West Virginia Football: Why Ron Crook Is a Perfect Fit for O-Line Coach Vacancy
Though the West Virginia football program is yet to officially announce that it has filled the offensive line coach vacancy, the perfect candidate may have been found in Stanford's Ron Crook.
Former offensive line boss Bill Bedenbaugh officially left the Mountaineers and joined the staff at Oklahoma last week (via SoonerSports.com), which obviously left an opening on the WVU staff.
And as the Mountaineers lost one offensive line coach to one powerhouse program, it appears as though they may have picked up a replacement from another program that has produced stars up front.
Mitch Vingle of The Charleston Gazette tweeted his confirmation that Crook will be brought on as West Virginia's new offensive line coach.
I've confirmed. Stanford's Ron Crook will be WVU's new offensive line coach.— Mitch Vingle (@MitchVingle) February 21, 2013
After the departure of Bedenbaugh, FootballScoop reported that the Mountaineers had reached out to Herb Hand of Vanderbilt, only to be turned down. Hand, a member of the Rich Rodriguez staff at WVU, is a logical first choice, especially considering the program's other coaching additions this offseason to pick up former Mountaineer assistants Tony Gibson and Lonnie Galloway.
However, after the Hand option didn't pan out, days passed without the circulation of any rumors regarding possible candidates.
Then, on Thursday, the rumblings began surrounding Crook. By mid-afternoon, Vingle and others had confirmed the addition.
So if Crook is indeed the man, the natural question arises: Who is Ron Crook?
A Parkersburg, W.Va. native, Crook played and began his coaching career at West Liberty State near Wheeling. Since, he has had coaching stints at Cincinnati, Illinois, Harvard and Stanford most recently.
As the offensive line coach at Harvard, Crook's group paved the way for Crimson running back Clifton Dawson, who finished his career as the all-time leading rusher in Ivy League history. Also during his tenure in Cambridge, Crook coached All-American tackle James Williams and numerous All-Ivy League linemen.
Crook could make a great positive impact on the West Virginia pass blocking, as well. His line protected current Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at Harvard and Heisman Trophy finalist Andrew Luck at Stanford.
Of course, Crook's legacy at Stanford doesn't end at Luck. While serving as the coach of tight ends and offensive tackles for the past two seasons, he led a trio of tight ends into stardom: Coby Fleener (currently with Luck and the Indianapolis Colts), along with Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.
Geoff Coyle of WV Illustrated caught up with Ertz and Toilolo in Indianapolis on Thursday as the duo prepared for the NFL combine. Both had a lot to say about Crook, his accomplishments and how much he'll add to the WVU program.
"If he gets the job at West Virginia, they're going to have a hell of an offensive line coach," Ertz told Coyle. "Ron Crook's a great coach. I can't say enough good things about Coach Crook. He demands the most out of his players, he demands respect and I think that goes a long way in the game."
"I've been able to be coached by him the past two years sand I think the way he approaches the game on and off the field, just as the person he is and the knowledge he has, he'll be very successful and they'll be lucky to have him," Toilolo told Coyle.
Any coach that is loved this much by his players has to be considered a great addition. Ertz also went on to highlight the fact that Crook worked with All-American tackles David Yankey and Jonathan Martin.
In 2011, Martin led a group that allowed just 11 sacks—ranking them No. 7 in the nation. That 2011 Cardinal team also finished among the top 25 offenses in both passing and rushing and No. 7 in scoring.
In the end, Crook brings more than just experience and a great track record to WVU. When Bedenbaugh left for OU, he cited family—specifically his wife, who is an Oklahoma native—as a reason for his decision.
Crook, a West Virginia native, should be happy back in the Mountain State.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen has been looking to maintain some stability among the program and his staff. Crook should bring exactly that to a staff that will now be adding its fourth new member of this offseason.
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