(Reprinted from BlueGoldSports.com)
By Michael Walker
The West Virginia University fans and donors have been waiting not so patiently for a return to top 10 for WVU since the departure of Rich Rodriguez in late 2007. Most feel that eight years is long enough for the team to find their way back to the ‘glory days’ of 2005-2007.
During the years of Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt, WVU was a perennial member of the top 10 rankings. That is the definition of a top 10 program. With the departure of those three talented players and Coach Rodriguez came the Stewart years.
While still maintaining a top 25 profile, the Mountaineers could not get past 9-3. At the time, the fans and administration considered that a regression down to mediocrity.
With the hiring of Athletic Director Oliver Luck in the spring of 2010, there was an expectation of a return to national prominence. Luck hired Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to the same position at WVU in 2010, with an expected transition to head coach.
Holgorsen became the WVU head coach in June of 2011, and compiled a record of 10-3 including a beat down of Clemson in the Orange Bowl by 70-33. It appeared that the Mountaineers savior had been found.
Then came the demise of the Big East and the Mountaineers move to the Big 12. The move to a stronger conference was accompanied by a serious lack of quality depth with diminished scholarship numbers.
Exacerbating the situation was a revolving door of assistant coaches as well as a head coach just learning to fulfill the role. The Big 12 is a tough place to go from experienced and successful offensive coordinator to head coach.
Coach Holgorsen and the team took their lumps in 2012 with a record of 7-6 and a humiliation in the Pinstripe Bowl by old nemesis Syracuse 38-14. A faltering Mountaineer team decimated by injuries on defense did not seem to want to be there.
2013 turned out to be a disaster for WVU, as three different starting quarterbacks were plagued with injuries or ineptness. But behind the scenes things were building for the future. A total of 15 freshmen saw playing time in 2013 due to injuries, and recruiting was on the upswing.
The Mountaineers entered 2014 as a true unknown, with expectations ranging from a low of a 4-8 record to a high of 8-4. I was one of the 8-4 prognosticators. ……..
To read the full article for free, got to BlueGoldSports.com