MORGANTOWN - There is an argument to be made that, despite his standing as one of only two state natives on West Virginia's football coach staff, Ron Crook's adjustment curve is just a bit steeper than that of most of the other four new coaches on the staff.
After all, three of those other four have worked here before, and quite recently. Tony Gibson spent seven years on Rich Rodriguez's staff in Morgantown. JuJuan Seider played quarterback here and was a graduate assistant as recently as four years ago. Lonnie Galloway was on Bill Stewart's staff just two years ago.
Crook? He's not coached a day at WVU and it's been 13 years since he blew a whistle inside the state, and that was at West Virginia Tech (which wasn't even WVU Tech then).
Still, familiarity with the state or the program or any of those intangibles perhaps isn't Crook's most challenging adjustment.
It's coaching a different breed of players. He's spent the last two years at Stanford. He spent the eight prior to that at Harvard.
Without disparaging the academic credentials of your state's flagship university - or those of most states, for that matter - there's just a difference right?
"Well, I hope there's not a big difference,'' Crook said.
Well, the truth is, where Crook's position is concerned the difference is probably mitigated. Having covered college football for more than three decades, I can say with at least some sense of certainty that, as a general rule, offensive linemen tend to be among the smartest players who strap on a helmet.
And so given that Crook's task at West Virginia is as the school's offensive line coach, maybe the adjustment won't be so great. At least he hopes that's the case.
"The thing that I've experienced is that at both [Harvard and Stanford], even though there's [a higher caliber of] scholar-athletes, football is very important to them,'' Crook said. "They wanted to work hard at it and they had a passion for it. I think you see the same thing in the guys here. Maybe some of the off-the-field things are different from their standpoint, but I'm not approaching it any differently.''
What Crook, a Parkersburg native, can approach differently is when it comes time to re-
cruit those athletes. At Harvard and Stanford, the list of potential recruits was always a relatively short one. Not only did they have to be top-notch athletes (especially at the latter), but they had to meet rigorous eligibility standards.