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Elmassian's resignation wasn't unexpected

MORGANTOWN -- Phil Elmassian's resignation as defensive coordinator of West Virginia University's football team was not unexpected.

Rumors had been swirling for weeks that Elmassian would be asked to leave following the Mountaineers' 3-8 season under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

Not because of how his defense performed on the field, but because of his in-your-face coaching style which to some people at WVU borderlined a verbally abusive state.

According to one source, WVU defensive players abhorred Elmassian and even some of the other assistants weren't enamored with him. It's hard to get players to play hard when their constantly being put down for their efforts.

That apparently was his biggest drawback.

Covering WVU the entire season, I felt the new defense showed much promise. I liked the attacking style of play and felt the Mountaineers were close to jelling into a good defensive unit. It will be interesting to see if WVU continues to play that defense next season under a new coordinator, or if another change is in store.

Rumors have it that Wake Forest defensive coordinator Dean Hood, who served under Rodriguez at Glenville State, is interested in the position.

Hood had served with current Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe at Ohio University before moving with him to the Atlantic Coast Conference school. The Demon Deacons were much more competitive this season than they have been in several years.

It's highly unlikely anyone on the current inexperienced staff will take over the duties, so Hood would seem to be a viable candidate at this point.

n n n

Switching to basketball, anyone that's watched WVU play this season realizes the team has the potential to accomplish quite a few goals.

While Gale Catlett has put together a talented and deep team, the Mountaineers are still in need of a consistent five (center) man.

Senior John Oliver is aggressive, knows what to do and has improved his skill level significantly since entering the program. He has the size (240 pounds) but is only 6-foot-7.

Junior college transfer Chaz Briggs has been given some time at the spot and has shown some promise. He has long arms, jumps well and is by far quicker than any of the other candidates. He's listed a 6-7 and 210 pounds, but looks closer to 6-6 and 195 pounds, hardly big enough to go against the behemoths of the Big East.

At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, sophomore Chris Garnett has the size needed to bang with the physical centers of the Big East. But he entered Catlett's doghouse before the first game was played by breaking team rules. He did log nine minutes last Saturday against Florida International and appears to be getting better.

So far, WVU is getting by without any consistent play at the spot.

But in order to take some pressure off power forward Chris Moss, one of these three will have to step up his level of play.

The likes of Arkansas-Monticello, FIU and Robert Morris will soon be replaced by such cage powers as Tennessee, Arizona, Georgetown and Syracuse.

It's imperative the position becomes stabilized before Big East play begins.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com

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