Following Tuesday’s 30-14 bowl loss to Utah, Mountaineer social media had a meltdown and has yet to really cool off. So here we go once again, head into another off season where fans want head coach Dana Holgorsen either fired or on the hot seat. Much of the fan base considered the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl an “irrelevant” bowl game, so if it was not important, why should it determine the fate of the head coach? For some reason we forget about the 1994 Sugar Bowl which was arguably a worse performance than this years bowl. This is not unfamiliar territory, as it seems we were just here two years ago. Firing Holgorsen is possibly the biggest mistake the administration could make. And here’s why:
West Virginia has never been a blue-blood football program, no matter how much the fan base likes to think otherwise. It has always struggled in bowl games and against ranked opponents, but has also won its fair share of games. Fans are quick to say that Holgorsen is “mediocre”, but if that is the case then isn’t everyone who coached here just…mediocre? The biggest harp on Holgorsen is his record vs ranked opponents, which is under .500, but so is the other top two coaches in West Virginia history. Here is how the top 3 coaches stand vs ranked teams:
Rich Rodriguez 12-14 (.461 W%)
Dana Holgorsen 8-19 (.296 W%)
Don Nehlen 14-38-2 (.259 W%)
As far as bowl records go?
Rich Rodriguez 2-3 (.400 W%)
Dana Holgorsen 2-4 (.333 W%)
Don Nehlen 4-9 (.307 W%)
So why is it that Dana Holgorsen is getting so much heat from the fan base? He has been either just as successful as his predecessors. I’ve also seen many say that he inherited a great team when he came to Morgantown, which I would disagree with. Yes, he did have Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but that was mainly the entire show. West Virginia did not field a team with its full amount of scholarships. Most of the 2nd team and 3rd team were full of walkons. Not to mention he had to transition from the Big East to the Big 12. There is a major difference in the level of competition between the two and to carry a team into that conference with no depth will not end well. How much time will it take for him to put together a team that can contend consistently? Well that is to be seen, but I can assure you that by firing him and hiring a new coach will take longer. Something you also have to consider is paying Holgorsen’s buyout plus hiring a new coach while putting a lot of money to renovate your facilities, it’s just not a good mix.
Essentially, Holgorsen is having to completely rebuild this program from scratch. Moving to a Power 5 conference again is a whole other animal. Fans will often mistake facts for excuses and it is the truth. If you looked at what the Mountaineers had coming back this year compared to the rest of the league, mixed in with the tougher conference games on the road you would not have as high of expectations. This team is extremely young and inexperienced. After you lose 7-8 starters on your defense in three consecutive seasons it is going to catch up to you. The team was picked to finish 7th in the Big XII preseason poll and tied for fourth in the league.
The last point I want to make is about the struggle vs Oklahoma. Yes, Holgorsen and the Mountaineers have yet to beat the Sooners since joining the conference, but it will happen eventually. It is silly to fire a coach for struggling against one team, especially when the school administrators let it happen with Nehlen vs Penn State and Rich Rod against South Florida. Nehlen finished 2-11 against Penn State with quite a bit of blowouts. Did I mention that Nehlen also had 3 seasons with a 4-7 record and 4 losing seasons?
It sounds as if I have something against Nehlen, which I don’t. I love Nehlen and absolutely respect him for everything he did for the program. I am putting things into perspective for the fan base who do not think logically. Holgorsen is no different than Nehlen or Rodriguez when you look at the overall resume, again, Holgorsen is having to build this program back up.
Holgorsen is the guy get over it, everyone loved him when he won 10 games last year and are quick to turn on him. IT will be a huge mistake to fire him, be patient, something special is building.