Head coaches are almost always judged on wins and losses. Having a lot of the former means you’re idolized while having too much of the latter can spell doom and an eventual firing. For Dana Holgorsen, having too many losses almost cost him his job prior to the 2016 season. After routing Clemson in the Orange bowl 70-33 in 2011, the Mountaineers posted a 26-25 record over the next four years. The whispers calling for Holgorsen’s job didn’t fall on deaf ears, apparently. In 2017, Holgorsen lead his squad to a 10-3 record and a berth in the Russell Athletic Bowl, securing a contract extension of five years worth $18.6 million.
Yet despite silencing the pundits for the time being, Holgorsen still has work to do.
West Virginia has gone 0-5 the past two seasons against ranked opponents. In fact, the Mountaineers have not been able to tally one win against a ranked team since the 2014 season when they knocked off then No. 4 Baylor in Morgantown 41-27. Even more alarming is that West Virginia has failed to even be competitive in four of those contests, losing by an average of 21 points per game. The lone game in which the Mountaineers held its own was the 26-33 overtime loss to then No. 21 ranked Oklahoma State in 2015.
Sooner rather than later, Holgorsen will be tasked with bucking this worrisome trend.
The first opportunity to do so comes in week one against No. 22 Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland on September 3rd. Along with the Hokies, the Mountaineers will also face No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 19 Kansas State, and No. 23 Texas in 2017.
West Virginia fans are a greedy bunch that rejects mediocrity. And despite a 10-win season and a promising contract extension, Holgorsen still has a lot to prove.