The poorly kept secret that Oklahoma planned to hire West Virginia's Bill Bedenbaugh as its offensive line coach finally got some confirmation on the Mountaineers' side of the fence, as columnist Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette reported that a deal is now done.
Carely Murdock of SoonerScoop.com reported earlier in the week that OU intended to hire Bedenbaugh.
Many thanks to Patrick for his insights.
Blatant Homerism: General thoughts on Bedenbaugh's tenure and accomplishments at WVU? How big of a loss is this to the program?
Patrick Southern: It's a short tenure – Bedenbaugh came with Dana Holgorsen before the 2011 season – but it's safe to say he has made an impact in his time here. Offensive line play was probably the single most significant and most consistent problem West Virginia had when the late Bill Stewart was head coach. Most of the regular contributors along the offensive line in the last two seasons are the same guys who were in the mix in Stewart's last year as coach -- particularly the interior three of left guard Josh Jenkins, center Joey Madsen and right guard Jeff Braun – but they certainly played at a higher level under Bedenbaugh. Some of that is certainly due to his teaching, but some may be the result of Holgorsen's scheme as well. The ball gets out of the quarterback's hands pretty quickly in Dana's offense, and for whatever reason, it seems like the wider line splits you see in that Air Raid scheme suited these guys as well.
To sum it up, there is considerable respect for his ability as a teacher at his position and as a recruiter. It's hard to quantify how big of a loss this would be for WVU, but it doesn't seem likely anyone here would be happy to see him go.
BH: OU has really struggled to run the ball consistently in recent years. Any thoughts on how Bedenbaugh stacks up as a teacher in the running game?
Southern: Tough to tell. West Virginia hasn't exactly been a consistently strong running team in the two years Bedenbaugh has been here, but that may be the result of personnel issues at the running back position itself as much as anything else. West Virginia almost exclusively used two true freshmen (Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie) in 2011, then the team's primary back in 2012 (Shawne Alston) spent much of the season injured. Add that to what is already a pass-happy offense Dana Holgorsen runs anyway, and it's not much of a surprise the rushing numbers weren't especially lofty. But Oklahoma fans should be very much aware that WVU could run on occasion – Tavon Austin lit up the Sooners for 344 yards on the ground this season.
BH: Yeah, don't remind me. How about Bedenbaugh's chops as a recruiter? If you had to describe his style, what would it be? How do prospects respond to him?
Southern: Let me begin by saying up front that I'm not a recruiting expert or guru by any stretch, but Bedenbaugh was clearly effective for WVU. Most of his efforts were concentrated in relatively close geographic proximity to Morgantown – in this year's signing class alone, he plucked a pair of four-star recruits out of Ohio and did a solid job in New Jersey as well – but he obviously has ties in other areas from his time on the staff at Arizona. He also was the point man in the recruitment of an offensive lineman from Texas in this class. I can't speak for his "style" as a recruiter, but I'd imagine it's not far from his personality – direct, honest. Recruits can probably quickly tell he isn't the sort of guy who will try to sell them on something that's not there.
BH: Are there any particular players you would point to who Bedenbaugh helped develop?
Southern: I'd have to point to just about everyone on WVU's regular rotation from the last two seasons. West Virginia has rarely recruited highly-touted linemen, and offensive line recruiting in the final years of Stewart's tenure was largely ineffective. Joey Madsen had potential, but under Bedenbaugh, he became a consistently strong center – Holgorsen publicly said Madsen was the best center he had been around in his career. Jeff Braun had always been on the cusp of making a breakthrough, but he fulfilled his potential in the last two seasons. Josh Jenkins, a former five-star recruit, had an underwhelming beginning to his career, then was injured in 2011, but finished strong in 2012.
Simply put: Bedenbaugh is well-liked by his players and gets results.