In recent months it has become common place for many WVU football blogs to compare Mountaineer Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and his win-loss record to those who have preceded him.
I have seen Holgorsen’s win-loss record, his bowl game record, and even the average national ranking compared to former WVU football coaches.
And what does all this mean, in reality it means little. Holgorsen was first hired as a Head Coach in waiting, but he didn’t have to wait long. He didn’t even have to wait a season. The WVU water around Holgorsen soon turned muddy, and within months he was elevated to Head Coach.
Holgorsen had to hire a new offensive coaching staff as the former coaching staff took off to follow former HC Rich Rodriguez. A year later the same happened with the defensive staff.
Being a Head Coach for the 1st time in his coaching career, Holgorsen made some big blunders with the new hires to his defensive staff. The defense was so bad, it couldn’t stop anyone’s passing game. Just look at the 70 to 63 win over Baylor. The morning following this game, I went to breakfast, and a WVU fan yelled out, “Did you hear the roar? Someone scored again.”
It has taken Holgorsen 4-years to put together a stable and quality coaching staff. In 2015, the defense will for the 1st time since Holgorsen arrived have the same Defensive Coordinator it had the previous year. This will add needed stability.
No other coach at WVU has had such turmoil. Holgorsen has not only had to deal with the coaching turnovers, but the wrath of the media and fans. Last season, many felt Holgorsen’s job was on the line. Some believe it is on the line this season.
You have to look at all that has happened since Holgorsen arrived, and let us not forget, WVU is now in the Big XII and not the Big East. WVU is now playing a much tougher schedule than it did as a member of the Big East.
Holgorsen’s road at WVU had been rocky, and not all of it by his own making. Upon his arrival at WVU, Holgorsen not only had to get an offensive coaching staff, but he had to improve recruiting. Recruiting was down before Holgorsen arrived. He also had to work for better facilities.
No former coach had to overcome so many obstacles in such a short period of time. However, on the upside, WVU fans have seen 3 players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Holgorsen arrived: LB Bruce Irving, WR Tavon Austin, and WR Kevin White. WVU fans have seen 1 QB and 4 WR taken in the NFL Draft.
Holgorsen has been asked to create not just a team that can win Big XII games, but to expand the WVU football market. And though his win-loss record may be lower, and his over national ranking may be lower, he is slowing expanding the marketability of WVU by developing players that are selected in the top rounds of the NFL draft.
The WVU market is growing, though not fast enough for some. But it takes time to build a team where top 5 and 4 star athletes want to come and play. You have to build a solid foundation first, and that is what I see Holgorsen doing. Do I agree with everything I’ve seen him do with players, and play calling? No, I don’t. Like most fans, I have questioned his decisions during games. Holgorsen has openly admitted he screwed up, but was so caught up in the game he made bad calls. And you know what? Every coach and every arm chair quarterback has done this. Thus, he is human and no different than the rest of us.
My view is this this for the 2015 season. This is basically a new group of players on the offense. Few of them have played in a game together. It will take a while for this offense to bond and mesh together, and this is why I see WVU having a 6 or 7 game winning season.
Going into 2016, WVU should will have an offense that has played a year together. With this offense and a well-seasoned defense, WVU should have its best year under Holgorsen. Holgorsen’s best seasons as head coach at WVU will come in 2016, 2017, and 2018. This is when both Holgorsen and the fans will enjoy the fruits of his labor. Holgorsen’s best years as a head coach lie ahead of him, and all he needs is the support of the University and fans.