(Travis Trickett joins the ‘3 Guys Before the Game’ podcast)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Travis Trickett is a second-generation coach entering his second season in his second stint on the WVU football coaching staff. His father Rick was the architect of an offensive line that helped to defeat Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. Travis is a one-time student assistant who is now the inside receivers and tight ends coach.
“Being the son of Rick Trickett comes with a lot of experiences,” Travis said. “Whether you were there or you hear people telling them second-hand or third-hand.”
Travis took an interest in football at an early age. From 1993-1998, Rick was the offensive line coach at Auburn. The family moved to Alabama when Travis was in the third grade.
“I was blessed to be around some great coaches. That’s just how it worked out. Growing up, dad was with Terry Bowden at Auburn and we were 47-17-1 in those six years. Being a kid growing up and being around those other guys, and taking lessons without knowing you are taking in lessons has been very helpful for me.
“The Saturday morning paper, I would always memorize the stats of the SEC leaders. I was probably annoying as hell to everybody but I would study it.”
The move to Morgantown
Rich Rodriguez hired Rick to his initial coaching staff in the winter of 2001. Travis played at Morgantown High School and was a member of their 2002 Class AAA state championship squad, led by Glen McNew.
“I am sitting next to (assistant coach) John Bowers, who ended up being the head coach later on. I said hey, ‘What do you think about this play?’ I think it was a draw. I would start suggesting plays and he would actually relay it in and the play got called. And it worked. I was thinking, that is pretty fun.”
On a family trip prior to his senior season, Travis told Rick that he wanted to enter the coaching profession.
“He looked at me like he was going to knock me into tomorrow. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t riding coattails. I wasn’t looking for the easy way or looking for his approval. He said, ‘Alright, I am fine if you want to coach, you do it all on your own. I am not going to help you at all. It is all on you’.
“After that first year as a student assistant, he realized I loved it and he realized I was committed to it. From that moment it went from a father-son relationship to becoming best friends. We talk everyday.”
Both of Travis’ brothers have also carved out careers in the game of football. Former WVU starting quarterback Clint Trickett is the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic. Chance Trickett is a scout for the Los Angeles Rams.
“My father told all three of us he never wanted us to get into coaching. But he never was the man that made us do anything. The only thing he said was, ‘If you are going to do something, you are going to do it right and you are going to finish it’.”
In the meeting rooms as a student assistant
Trickett served as a student assistant coach at WVU and in that time he had unique access to the coaches. Trickett sat in on coaches meetings, which of course contained frank discussions about players. Despite being a peer with and the same age as the players, Trickett says what was discussed in the meeting rooms stayed in the meeting rooms.
“No one ever tried to find anything out. I was never in that position. It was awesome for the coaching staff to let me in and do that. And the guys on the team, we were all family anyways. Being part of the group but not being the guy that is blood, sweat and tears between the white lines everyday and going through a Mike Barwis workout, but we all knew we were part of something special.”
Working alongside legends
Over the next few years, Trickett would work with some of the top coaches in college football. After graduating from WVU, he became a graduate assistant in Nick Saban’s first season at Alabama. The Marion County native has won six national championships.
“It was the best football experience I have ever had because it baptized me. Coach Saban had a way of making everyone in the building feel like, whatever your job was, it was the most important job to get done. And if you didn’t get it done to the best of your ability, the machine was going to fall apart. Everyone had a fourth-and-one mentality.
“My first week at Alabama, I said something to (offensive coordinator) Major (Applewhite) and he looked at me like, shut your mouth. That’s when I really learned, speak when spoken to.”
A year later, Trickett moved on to Florida State. In Tallahassee, he coached alongside College Football Hall of Famer and former WVU frontman Bobby Bowden and Clarksburg native Jimbo Fisher. Bowden retired after the 2009 season.
“His staff meetings were like story time. He starts talking and takes his glasses off and you start leaning in like grandpa around a fire.
“It is an opposite end of the spectrum, but that has been successful as well.”
Back in Morgantown
After a five-year run at Samford, a season at Florida Atlantic and two more at Georgia State, all of which included stints as offensive coordinator, Trickett was welcomed back to Morgantown as part of Neal Brown’s initial coaching staff a little over a year ago.
“How we are doing things is pretty special. I know that this is different. I felt that way when I was a G.A. under Coach Saban mainly because it was new. But now, being a grown coach I know how we are doing things is special.”
“I am happier than heck here. My grandma is twenty minutes away. I am learning every day. I have great players I am coaching. And it is my alma mater. It is a really great situation.”
Rick Trickett adjusting to new technology
At 72 years of age, Rick Trickett is still in the game. He is back at his alma mater of Glenville State, serving as the assistant head coach, run game coordinator and offensive line coach. Rick has developed a unique way of communicating with family that are scattered around the country.
“Rick Trickett has discovered the app Tik Tok. He is not posting anything. But he is on it. So our family text message group, we get a new Tik Tok from him about every 20 to 25 minutes. Half of them are funny, half of them really aren’t that funny. But he thinks it is the funniest thing on the face of the earth. He goes down a rabbit hole he can’t get out of.”
Over the holidays this winter, Rick and Travis somewhat uncomfortably found out that they were recruiting some of the same in-state players. Travis was seeking invited walk-ons and Rick was offering scholarships.
“It is Christmas. We are sitting at the house and we are recruiting the same kids. I am sitting on the couch and he is just rocking back and forth in his chair with his arms crossed just staring at me.
“Five minutes go by and he is still doing it. And all of a sudden he says, ‘You ain’t getting them boys’. I said, ‘What are you talking about? Are you talking about the kids we are recruiting?’ He says, ‘Oh yeah, they want to come to Glenville’. I said, ‘Are you seriously pissed about this right now?’
“My mom looks at my wife and asks, ‘Are they fighting?’ Tiffany peeks outside and sees me laughing and dad pissed and she says, ‘Travis is laughing but Rick looks pretty pissed’. So the competitive juices in Rick Trickett have not slowed down at all.”