MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With no bowl game on the holiday horizon, the agenda for West Virginia football has turned toward how to repair the program, and in particular the intertwined facets of recruiting and facilities.
The slumping Mountaineers are 4-7 and facing a two-week hiatus before the season finale against Iowa State, a game with all the allure of an intramural practice. With an eye toward 2014, Dana Holgorsen was asked Tuesday about the current recruiting class taking shape—one that features 15 commitments and might yet grow to the 25-signee maximum even though that number would put West Virginia over its 85-man scholarship limit.
Attrition could be the means of accommodating a full recruiting class.
“The depth is building. The numbers are getting right,” Holgorsen said. “You don’t want to lose guys, but the fact of the matter is that if guys don’t go to class, or if they fail out, or if they don’t do the right things socially and get kicked out, that happens when you’re dealing with 100 kids. More than likely we’re going to lose a couple for a variety of reasons.
“I’m comfortable with us being able to go out and get to 25, because we’re three-quarters of the way there right now.”
And what recruiting conversation would be complete without a mention of facilities, or in West Virginia’s case, a perceived lack thereof.
Given that WVU was coming off a loss to Kansas, the timing wasn’t great Tuesday for Holgorsen to complain about amenities. But in his defense, the question was asked, and his answer reiterated things the coach has said publicly for several months.
“There’s a list, and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable with the requests I’m asking for,” Holgorsen said. After waxing grateful for the recently remodeled weight room, he said the team meeting area (from which Holgosen’s news conferences originate) is insufficient, much like the indoor practice facility and outdoor practice field.
“You’ve got to be able to meet appropriately, which we can’t, and you’ve got to be able to practice appropriately, which we can’t,” he said. “So those (improvements) are where we’re headed.
“We’re working hard to get out there and raise the money we need to be able to make some of this stuff a reality.”
West Virginia’s football facilities, while by no means bleak, lag in comparison to its Big 12 opponents. Kansas, for instance, plays at not-so-impressive Memorial Stadium yet has two artificial turf practice fields adjacent to it.
Holgorsen said installing artificial turf on WVU’s grass practice field “would be awesome,” considering the Mountaineers currently utilize that practice field only “six times a year.”
“It’s about having a proper surface. If it’s real grass, that’s fine—as long as it holds up. Right now that grass can’t hold up. If you’re on it and it’s wet and you’re tearing it up, you can’t use it.”
Then there’s the issue of the Caperton Indoor Facility, constructed in 1998 for $9 million with new FieldTurf installed in 2006 for another $600,000. It features a 90-yard field, whereas six other Big 12 schools have full-length indoor surfaces. (The others that don’t: Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU.)
Asked if renovations would cure WVU’s indoor facility, Holgorsen said, “No, you’ve got to blow it up.” So why does he want to bring in the dynamite?
“You need runoff, you need proper length and if you want to do the kicking game in there you need (the roof) to be a little higher,” Holgorsen said. “It’s dysfunctional. We use it for some offseason stuff, but it needs to be more functional.”
Most practices currently take place at Mountaineer Field, which doesn’t sit well with Holgorsen in light of the new practice complex completed at his former school, Oklahoma State, or the larger complexes constructed by K-State in 1995 and Oklahoma in 2002.
“You shouldn’t have to practice on your game field,” he said. “Nobody else does.”