Thursday, April 09, 2009
Per Grippi, the assistants under Bennett are starting to go over the rail. First Ron Sanchez made it official (although nobody is surprised, given that Sanchez accompanied Bennett to Virginia for his press conference, etc!). We also already heard that Mike Heideman would be moving on, based on his long-time relationships with the Bennett family. And Grippi also re-confirms that Mark Woodley is going in another direction.
So who's left? As of right this moment, Ben Johnson.
Will he stay or will he go? And does it REALLY MATTER?
First of all, the two assistants you used to hear the most about in terms of recruiting ability were Ron Sanchez and Ben Johnson. Losing Sanchez hurts, absolutely. He has been regarded as a big reason for Xavier Thames, and a hope that Thames will still honor his commitment if Sanchez were kept around. But Sanchez leaving seemed like a foregone conclusion from the moment Bennett took the job. But it isn't the end of the world. Truth be told, the common man such as myself heard more about Johnson than any other assistant over the years. Some WSU beat writers (Grippi??) actually thought Johnson could be a candidate for the WSU head coaching position, even if Jim Sterk and Elson Floyd didn't.
So the focus is now on Johnson, and whether or not he'll follow the Bennett's as he has done in his past. Or will he stay to build something greater in Pullman, and maybe one day get a head gig himself, ala the "benefactor" as BH refers to him?
Now before you freak out, I wonder if we are just too close to it to see things clearly? I mean does it really matter which holdover assistants a new head coach actually keeps? I know there is a ton of interest in what this incoming recruiting class is going to do, and some of it very likely could be tied to which assistants are kept and so on. But can you let a few kids hold a program hostage by trying to dictate who should be kept? Of course not.
Think about it for a second. So many times you see a new coach come in. Do they always simply inherit the current assistants? No. Not in college hoops, college football, NFL football, MLB, or the NBA. Sure, a few might be kept around, such as Levy and Steve Broussard last year in the football program, and for good reason. And without a doubt, Johnson would be a good "get" for Bone, for a variety of reasons. It would be a better situation if he is kept, for recruiting, sure, but for just the idea of helping Bone settle into the WSU job. But for the most part, in all sports where a new coach is brought in from the outside, the head guy wants "his guys", not force-fed the prior staff.
And it's not like Bone is coming alone. He'll bring a key assistant or two with him, and he'll probably hire one from somewhere else as well. There is already talk of four or even five assistants that will be behind Bone in the pecking order, so give the guy a chance. Don't simply assume he's already failed at this because the majority of the Bennett assistants are moving on. There could be so many reasons we'll never know about as to why an assistant leaves, from as extreme loyalty to Bennett, to another job offer elsewhere, to even just the simple fact of it's time to move on down the road.
One name already mentioned is former UW player and current PSU assistant Curtis Allen. Per Bob Condotta at the Times, Allen will likely be asked to follow Bone to Pullman. Sure, Allen is a former HUSKY hoopster, but he's also well-regarded by Bone, enough so to likely get an offer to be a part of his staff in Pullman. You can read Allen's coaching bio here. Allen is young, and he's a Tacoma product. Think that will help just a little bit in recruiting the west side? It sure couldn't hurt to try and mine some gold in the Puget Sound area, an area that the Bennett's never could make any progress.
And about Allen and the former UW tie? Get over it. We joke about it all the time, but it really doesn't matter. Just like former WSU footballer Johnny Nansen is coaching for Steve Sarkisian's staff in Montlake, it means nothing. See, not every former player can go back and coach at their alma mater! There simply isn't enough room on the bench. Even the UW head man Lorenzo Romar served some time on UCLA's bench.
Meanwhile, Cougfan broke last night that "one recruit is secured, three to go for Bone". While the story is premium, we can't list the name....but it is a player regarded as "an all-state SWING MAN". By that description alone, you can probably figure out who it is.
In that same breath, it's not over yet with Xavier Thames. Again, per Cougfan, Bone will sit down with Thames on Saturday to go over the new direction of the program. Bone has his work cut out for him, but if he can persuade Thames to stick with it, well, we can consider it an early win.
Oh yeah, spring football is still going on. There's this from Grippi, saying that the team was pretty flat on Tuesday. Oh well. They are in the "dog days" of spring. This happens during fall camp as well. The initial surge is over, but they still have work to do.
One last thing - FACEBOOK. We actually figured out a way to set up a true "WSU Football Blog" group on Facebook. Hoorah. Go to Facebook and search for WSU Football Blog and you'll find it. We'll be putting up photos, link to our current stories, etc. And if you have some photos you want to share, basically anything WSU-related? Send them on and we'll post them on Facebook. E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. See, setting up a WSU Football Blog group, that was the intent all along with Facebook. I just had no idea what I was doing.
That's it. Enjoy your Thursday, AND GO COUGS!