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Bock: Despite Struggles, WVU Should Still Be Confident with Decision Looming



WVU AD Wren Baker and Josh Eilert

WVU Basketball is struggling under first-year interim head coach Josh Eilert. Eilert was put in a tough position from the beginning of last June, following the resignation of Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins. While Eilert has tried to make the most of it with denied waivers, suspensions and injuries, I think it’s safe to say WVU director of athletics Wren Baker will be looking for a new leader of Mountaineer basketball this spring.

On Wednesday, more pieces have moved around the college basketball world as Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann was let go mid-season. OSU now joins DePaul as the two Power-6 schools that will be searching for a head coach this spring. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel also commented on Juwan Howard’s job on Wednesday, stating that they haven’t thought about any changes “at this time” and leaving it at that for now.

Ohio State’s next hire will result in another Power-6 school getting into the mix. This year’s coaching carousel is looking like it’ll be college basketball’s Wild West. We’ve seen this before recently over on the football side once Nick Saban retired after the season. Alabama then took Washington’s Kalen DeBoer, which led to Arizona’s Jedd Fisch going to Washington, and then Arizona hired Brent Brennan from San Jose State.

Despite all of this, West Virginia and its fans should still remain confident in Baker’s decision moving forward with the basketball program.

WVU AD Wren Baker

Since June, WVU has remained the best unofficial job available. This past summer West Virginia tried a small sample size of a coaching search during a difficult time to ask a current coach to pack his bags and leave a program. Back in June, I mentioned promoting Eilert was the right decision, and I stand by that, despite the current 8-16 record. Based on the timing of Huggins’ resignation, it was right to give Eilert the opportunity without panicking and making a long-term decision Baker may have ended up regretting. By this time next month, West Virginia should have their chance again, and will then have an entire offseason to reload the roster for next year.

Some fans may feel a little worried about schools like Ohio State getting the first jump, but just relax. West Virginia will be on the higher end of the top jobs available when it actually becomes open. WVU has evolved into a quality job, thanks to a nice 20-year combined run from Huggins and John Beilein. West Virginia basketball has the facilities, fanbase, a history of success, the conference affiliation, recruiting region and NIL base to be an attraction to the majority of college coaches. I’m also very positive Baker has been keeping his ears open throughout the year for potential candidates, meaning WVU won’t be behind the preverbal 8-ball.

West Virginia can put themselves in a better position than last summer to make the right long-term hire, assuming they play their cards right. Baker can either go after an up-and-coming mid-major coach with an impressive resume or dabble into the coaches within the Power-6 that could become available. From there, Baker’s hire will have a full offseason to try to retain the players eligible for next season, including 2024 guard signee Carmelo Adkins, and dive right into the transfer portal.

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West Virginia still has about a month left of basketball to play; seven regular season games and a trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament. But before we know it, WVU will make a decision on Eilert and get the ball rolling on the future of the once-proud men’s basketball program.

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