Since 2011, Dana Holgorsen has progressed and matured into a solid head football coach. Although his career record of 46-31 in six seasons (all at WVU) are not among the Nick Saban’s or Urban Meyer’s of the world he has done a fine job. In his first six seasons we have seen the good with two 10 win seasons and dominating Clemson 70-33 in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl. There has been the bad, when the team was ranked 5th nationally in the AP Top 25 in 2012 and lost five straight games to end the hype of a championship run to a disappointing season. We have also seen the ugly of the dreadful 4-8 campaign in 2013 where the defense looked abysmal. But looking at the big picture has Dana been quietly underrated?
My answer to you is absolutely, without question. You have to always keep in mind that we are not Alabama nor Ohio State nor Clemson nor USC. Why do I bring this up? Well those schools have the capability of going out and grabbing any four or five star talent in the country without making much of a recruiting pitch. History speaks and it shows when you walk into those schools trophy rooms. Not saying that West Virginia has not been a successful football program because it really has, but the reality is we lack a national championship, Heisman Trophy winner among other awards. Prior to Holgorsen, West Virginia struggled to get guys into the league at a consistent rate and have success in the NFL. Yes, there were many great former Mountaineers that played at the next level that were not coached by Dana but, he is consistently putting six to seven guys in the NFL nearly every year.
The disadvantage for the Mountaineers is in recruiting. It is going to be difficult to come in and sneak a recruit away from the more dominant teams across the country but you are starting to see it happen more and more often. Trying to convince a kid from Florida to come play in cold Morgantown and play in a conference where the closest team to you is 861 miles away (Iowa State) is hard to sell to a recruit. Yet, Dana continues to pull off his magic in the recruiting trail, he will also tend to go to the junior college route which has been a major success for him raking in NFL talent like Kevin White, Mark Glowinski, Mario Alford, Rasul Douglas and so on.
Holgorsen has seemed to be on the “hot seat” really ever since that collapse in 2012 and it seems to be stuck in our heads. It is time that we let Dana continue to grow as a young head coach, he is the right guy for this program and the sooner we realize it the better. Again, we are not Alabama we are going to lose some games here and there but Dana has this program trending upward. With the latest contract extension and the hiring of offensive coordinator Jake Spavital it should help Holgorsen feel that “hot seat” cool off significantly. Five to six years from now I would expect to see Dana take another step as a head coach and have this team as a contender for the Big 12 Championship every year. He has a defensive coordinator in Tony Gibson who looks to be a lifer which will help Dana build chemistry within his coaching staff and stability. Recruits get concerned when a school plays musical chairs with the assistant coaches because anything that was once promised to them is no longer there. I do not see that being an issue moving forward.
I have always been a Holgorsen guy and do I think he is Bear Bryant? No, but our fan base should feel comfortable with the direction of the team under his leadership. I understand, it is hard to be patient when we have never won a national title but it is what we have to do. Sit back, relax and enjoy the Mountaineers play some big time football this upcoming season as we are on the cusp of building something special in these mountains.