MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Former West Virginia Mountaineer football head coach, Dana Holgorsen, announced this past January that he was leaving Morgantown to accept an offer to become the new head coach at the University of Houston.
The question as to why Holgorsen decided to leave Morgantown still looms around in the air to this very day. He claims that his decision had absolutely nothing to do with making more money. Although one can dispute that claim without hesitation, he may very well be telling the truth.
Let’s think about it: Compared to the Big 12 Conference, Houston happens to play in a far less competitive conference, the American Atlantic Conference; Holgorsen can indeed allude to winning more games in such a less competitive conference. The university also gives an enormous amount of funding to its football program; in 2015, the University of Houston transferred over $100 million from its academic programs to its athletic programs, especially the football program. Not to mention, the city of Houston is loaded with high-level talent, as well.
The question is, however, can Holgorsen compete with the other universities located in the state of Texas such as the University of Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, or even Texas A&M? If you take into consideration his stint at WVU, the answer is quite evident: No.
Holgorsen failed miserably to reach the expectations set for him.
A potential reason as to why Holgorsen fled Morgantown: maybe his “welcome at WVU was wearing out.” Or, another plausible reason: He wasn’t “going to get high school kids at West Virginia” that he was “going to win the Big 12 with.” All of those words came out of his mouth. However, that’s very far from the actual truth.
The truth is this: Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, K.J. Dillon, Nick Kwiatkoski, Karl Joseph, Wendell Smallwood, Mario Alford, Kevin White, Daryl Worley, Shelton Gibson, Kyzir White, David Sills, Clint Trickett, William Crest, and Will Grier, one of the best QB’s in WVU history, all played under Dana Holgorsen. All of these players either got drafted or signed by an NFL team.
It’s blatant that Holgorsen did get tremendously talented players at WVU. Smith, Austin, and Bailey didn’t cause the Mountaineers to lose three games due to a lack of individual talent in 2011; a lack of coaching ability in late-game situations did. Grier and Sills didn’t cause the squad to lose to a below-average Iowa State team, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, or Syracuse during last season; a lack of coaching and interest from their head coach caused the losses. Rather than blaming the players, Holgorsen needs to put his ego on the shelf and analyze himself and his brutal coaching.
All in all, Holgorsen left behind a legacy of mere failure after eight unsuccessful seasons at the helm of the Mountaineers’ program. When he arrived in Morgantown, everyone knew who Holgorsen was: An offensive genius. As the 2012 season played out, though, slowly but surely, Holgorsen learned that offensive shootouts each week wasn’t the correct formula to winning games or being successful; that running the same play perpetually, passing the ball deep on a third-down with three yards to go, and not caring about the defensive performance wasn’t a successful formula.
In addition to what Holgorsen learned, the college football world learned one critical matter: Never hire an offensive coordinator who once broke records with Case Keenum, a stud quarterback, in the C-USA as the new head coach of your high-level program that’s about to enter a power five conference.
The Mountaineer fanbase learned one vital thing: Don’t ever get too excited when an offensive coordinator gets hired as the new head coach of the program; a guy who accepted former WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck’s job offer to escape the shadows of Kevin Sumlin and Mike Gundy.
Dana Holgorsen’s “welcome at WVU was wearing out,” and that’s a valid case to pack your bags and leave. However, his claim that he “wasn’t going to get high school kids at West Virginia that he was going to win the Big 12 with” is a trifling fallacy. On the big stage, Holgorsen fell very short. Since the 2011 football season, he learned a lot about himself and his coaching and West Virginia learned a lot about putting trust in an offensive coordinator with no head coaching experience.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose