The domino effect went into play when Louisville lost former head coach Bobby Petrino to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. The Cardinals hired Steve Kragthorpe as head coach, which vacated the head Tulsa job. Graham, a former high school coach from the city, was hired there, and called Hand to see if he would be interested in the job. Hand accepted Thursday after conferring with West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, who is in Hawaii to coach the Jan. 13 Hula Bowl.
It is an obvious move up in title for Hand, who served as an offensive graduate assistant at Clemson in 1999-2000, then began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Framingham (Mass.) High School in 1990. He was assistant head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan from 1991-93. From 1994-97, Hand served as defensive coordinator at Glenville State, and he was defensive and special teams coordinator at Concord College from 1997-99 before going to Clemson.
He was an original member of Rodriguez’s staff in 2001, and has always been the recruiting coordinator at WVU. No names have surfaced as to who would take over those duties in the key one month period before national signing day on Feb. 7. The Mountaineer staff is scheduled to have visits from recruits on Jan. 19, but the two slated for this weekend were cancelled when Rodriguez accepted the Hula Bowl position. West Virginia has not immediately said if it would hire a coach to combo the tight ends and recruiting again – an unlikely combination – or elevate one of its holdover staff members to the head recruiting slot. That will be settled once Rodriguez returns.
A 1990 Hamilton College graduate, Hand received a master’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1993. A native of Westmoreland, N.Y., he and his wife Debbie have three children, Trey, Bailey and Cade. Graham, the Conference USA Coach of the Year at Rice and a former Tulsa defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, will be announced Jan. 13 at a 2:20 p.m. Central news conference. It was unclear as to whether Hand would be announced at that time as well.