Now that we have had a few days to digest the New Year’s Day corned beef and cabbage, as well as the recently completed WVU football season, here are a few questions that run through my mind concerning Mountaineer football.

1. Has the Mountaineers fan base lost some confidence in coach Dana Holgorsen?

It appears so. This time last year Dana was a genius and could do no wrong after hanging 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. What a difference a year makes. This year, it appears that Mountaineers fans are concerned about his ability to lead the program. There seemed to be a disconnect with the players. Whether that concern is justified or not, time will tell. Heck, our state lost confidence in Bobby Bowden after the 1974 season and he only went on to become one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.

2. Dana is a part of the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach coaching tree. Is that a good thing?

Well it isn’t like being a part of the Parcells, Belichick, Saban coaching tree.  Those are tough-minded, defensive coaches who have won multiple Super Bowls and national titles.  Mumme has been regarded as a “gimmick guy” who was fired at Kentucky, had some success at Southeastern Louisiana, then was fired again at New Mexico State. He is now coaching small college in Texas. Mumme also had NCAA issues at Kentucky. Leach made Texas Tech one of the more exciting programs in the country. But, he was eventually was fired in Lubbock. His first year at Washington State was fairly stormy also.

3. Philosophically, are the Mountaineers set up to be tough enough defensively to compete in the Big 12?

The knock you hear against teams coached by spread coaches are that they do not get enough “shock” or physical hitting and toughness in practice to have a tough enough defensive mindset to compete.West Virginia certainly got smacked in the mouth many times against Syracuse. It does not appear that the head coach spends much time with the defensive staff or personnel.  Right or wrong, the perception is that there is a disconnect there.

4.  Can the Mountaineers compete in the Big 12?

Based on this year, it is not going to be easy. Most of the media, myself included, thought this would be a big year for West Virgnia in their new home, so what do we know? We are learning, however, and it is clear that the Big 12 won’t necessarily come back to WVU, the Mountaineers will have to go up to the league. Without Geno, Tavon, Bailey and some veteran offensive linemen, it will be a challenge next season.

5.  Do Mountaineer fans have the stomach to be mediocre in the Big 12?

I don’t know. Fans here are used to winning in football now. I’m also not sure they have the wallets to do it. WVU is trying to raise money by re-seating facilities and increasing contributions for seats. When fans give more they expect more wins, not less. When fans give more money, they also expect to give you their “two cents”. Right now, they are grumbling.

6. How is recruiting going?

It appears to be OK, but just OK. West Virginia has never made a living on “five-star, blue chip” recruits. Historically, under Don Nehlen, they competed by sound, fundamental football with overachieving players that developed within the program. Will players develop during their time in Morgantown? Time will tell.

 

 

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Comments

  • 1oleWVUfan

    Frank, these are some very good questions.

    But lets go back a little. One of the flaws with the WVU Football Team began under Coach Rich Rod, and that was Special Teams. When WVU lost to LSU in Louisiana, it was Special Team play or the lack thereof, that costed WVU the game. We saw the same when WVU and Coach Holg lost to WVU at home in 2011. Kick-off and Punt Returns lost both of those games.

    WVU had been know for a running team until 2011 and it wasn't any better in 2012. The commonality here is that WVU only utilized one big running back, and none of the other 6 big RBs got a chance to get on the field to show the coaches and fans what they could or couldn't do. Also, in 2011 and 2012 the OL couldn't run block.

    In 2012, the Defense was horrendous, and most of the defensive issues was WVU's DB couldn't defend the deep pass.

    With 2013 here, and Signing Day quickly approaching, we are seeing WVU trying to implement a Quck Fix approach by going after several JUCO players, and while I'm not certain, I believe part of the reason for this, is that WVU doesn't have the appeal it once had to 5 and 4 Star Recruits, due to the 2012 Season, and the fact that WVU is searching for coaches. Also, in 2011 and 2012 with Shawne Alston out hurt none of the other bigger RBs was given a chance on the field to see if they could run the ball.

    The only upside to WVU in 2012 was its passing game, and Tevon Austin who could do it all, and of couse Geno and Stedman.

    If you look at 2012, WVU had no defense, had no kicking game, and couldn't run the ball, and in my opinion, made to attempt to try to run the ball, for none of the other larger RBs were given a chance, and the OL couldn't run block.

    I'm surprised that only 2-coaches have been let go. Dawson should have given the other bigger backs opportunities to see what they can do during a game, this was we fans can say he at least tried. And with the OL for 2-Season not being able to run block, what does this say about Coach Bedenbaugh.

    WVU needs help in a lot of areas, and this just doesn't mean players, but also coaches. And right now, I don't see WVU being a program that will attract players or coaches, for it was such a program then WVU would have more 4 & 5 Star recruits signing-up and wouldn't have to be going after JUCO players.

  • Phil M.

    I know there are those out there that will think I'm crazy but did it ever occur to someone in Morgantown to have Don Nehlen talk to some of these guys about playing defense. He did it with Dunlap as his DC and played a pretty tough schedule, Miami, Penn State, Pitt, BC, VA Tech, Oklahoma, etc.

  • Phil M.

    Hey KeithJS is was there when we ran off Bowden. I had to suffer through the Cignetti years. This is far from the worse football we've had at WVU..... Class of 77

  • Phil M.

    What it may come to with the football team is Luck stepping in and saying this is the guy who is going to build our defense at WVU. Dana you have a great mind for offense but this is the guy who is going to lead us on the defensive side of the ball. Unless Holgorsen can realize this for himself and cut ties with some of his buddies. It's his career and reputation that will be muddied if he doesn't put his business hat on. If that's the problem. I'm a fan on the outside looking in. It may all work out fine, at least I hope it does. I love the Mountaineers... Class of 77.

  • KeithJS

    Wanted to share this. Interesting stuff.
    WVU's overall won/loss record. Puts some perspective on present situation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_West_Virginia_Mountaineers_football_seasons

  • KeithJS

    When people say they have followed WVU for many years and this is the worst situation ever. I think, "Really?". In the 40 or so years I have followed them I can only remember two legitimate shots at a National Championship. A Major Harris led team and a Pat White led team. Only one of those made it to the big game. So along with some years strung together with competitive teams there a are lots of years with mediocre to poor teams. The team that Dana took over had a decent defense and a hand full of really good offensive players. They finished the regular season 9 and 3. Not bad but there were a couple of terrible losses along the way. There was little depth on that squad especially on defense. A lot of scholarships were not awarded under the previous staff. We joined what many consider the second toughest conference and the rubber met the road. This had been predicted by the coach and the AD.
    But the media hype overruled common sense. Mr. Luck will not let a bad situation continue for long. A quote from OL to WVGazzette.com, "Clearly, though, we need to do some work defensively. It's something Dana and I have talked about and I'm confident we'll get the right defensive staff together. We'll understand better what's expected in Year Two." Sounds like he is involved.

    I think it will be similar to the basketball team when they joined the BE. Stiffer competition made the program stronger. The B12 will get us to a higher level in football.

  • Forrest D. Poston

    Not everyone thought Holgorsen was good last year. He wasn't. And what most people ignore is that the defense was at least as much responsible for those Orange Bowl points as the offense was. Remember that it all began with the defense knocking the ball away when Clemson was about to take the lead. Tough defense gave the O a short field frequently after that, and it was the D that really broke Clemson's spirit.

    And while people keep blaming the defense this year, remember that the O got stuffed in several games, pretty much always by an aggressive defense. Holgorsen never showed a trace of a learning curve, and two years is way more than enough time for that.

    And to the person who said Stewart's recruits were awful, I saw, Smith, Bailey, Austin, etc. Stewart was actually carefully reconstructing a team that was left with serious gaps by the uneven recruiting under Rodriguez.

    I really wish people would take time to actually examine situations rather than making absurd statements based on what doesn't even qualify as a superficial thought level.

    WVU football will never do consistently well under Holgorsen given that he has clearly shown he won't learn. I seriously doubt that the programs will flourish as long as "Money First" Luck is AD. I suspect we need someone free of Kendrick's influence.

    Forrest D. Poston

  • Motown Man

    Something happened between the players and the coaching staff after the Texas Tech game. WVU has been backsliding ever since.

    • Tracy

      I completely agree! The football team had that huge win against Texas and then it seemed like the team imploded - landslide losses, players leaving, etc.

  • ken barker

    I have followed wv for over 50 years and they will never have continual successful years until they bring in better recruits. Players who want to win for the team and not there to show boat.
    Makes me sick to see a player get up and strut because he did the job he was supposed to do.
    Make the play and get back on defense or in the huddle. Knock this crap off. It is just not wv but man other teams do this.This year the team got cocky and that cost them a great season. It will be at least two years before we have any chance to be a good team again, and that will depend on recruiting and get kids who can remember their plays and OH YES, stop making dumb mistakes.

  • Todd

    The bottomline, until Dana Holgorsen develops the skills as a head coach to bring the best out of his players the Mountaineers are not going to improve. Secondly, when Holgorsen begins to show interest in defense...relying on offense to have a shootout each and every game doesn't go that far and leaves us very one dimensional.

  • george

    You dont have 2 all americans and have this kind of season.period.

  • Michael

    You are all gutless and heartless. Remember, we are West By God Virginia. So we had a down year. In about eight months I will back in Morgantown to watch my team. Who else will be there? It is 2013...last year is over. Move forward. Let me here it true fans!

  • Mike

    Wow, I feel like our defense was the story that stole the show and that is it... Dana is a great Offensive mind and he is a new head coach, that took us from Big East too the Big 12 and that wasn't easy; I would say he did a good job. NO! I didn't like the lumps we took this year but we didn't get the bounces this year and we had a lot of distractions. Dana has made changes with his coaches and we will be a better team next year!!!! We will run the ball better & pick up more first downs, the defense will be in the top 50 to 70 in the country in total defense , we will win 8 to 10 games!!!! Let's Goooooo!!!! Mountaineeeeeeeers!!!!!!

  • Thom

    I have lost all faith in Dana Holgorsen. Let's be honest, he doesn't have the best character traits himself. The bar incident in Charleston was the beginning and end for me. It showed poor judgement and a weak character. Whether you like it or not, a head coach MUST be a moral leader. He is not a Mountaineer. Has no idea what it means to be a West Virginian. Has no idea why the band is called the "Pride of West Virginia." I know that he recently was give a mulit-year extension. This spells disaster for the Mountaineers for many years to come. We cannot and will not compete in the Big 12 under this coach and staff. Clean house, admit you made a mistake and move on. And hire a loyal Mountaineer who will wear the blue and old gold.
    I am a loyal Mountaineer, a graduate of WVU, and a loyal contributor to the scholarship program

  • Jethro

    Holgerson is a one trick pony. Once the opposing coaches figure him out he is done. They figured it out after the fifth game. I figure holgerson has 2 more years here and he is gone.