West Virginia University athletic director Shane Lyons’ statement regarding Dana Holgorsen’s future at WVU seemed less of a reassurance and more of a palpable forced statement. While many have accepted the fact that Holgorsen will return in 2016, many are still puzzled at the talk surrounding a possible contract extension.
There are reasons an extension is a good move on Lyons’ part, though. Holgorsen’s current contract is nothing short of one-sided toward the head coach. It is now apparent that former AD Oliver Luck felt Holgorsen was the future of the program. There is no other explanation to rationalize a contract that forces the university to pay almost three times the amount to fire the coach as it would if he decided to leave. Holgorsen would have to pay WVU the sum of $2 million if he left without cause, i.e., take another job.
According to sources, the current negotiations are rumored to extend the years on Holgorsen’s contract while substantially lowering the buyout if the university decided to terminate the contract. Furthermore, the renegotiated contract may force Holgorsen to reassign, and possibly, terminate current assistant coaches on his staff.
Holgorsen not having an offensive coordinator on staff has been a sticking point to some Mountaineer faithful. The fact of the matter is, though, that even if Holgorsen were to hire an OC it would more than likely be in title only. Remember when Shannon Dawson left for Kentucky, Holgorsen made it clear that he still made the calls. The current staff consists of six defensive assistants and only three offensive assistants.
But here is where business comes into play. A renegotiation of his current contract would not exactly be in Holgorsen’s favor. It would slightly increase his base pay, which is near the bottom of the Big 12. But it would also give WVU an easier out were the university inclined to terminate the contract. Renegotiating a contract while being on the proverbial hot seat can never fare well for a coach. Holgorsen would be better inclined to hope for a more successful season in 2016 and only then come back to the table. As of now Holgorsen has lost much of his negotiating power after consecutive 7-5 regular seasons.
A contract extension could be beneficial to all involved, though. If Holgorsen is able to right the ship and show improvement over the next season or two, he is almost guaranteed employment with a higher salary. Consequently, if Holgorsen is unable to improve upon the last two seasons Lyons would be able to replace Holgorsen at a much lower cost.
A contract extension is much less of a gamble for West Virginia than it is Holgorsen. It could be a win-win situation for all involved but at the least it would be favorable to WVU.