Mountaineers in the Pros
Asti: Making the Case for Stedman Bailey or Ryan Switzer as WVU WR Coach
The rumors that West Virginia would be in the market for a new wide receivers coach are true. Tony Washington is headed to Liberty, vacating the role at WVU.
When a coach is either removed from a position or leaves for another job, it usually elicits two instant reactions in order. First, the conversation tends to be about why the coach is leaving and what impact it may have on the team. In Washington’s case, the receiver room did not take the step up as a whole he promised throughout the 2022 season and the 2023 roster will include an entirely different, and less experienced, group. He’s also now going to work under his friend Jamey Chadwell again. Chadwell left Coast Carolina to take over as head coach at Liberty to replace the departing Hugh Freeze. Washington served as wide receiver coach at Coastal before coming to Morgantown in February.
Washington’s WVU exit doesn’t come as a a shock and he is replaceable, but that brings up the next reaction most have after hearing about a team needing a new coach – who should the Mountaineers hire to teach a new crop of receivers? There are two names who are already being brought up as potential replacements of Washington. So let’s make each of their case.
Prior to the addition of Washington last offseason, former Mountaineer Stedman Bailey’s name was often mentioned as a candidate. This was even aided by the fact he is believed to be interested in coaching, especially at WVU. Bailey is a very popular former player, and one who was in college recent enough that the current players may be aware of and have watched do his thing. He would garner their respect.
While Bailey did not end up being able to enjoy NFL success, his opportunity was derailed by getting shot in 2015 only a couple years into his pro career after being drafted by the then St. Louis Rams. He could be a great asset to players, not only to learn from someone who had success on the field, but to look up to a man who has experienced the good and bad of the game and could offer life lessons about perseverance as well.
Bailey does not really have coaching experience, but wide receiver coaches are almost always former players. If Bailey is going to get back into football, this time as a coach, why not have it be back at the place he was a star? Having Bailey around would also harken back to one of the best teams in program history and be a living and breathing celebration of the past for a school desperately looking to get back to glory.
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Unlike Bailey, the other name that would make sense for WVU to consider does not have WVU ties, but he is connected to the state of West Virginia. Ryan Switzer, who volunteered to help at football camp before the 2022 season soon after announcing he was retiring from the NFL, could be a natural fit as a coach. Even though the Charleston native and West Virginia high school star was not recruited by WVU and never got to live out his childhood dream of becoming a Mountaineer, he spent his college time at North Carolina instead, he’s remained a fan of the team and seems to relish in a mentor role.
I normally don’t care about if the person has a West Virginia connection or not, but WVU should bring in Ryan Switzer as WR coach. No, he doesn’t really have coaching experience, but most WR coaches are former players first and he’s worked with team before.
— Mike J. Asti (@MikeAsti11) December 28, 2022
Switzer would be an example of someone who achieved an NFL career despite not having the most physically imposing physique. He did it due to hard work and dedicated. He knows how to teach the craft and has a maturity that players of today could do well learning from.
It’s unclear if Switzer has the desire for the job like Bailey does, although he has voiced an interest, but he very well might be the perfect fit.
Prior to any actual candidates are even known, it’s clear a choice of either Stedman Bailey or Ryan Switzer would be a popular one. It is possible WVU may want to find a new offensive coordinator before worrying about position coaches though.