Holgorsen doesn't like scrimmages
MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while waiting for West Virginia's first, real, full-scale scrimmage:
And waiting. And waiting.
"We could do that, but we're not going to,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "There's a whole bunch of drill work and stuff that we need to address.''
Used to be you could pretty much set your watch - or at least know where you were on the calendar - by West Virginia's August scrimmage schedule. The first one was usually the Saturday at the end of the first full week of practice. There'd be smaller scrimmages during the next week and then pretty much a blowout one at the end of camp, just before classes began.
Holgorsen was asked a few days ago about his team's scrimmages. There are always team periods where the offense works against the defense and there are times when the coaches will simply put things together for 15 or 20 minutes and let them play to see where things stand.
But a full-scale, game-like practice?
"Well, when's the first game? The first [of September]?'' Holgorsen asked. "That's what we're shooting for.''
About the closest Holgorsen will come to scrimmaging full scale might be what he did Monday when he ran what he estimated to be about 50 plays. But
they were done at various times throughout practice rather than in a concentrated game-like situation.
"We'll continue to do a lot of individual drills, but we're at the point where we need to put the ball down and play,'' Holgorsen said.
Still, it won't dominate practices.
"We'd rather do drill work, inside drill, seven-on-seven, pass rush, one-on-ones, all that stuff. There's a whole bunch of stuff we need to practice,'' Holgorsen said. "If you just put the ball down and play all day, you're going to get a bunch of people hurt. So we try to keep that in small little segments.
"I don't like scrimmages. I don't like to put the ball and have a 120-play scrimmage. We expect them to go out there and play hard every day and have short little mini-scrimmages throughout camp. I think that's better overall for the health of your football team.''
I was struck by the fact that West Virginia's Big 12 basketball schedule released last week makes no concession to the Mountaineers' travel issues.
Only twice is WVU scheduled to play back-to-back road games against Big 12 teams and both times the first is on a Saturday and the second the following Wednesday, four days later.
It might have been nice to schedule, say, a Thursday-Saturday or a Monday-Wednesday trip where one trip might cover two games.
Bob Huggins thought so, too.
"I suggested that,'' he said. "But apparently they didn't think it was a good idea.''
Huggins specifically thought that perhaps a small road swing of any type in early January would have made sense, given that school doesn't resume after the holiday break until Jan. 14. Instead, the league scheduled the Mountaineers for a game at Texas on Jan. 9, sandwiched between home games with Oklahoma and Kansas State, both before classes begin.
The women's schedule is the same - no two-in-one trips and two holiday-break road games interrupted by a return home for two.
Oh, well. West Virginia knew what it was getting into.
And finally, while I hesitate to bring this up for the very reason I'm about to criticize others for doing the same, it probably needs mentioning.
When Holgorsen signed that rich new contract last week that will pay him anywhere from $16.9 to $20.5 million over six years (assuming he stays for the duration and depending upon the incentives reached), the vast majority of those outside of West Virginia who read about it did so via The Associated Press report. And it took the AP exactly four paragraphs before diving into Holgorsen's much-publicized casino debacle of the spring of 2011.
OK, so maybe that's fair. It's like George O'Leary's resume fiasco at Notre Dame. It's going to follow him forever.
In pointing out Holgorsen's transgressions, though, the AP - and I'm sure others - searched the new contract to find language that applied. And Holgorsen's contract contains a stipulation that WVU can terminate the contract for cause for a laundry list of reasons, one of which is: "Substance abuse or habitual insobriety which affects his job performance.''
Now, if you've never read a coaching contract and you're looking for it, that jumps right out there and screams "Cover Your Rear.'' But it's in virtually every coach's contract.
In fact, take a look at the last full contract signed by a West Virginia football coach, the one the late Bill Stewart agreed to in 2008. There was no fear on the part of anyone drawing up contracts that Stewart was going to go on any sort of embarrassing binges, right? Yet his contract language said one of the reasons he could be fired for cause was due to "Substance abuse or habitual insobriety.''
That's it. Not, as Holgorsen's contract reads, "Substance abuse or habitual insobriety which affects his job performance.''
In other words, Holgorsen's contract is actually less stringent in that regard than was Stewart's. No one is suggesting that Holgorsen can drink himself under the table whenever and wherever he wants, but according to the contract, unless it affects his job performance, it's OK.
So let's dispense with the notion that Holgorsen's pact contains language crafted in response to past events. It doesn't.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.