signal-caller would be for the old gold and blue when drills begin as he named four potential candidates for the job on Tuesday-junior Paul Millard, redshirt freshman Ford Childress, true freshman Chavas Rawlins and Fairmont native Logan Moore.
"They won't get an equal shot, but no one will get more than the other one," said Dawson. "Let's put it that way. At least at the beginning, everybody will get equal reps, and as the practices go and people do better, we'll flip reps accordingly."
While the Las Vegas odds-makers have yet to put a line on who they feel will be the heir-apparent to Smith, Mountaineer fans have certainly spent a great deal of time on the Internet debating the pros and cons of each candidate.
Obviously, Millard, who is the only one of the quartet to actually appear in a college game, should have a little bit of an edge in the battle. But, anyone watching WVU warm up prior to its games last fall had to be impressed with the arm strength of Childress.
The fact that Rawlins made the commitment to leave high school early so that he could participate in spring drills has to be a plus for his chances of becoming a player in what will be a day-to-day circus event.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org