MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If the past few months have served to illustrate nothing else where West Virginia's football coaching staff is concerned, it is that Morgantown is not a destination job.
Does that surprise you? Well, it shouldn't.
The reality is that where this group of nomadic whistle-tooters is concerned, there really is no such place. Anywhere.
Not College Station, Texas. Not Norman, Okla. Not Knoxville, Tenn. And certainly not Morgantown, W.Va.
So many people seem so bent out of shape that WVU is losing quality assistant coaches left and right. Three now have left of their own volition. Throw in the two that Dana Holgorsen decided he would be better off without and that's five vacancies on a nine-man staff.
But if you think these guys are fleeing like rats from a sinking ship, well, you just haven't been paying much attention. It's the nature of the business. Considering the three who have left as if they are in a vacuum is to ignore the landscape while focusing only on our one little hill.
Think not? Well, think again. Examine what has transpired.
Jake Spavital left a job where he was the youngest and lowest-paid assistant coach (tied with Erik Slaughter and since-fired Daron Roberts at $200,000) and working in the shadow of his mentor, Holgorsen, in order to coach Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and share play-calling duties at Texas A&M. It can be argued that no one was more loyal to Holgorsen than Spavital, but he advanced his career enormously by doing so.
Bill Bedenbaugh was about to begin making $300,000 as WVU's offensive line coach. He went to Oklahoma for what is believed to be slightly less. Is that a red flag? No. He's closer to his Midwest roots at one of about 10 programs in the country that can legitimately be called elite. He'll have a chance to work with and recruit better athletes, which stands to improve his resume for whatever he wants to do down the road.
And Robert Gillespie just left for Tennessee. Go ahead, look at it in the narrow prism of what WVU and Tennessee have done lately. If you do that, you're missing the point again. Gillespie is now an assistant coach at an SEC school steeped in tradition. He was born in Mississippi, played in the SEC at Florida and coached in the league at South Carolina. He has a chance to help rebuild Vols football, where 100,000 just might show up for Butch Jones' debut against ... wait for it ... Austin Peay. Consider that Gillespie had about 1,500 followers on Twitter after two years at West Virginia. He had over 7,000 followers after two days in Knoxville.
So don't for a minute try to argue that any of those three are diminishing themselves or even making lateral moves in leaving West Virginia. They aren't. The bottom line is that if they aren't in a better place right now, they have at least put themselves in position to be in a better place soon.
That's what assistant coaches do. For whatever reasons. They may be personal reasons or professional reasons. It might be because of family or the chance to work with someone in particular or to broaden their horizons or to position themselves for whatever the next step is. And for virtually all of them, there will be a next step.