So now that Rich Rodriguez has raided the West Virginia defensive staff, Ted Miller over at the Pac-12 blog notes that Arizona has become West Virginia -- Southwest.
With Jeff Casteel and Bill Kirelawich on board, six of the nine assistants Rodriguez hired were with him at some point during his tenure in Morgantown from 2001-07. Miller wonders how their unfamiliarity with the West Coast will impact the coaches:
That will, at least in the short term, lead to challenges. Recruiting is about relationships, and those will need to be built up, particularly with West Coast high school coaches. Further, there will be a lack of familiarity in conference play. ...
No offense to the Big East, but Casteel didn't see many Carson Palmers, Aaron Rodgerses, Andrew Lucks or Matt Barkleys during his 11 years at West Virginia. Quarterbacks who can put the ball wherever they want to create myriad challenges for a defense.
That certainly may be true, but Casteel held his own in Morgantown with his unique 3-3-5 stack defense -- one Miller believes will fare just fine in the Pac-12. If you are looking at just numbers alone, West Virginia ranked an average of No. 34 in the nation in total defense, and gave up just about 20 points per game in his nine seasons as defensive coordinator. Twice West Virginia was in the top 10 in total defense. And its worst year in terms of points allowed was this past season (26.7 ppg).
In three losses, West Virginia gave up an average of 44.7 points per game, though to be fair there were several non-offensive scores included in those totals. And down the stretch, West Virginia played its best defense of the season, with three defensive scores in its final four games.
Casteel has been about as solid as they come. And yet, most everybody could see this day coming. Although we all know Rich Rod is still the most hated man in the state of West Virginia, I don't see this move as Casteel turning his back on the Mountaineers or their fan base. He is a Rodriguez guy, and felt the time was right to make a move to perhaps position himself to become a head coach. Rodriguez was just going with familiarity in all his hires, and he was smart to do it.
He had some pretty excellent seasons in Morgantown with many of the men he brought back together.
West Virginia total defense under Casteel, NCAA rank
2003: No. 74
2004: No. 37
2005: No. 15
2006: No. 62
2007: No. 7
2008: No. 36
2009: No. 36
2010: No. 3
2011: No. 33