(Done deal. Gillespie to Tennessee.)
It’s March 1, four days from Dana Holgorsen pre-spring football luncheon and nine days before spring practice, and WVU’s head football coach might lose a fifth assistant coach here soon.
Following the departures of Steve Dunlap (still at the university, by the way) and Daron Roberts by Holgorsen’s designs and Jake Spavital and Bill Bedenbaugh by the desires of another school, Holgorsen may soon see Robert Gillespie whistle Dixie down to Knoxville and the University Tennessee.
All the reports coming out of the Marble City are, to varying degrees, true. Gillespie has interviewed for the vacant running backs coach and, as such, is interested in a school interested in him.
Right here, let’s agree on one thing: If you want to engage in a conversation about how Tennessee is not a good career move, that the program is down in the dumps, that there’s no future there, so on and so forth, you’re probably not fit to engage in other conversations.
Step back, please, and take a long look. That’s Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference. It’s a top college football institution and, boy, if you return it to former glory, you probably want for nothing when it comes to future opportunities.
I can’t pin down that he’s a leader or that it’s Gillespie’s job to turn down, but that’s common when I’m on this side of things. And it’s quiet at WVU, which is also common.
But Gillespie is a wanted man. Remember, Florida made a push three signing periods ago after Will Muschamp landed there, which led to the, I think, unprecedented “Move along, nothing to see here” press release on signing day.
I think I thought that if things got messy with the NCAA case that splashed on Louisville’s shore that old friend Chuck Strong would make a move for Gillespie.
He’s just really, really good in a living room, and particularly the ones in south Florida, and he can coach more than a little bit, too. His peers rave. And now Butch Jones, certainly a guy who’s had an eye on WVU, is making his move.
The next move, one would imagine, is Gillespie’s. I can’t imagine this lasts through the weekend, one way or the other, because of the aforementioned dates — and Tennessee has to deal with some of those, too.
I do believe there’s one very good name out there — sorry, not fair to that person to throw it out there right now, but use your imagination — the Mountaineers could pursue, if necessary, but I also know WVU will look long and far for the right fit, a la Ron Crook.
Then again, it is March 1. A lot of coaches are locked in for 2013.
But let’s forward this a bit. A good bit. Maybe even an irresponsible bit. What if a third coach leaves for a new job? What does that do, as far as perceptions are concerned, for the Mountaineers, their program, their recruiting, their move to the Big 12 Conference, the place that was supposed to pull the stepping stone out of the ground and send it skipping along the Monongahela River until it sunk to a depth from where it would not return?