What a difference a year makes for Dana Holgorsen and his West Virginia University football team.
This time last season the team was finishing up a 4-8 season with back-to-back losses to Kansas and Iowa State, while getting embarrassed by Maryland and Baylor on national television.
Changes at WVU had to be made, and Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck wanted to see improvement in the 2014 team.
“What I certainly want to see,” Luck said, “and I think I’m speaking for a large portion of our fans – is improvement in our competitiveness, our ability to move the ball, our ability to stop the ball, all aspects of the game.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about improvement. I want to see us play harder, play meaner, play smarter and be more competitive.”Luck said.
Fast forward a year, and it looks like Luck has seen the improvement he was looking for.
With the win on Saturday, the Mountaineers finished the regular season at 7-5. They finished 5-4 in the Big 12 Conference, giving WVU its first winning record in Big 12 play.
WVU finished at 3-1 on the road in Big 12 play. That also marks a first for the Mountaineers.
Those records may not mean much to the casual fan, but it means something to Luck to released this statement earlier in the year.
“We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field,” Luck said. “Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.”
Now Holgorsen has the Mountaineers on the verge of what looks like a possible Liberty Bowl invite against Tennessee on December 29.
Like Holgorsen or not, he deserves credit for turning the program around and answering the bell. And yes, there are some who wanted to see Holgorsen fail and ran out of town.
Not only has he made progress, but the staff continues to recruit at a high level.
According to Rivals.com, West Virginia has the 18th ranked recruiting class, good enough for 2nd in the Big 12 Conference, just two spots behind Texas who is ranked 16th.
Last season, the Mountaineers recruiting class was ranked 45th according to Rivals.com.
Even though the team has improved, don’t expect the Holgorsen and Luck detractors to give them any credit for the turnaround this season.
Maybe it’s best that way because the ones that have been through the workouts and camps know the truth of the 2014 team.
And that improvement has the Mountaineers bowling in 2014.