That conference up north, which may destroy the Big East in the future and in the past has come to WVU for coaches, refreshed its interest in tormenting the Mountaineers last week. Penn State requested and was granted permission to speak with men’s soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc about the same position in Happy Valley.
Neither Pastilong nor Hawes, who oversees WVU’s Olympic sports, knew of any discussions between LeBlanc and Penn State. LeBlanc declined comment and wouldn’t confirm the details or the existence of any interaction with the Nittany Lions.
“Really at this point all I’m aware of is they have permission to talk to him,” said Hawes, who was contacted by the chair of PSU’s search committee. “As far as any negotiations or any other type of activity, I don’t know anything about that.”
Pastilong said he hasn’t spoken with LeBlanc or PSU. Hawes said while she and LeBlanc speak regularly, the opening in State College, Pa., has never been part of their conversation.
LeBlanc was a player and assistant coach at PSU … so this is at least worrisome for WVU.
LeBlanc is 41-23-16 in four seasons and did his best work his first two years when he entered a program in shambles and went 29-9-5. People forget, but he was hired days before the start of the 2006 season and there was an ugly divorce between former coach Mike Seabolt, who was fired for doing some pretty stupid stuff, and WVU, which was dragged into court to defend its decision to oust Seabolt.
LeBlanc was Big East Coach of the Year and the FieldTurf-Tarket and Soccer America national coach of the year his first year and started landing big-time recruits right away. The Mountaineers won the Big East regular season title in 2006. They made the NCAA Tournament this first two years and the Sweet Sixteen in 2007.
Dude can coach, but he’s just as good an ambassador.
The East Windsor, N.J., native holds national, advanced national and premier coaching diplomas with a “Distinguished Pass” from the NSCAA. In 2005, LeBlanc served as a clinician at the NSCAA national convention.
He is a member of the Black Soccer Coaches Association (BSCA) and serves on the Leadership Council for the Black Soccer Coaches Committee. In addition, LeBlanc holds a position as the BIG EAST representative on the NSCAA/adidas Division I Men’s National Ranking Committee. He also is a member of the Black Coaches Association (BCA), the NSCAA/adidas Northeast Ranking Committee and the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee. LeBlanc serves on the NCAA Certification Committee on Gender Equity and Diversity as well.
LeBlanc was instrumental in the creation of the One WVU initiative, which promotes diversity among all races of students, faculty and staff through fellowship on WVU’s campuses.
So, yeah, WVU very much like who and what it has in LeBlanc.
“We would like him to stay with us, however, I can understand if he was to have a conversation with them,” Pastilong said. “That would be perfectly understandable.”
Hawes and Pastilong said it was premature to discuss measures to keep LeBlanc, but Pastilong noted “it always depends on the particular situation” and drew a parallel to men’s basketball Coach Bob Huggins.
“He was at Kansas State and we asked him to come back to his school,” Pastilong said. “I’m sure those types of situation would weigh heavily on one’s decision.”
I spoke with one person who’s spoken to LeBlanc since this all began and said person said LeBLanc really, really likes WVU and that he has an affinity for the program and wants to continue what he started. LeBlanc believes with the current roster, the Mountaineers can win at a high level and sooner rather than later.
But how about the Big Televen? In 2007 WVU’s respected women’s track and field Coach Jeff Huntoon was hired as an assistant with the Indiana program. Men’s basketball Coach John Beilein left WVU for Michigan after winning the 2007 NIT. A year earlier, the Hoosiers asked WVU for permission to interview Beilein. Football Coach Rich Rodriguez left in 2007 to join Beilein with the Wolverines. In between, Michigan courted women’s soccer Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.