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No need to be bitter when coaches leave

MORGANTOWN - Odds and ends and a few things I think I think just after finding out that Brad Nessler is now apparently working at a parking garage in Hartford, Conn.:

We'll save that one until the end. I know the suspense is killing you.

First things first, which today, of course, is the upheaval of West Virginia's defensive coaching staff. Why is it that when anyone leaves West Virginia, some people automatically turn bitter and/or begin maintaining that the guy wasn't any good anyway?

Not all, but enough to make it seem as if pettiness and ignorance rule the day.

Here's what we know about Jeff Casteel, Bill Kirelawich and David Lockwood, all three of whom are headed to Arizona to coach with Rich Rodriguez again: All, to varying degrees, were pretty much ingrained into WVU football.

Casteel was born in the state and served the school well enough for 11 years that the market price for his services as a defensive coordinator was half a million bucks, minimum. He never said a bad word about WVU, worked his tail off under three different head coaches and, when it was time to leave, did it the right way by coaching through the end of the season and absolutely refusing to allow anything to distract him or his players. A class act all the way.

Kirelawich wasn't born here, but he's as much a part of WVU's program as anyone, having coached almost non-stop at the school for 32 years, as far back as Frank Cignetti's last season. He's never coached at another college and even when Rodriguez was hired in 2001 and elected not to keep him, Kirlav spent two years working elsewhere in the program before returning to the field. A foul-mouthed, cigar-puffing absolute joy.

And Lockwood, while not nearly as ingrained in the program as the others, served the school as a four-year cornerback who started on the 1988 Fiesta Bowl team, returned as a coach the first time just in time for Don Nehlen's retirement, and then again for the rather ill-fated Bill Stewart era. Shoot, the guy worked through his own reconstructive knee surgery two years ago.

And now because they're moving on - and perhaps especially because they are moving back in with Rodriguez - they are, at least in alarmingly large chunks of cyberspace and elsewhere, either traitorous or inept, or both.

Please, show some class.

It had to be difficult for all of the defensive coaches to watch what happened to the men they'd worked with for years cast aside when Stewart and the offensive staff were shown the door. They seemed to get along OK with Dana Holgorsen and the group he brought in, but I don't think there was much camaraderie there. That's no one's fault, it's just natural. It was, I would imagine, at best uncomfortable.

So if there's an opportunity to move on, why not? Especially if it's an opportunity to pretty much recreate the staff Rodriguez had here? Now there's a comfort zone. Casteel can try to show that he can do it somewhere other than WVU, Kirlav can bark at large men and watch spring training games in the desert as he approaches retirement, and Lockwood can start fresh (his eighth school in 23 years) and work toward becoming a coordinator again.

The bottom line, folks, is that your father didn't just abandon your family. Good football coaches took new jobs. Other good football coaches will replace them. It's not that big a deal, so don't drag it into the gutter.

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  • OK, so it sounds like this is a day for preaching, so while I'm at it let's get it all out.

    Topic No. 2 that I can't stand hearing from fans: How Big East officials are going to screw West Virginia's basketball team every chance they get because the school is leaving for the Big 12.

    Shut up, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!

    Let me make this as quick and simple as possible. There is no such thing as a Big East basketball official. The officials who work Big East games are independent contractors, if you will. The Big East gets the best ones possible. So does the ACC and the SEC and the Big Ten and the Big 12.

    And more often than not, they are the same guys.

    Take Joe Lindsay, Pat Driscoll and Mike Roberts, for example. They worked the WVU-UConn game on Monday. Lindsay's game before that was in the SEC and before that the ACC. Since the first of the year, Driscoll has worked games in the Big East, Big Ten, ACC and the MAAC. And Roberts, since Dec. 31, has worked at venues in the Big East, ACC, SEC, Atlantic 10 and Horizon.

    (By the way, officials working too many games is another issue, but that isn't the topic today.)

    The point, though, is that if you insist on maintaining that every time a call goes against West Virginia it's because of some vast Big East conspiracy, you're just showing your ignorance. So save yourself and don't do it.

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  • And finally, back to Nessler. You'll recall he was the ESPN guy who, during the Sugar Bowl telecast featuring Virginia Tech and Michigan, noted during a promo that "another team from the state of Virginia'' would be playing the following night against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

    Sheesh.

    Anyway, Monday night I pull into a parking garage near the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., and the attendant asks me if I'm there for the basketball game between Connecticut and West Virginia. I said yes and he charged me the flat $10 event-parking fee. I didn't think anything about it until he gave me the ticket stub and said, 'Yeah, I thought so. I saw the license plate.''

    Now, mind you, I'm driving a rental car and I have no idea what kind of plates are on it. Suffice it to say, though, I drive probably 20 or 30 different rentals every year and I doubt I've ever had one with West Virginia plates.

    So when I parked and got out I looked. Not this time, either.

    They were Virginia plates.

    Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com.


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