There was no question Mountaineer fans were waiting for WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen to place the blame of the 44-24 loss to Oklahoma on the shoulders of Skyler Howard who ended the day with three interceptions. Even the line of questioning from the media in his post game press conference eluded to Howard potentially being the problem. However, Holgorsen stood firm, the blame fell squarely on his shoulders.
Before we go on let’s examine why this is a story. In August of 2013 Dana Holgorsen, coming off an epic collapse at the end of the 2012 season, insinuated there was a lack of leadership from seniors the prior year. Many took that statement as a jab toward then recently departed Geno Smith. Some in the media, especially CBS columnist Gregg Doyel, chastised Holgorsen for the comments.
As a result of that statement and the resulting media interpretation, Holgorsen was quickly tagged as a coach who would throw his players under the bus before taking blame himself.
Now fast forward to this past Saturday. While the sequence of play calling MAY have been an issue the fact remained that Skyler Howard simply had a bad game. It would have been easy for Holgorsen to say Howard make bad decisions or that he made bad throws. That would not have been an overstatement nor would it have been inaccurate. He could have also placed the blame on the defensive secondary for blown coverages.
However, Holgorsen immediately took the blame for all aspects of the game. Everyone knows that Dana was not under center, he did not make those throws, he did not play on the offensive line, and he did not bite on play fakes. Nevertheless he took the blame.
Without trying to sound condescending. Holgorsen has grown as a coach and a leader. Dana continued to take the brunt of the blame despite a line of questioning that could have easily enabled him to spread the responsibility. Instead he stated, “It comes down to their defense being better than me, I’m the one calling the plays”. Even when asked where he goes with Howard from here Holgorsen didn’t miss a step, “Just play like he’s played before, some of that stuff’s on me”, Holgorsen answered.
Whether Dana meant to blame leadership way back in 2013 is now irrelevant. Holgorsen left nothing for interpretation this past Saturday. Comments like those this past weekend are why he is liked by so many players, he is a leader and at least publicly will not give fans nor the media material to place the blame on anyone but himself, the signs of a true head coach.