Friday, February 15, 2013
Q&A: Who is OL coach Bill Bedenbaugh?
By Jake Trotter
Though Oklahoma has not officially announced it, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck confirmed to the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette that offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is leaving the Mountaineers to take the same position with the Sooners.
He's from that mold that fits Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen in that you'd better be good learners or you'll lose your spot to someone else who grasps what is, by all accounts, good teaching.
He's big on technique-through-repetitions, which makes practices the determining factors in his most important decisions. But he has a commanding presence. Big guy, booming voice and a way to make his point quickly. And really, if he has depth to work with, which he didn't have at WVU, watch out because that first point can take off quickly. It generates competition and improves results when you know the guy behind you can take your job.
2. There's been some talk about how he's a strong recruiter -- is that the case? If so, what makes him a strong recruiter?
Hard to say because this 2013 class was the first one this coaching staff got to sink into. The 2011 class was compromised because of the coaching change and the 2011 class had the Big 12/Big East mash-up and the Mountaineers couldn't fully flaunt the Orange Bowl.
This was different. The Big 12 and the Orange Bowl were big chips and he nabbed maybe the best player in Sheldon Gibson and perhaps the second-best-player in Darrien Howard and probably found the team's starting center for 2013, a junior college recruit named Stone Underwood -- so at least Bill can find aptly named athletes.
He's just got a personality guys like and that works well in a living room. If he wants, he can unroll a list of all-conference players, too.
3. Is there a particular region he excels in recruiting?
I think he'll be happy to be back in the Southwest again because he has some experience and some roots there. But he was making a mark in Ohio again and WVU had really lacked a presence there. He got three really good players from Ohio -- Gibson, Howard and a lineman he flipped from Miami University -- and that was something Holgorsen wanted to do. The Mountaineers aren't going to hang banners on the strength of Texas players. They re-upped efforts in surrounding states and Bill hit quick.
4. What about development? Have there been guys that have come in under the radar that he's developed into quality players?
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WVU's line was underwhelming and overachieved at the same time. The prior staff put this staff in a bad spot with some poor classes and signings, but Bill had no say in that. He instead turned Don Barclay into an All-America caliber player who starts for the Green Bay Packers. Joe Madsen is a center with really short arms who's going to get drafted. Jeff Braun was a so-so player before Bedenbaugh but he was a reliable right guard who could play center in the NFL. You can go on and on with this stuff.
But if you want answers, watch WVU's tape against LSU in 2011 and Clemson in the Orange Bowl and Texas this past season or any other time the Mountaineers were supposed to be overmatched -- they did very well in those games. They could get blasted from time to time, and Syracuse did a number on them the past two years, but I think if we're being honest, his lines played above the talent level and generally stayed above there. He just never got a chance here to coach his guys.
5. What are his overall strengths and weaknesses as a position coach?
His lines tend to play on a string. When they're at their best, they communicate things and work together in a five-as-one sort of way. That's cliche, but that's probably the goal of all good line coaches. He's just a good technique guy who understands how linemen have to function in this type of offense. And it's worth repeating -- he'll play the guys he trusts, which keeps the entire group gunning. If you're slipping up, know that Bill notices it and will absolutely play the next guy if he thinks that's the best idea. It seems to be that inspires a faith in his players that he's totally invested in everyone and everything.