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As contract negotiations break down uncertainty will remain

The reason(s) for Brian Mitchell’s departure has become more clear over the last few days. West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons has been quoted recently by the media stating, “Coordinators are multi-year and assistants are year-to-year. If you look at the national trend, that is very consistent.”

Mitchell was in the final year of his contract with WVU and was set to make $275,000 this coming season. Reports out of Blacksburg have indicated that Mitchell will sign a two year contract with the Hokies although details have yet to be finalized according Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock.

As a side note, assistant coaches at Virginia Tech have topped out at $260,000 per year. If Mitchell were to accept this same deal he would stand to take a $15,000 paycut but would be guaranteed at least one more year of employment. If this is the case it would only add to the speculation that things are not well in Morgantown.

Leaving a situation in which you are only guaranteed one more year for an offer that is guaranteeing two more years is just a smart business move.  However, that may only be one of the reasons Mitchell accepted the offer at Virginia Tech.

Shane Lyons told the Charleston-Gazette last night that, “There will be no change in Dana’s contract at this time.” Just a month ago when asked the same question Lyons response was much less forthcoming, “no comment.”

BGS had reported in the past that contract negotiations were underway between WVU and Holgorsen following the 2015 season. however, details of the negotiations were sketchy at best with some feeling the deal was close to being signed while others felt negotiations had reached an impasse.

It now appears the latter was correct. Holgorsen still has two years remaining on his current contract that was negotiated by then WVU AD Oliver Luck.

Who is to blame for the uncertain future at West Virginia? The answer is simple, neither Lyons nor Holgorsen. Lyons was handed a situation that quite frankly put WVU in a bind. With an enormous buyout and multiple years remaining on the contract Lyons was not in a position to fire the tenured head coach no matter the circumstances. The only viable option was to renegotiate the current contract.

For Holgorsen, renegotiating his current deal is a double edged sword. While a new deal would contractually bound him to the University past the 2017 season the guaranteed money he would receive would undoubtedly drop significantly all the while allowing WVU to part ways if the situation dictated.

While Mountaineers fans remain frustrated by the current state of the program it is clear that this is a business deal. Holgorsen will, and rightfully so, continue to do what is best for him. Lyons will continue to do what he feels is best for the University. And because of the contract negotiated by the prior WVU administration it has apparently led to a stalemate between the two sides.

At some point this will lead to negative recruiting against the Mountaineers. It will also lead to continued speculation regarding the future of Holgorsen at WVU. But as of now you can only chalk this up to an unfortunate business situation in which there may be no immediate answer.

To put all of this into perspective I remind you of these occurrences that have transpired since the end of the 2015 season; Official statement on Dana Holgorsen; WVU deleted “Holgorsen clause” from Gibson’s contract;

Jeremy Simon
Founder and publisher of, Jeremy is also a contributor to USA Today as well as covers the Mountaineers for Athlon Sports. Follow on Twitter @JSi07
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