John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury has steered the Red Raiders to a 6-0 start and a No. 16 ranking in the AP poll.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Their not-so-long ago stint as coaching roommates at the University of Houston built upon their previous coach-player relationship at Texas Tech, yet Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury aren’t engaging in yesteryear buddy chronicles as their programs prepare to face off this week.

Both have pressure-loaded public missions that override nostalgia and subjugate friendship. Holgorsen is attempting to keep West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) out of a tailspin, while Kingsbury is aiming to keep No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0) on its unbeaten course to the league title.

Besides, with Holgorsen having coached a combined nine seasons in Lubbock, Texas, and Stillwater, Okla., seemingly every week in the Big 12 brings an opportunity for some sort of reunion.

“We worry about our own teams … so the sentimental side, the personal side, typically doesn’t exist,” Holgorsen said. “Every time you play against guys that you like, you wish them a lot of luck in every game other than one.”

Holgorsen typically is reluctant to delve too deeply into personal relationships, sticking primarily to his football talking points. Kingsbury has shown a similar knack for being respectful and not very revealing, though he described his ties to Holgorsen as “very close” based on their overlapping careers.

“He’s the one who got me a job at the University of Houston,” Kingsbury said. “Obviously, we don’t talk as much now that we’re in the same conference. But I have a ton of respect for him and I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for him.”

GAMBLING ON KINGSBURY
Last December, Tommy Tuberville curiously left Lubbock for Cincinnati—a sub-lateral move that stung even the Red Raiders fans who never fully embraced Tuberville. To fill the void, Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt needed less than 72 hours to find the anti-Tuberville, making the 33-year-old Kingsbury the second-youngest coach in the FBS.

Despite the reverence Kingsbury built as a record-setting Red Raiders quarterback, he returned to campus with only four years of on-the-field coaching experience. It didn’t hurt that the most recent of those years involved coaching Heisman winner Johnny Manziel during a one-and-done stint at Texas A&M, yet his rapid promotion to head coach was in many ways a gamble.

Through six games, Klingsbury’s hiring looks unquestionably astute.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy, a tremendous amount of excitement  that’s surrounding the program,” Holgorsen said. “I’m not surprised he was able to get it going there in a short amount of time.”

While Texas Tech’s fast start has come at the expense of a rather puny schedule—its opponents sport a combined record of 12-21—give Kingsbury and his staff credit for stringing together wins despite the kind of quarterback injuries that would cripple many teams. Yet, Texas Tech has produced three high-performers, and it seems almost inconsequential as to whether it will be Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb or Michael Brewer taking snaps this weekend against West Virginia.

MOUNTAINEERS UNEVEN
While Kingsbury has quickly become the toast of Tech, Holgorsen’s program languishes in a 5-9 streak that includes six blowout losses—a disappointing stretch that inevitably fuels disgruntled fans. WVU’s coach said he understands the chirping, especially when the Mountaineers are good enough one week to upset then-No. 11 Oklahoma State yet suffer losses like 37-0 at Maryland and 73-42 at Baylor.

“You try to get your guys ready to win, and when that doesn’t happen it’s a huge letdown,” he said. “We’ve been as high and low as it can possibly get. So we need to get it a level of consistency.”

Given a bye week to recover from the obliteration at Baylor, WVU now prepares to face its fourth ranked opponent of the season.

“That’s what’s great about the Big 12,” Holgorsen said. “If you weren’t successful the previous time when you played a quality opponent, well good news—you get to line up and play another good one the next week.”

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Comments

  • Kevin

    WVU FAN I can do whatever I want. I still don't like Dana but I am still a fan. I will watch the games on TV but I will not buy season tickets next year with Dana as the HC.

  • TxTchRR

    Toughest game for us yet, but If the players aren't looking ahead to OU, I think we can beat y'all. Then again, in a hostile environment with 2 true freshman QBs is a tall task for any team. The thing that will even that out for us is that our defense is neck and neck with TCU for the best in the conference from what I've seen.

    Prediction:

    35-21 Tech.

  • Don

    A little something about the coaching staff. Va Tech had the identical record as WV last year. Currently, they are 6-1 ranked #19 in the country. Only difference I see is the coaching staff! And no, I am certainly not a VT fan.

  • Bim

    WVU by 3 points this Saturday. The defense will win the game for us.

  • Bim

    Babcock is coming to replace Luck when he goes to Texas. Luck is taking Holgy and staff with him, Mack Brown will be out. Babcock and Rich Rod are great friends and he will come back as the head coach forever !

  • WVU FAN

    I'am going to bet that both coaches are going to wear shoes....What do ya say Larry or we on the same page or what?

    Kevin, I thought you said that you are not a WVU while Dana is the head coach? Now go away and let WVU fans talk...bye bye!!!

    WVU will be better against TTU, good enough to win , well we will see.... LET'S GOOOOOOOOO!! MOUNTAINEEEEEEEEEEERS!!!!!!

    or LET'S GOOOOOOOO!!! EEEEEEEERS!!!!

  • Big Larry

    And I care what color shirt they wear!!
    They should he wearing a tye dye tweety bird shirt......like me.
    Size 9xL.

  • Big Larry

    I'll have me some Kinsberry pie!!!!!

  • Scott

    Who cares what freaking color the shirt Coach Holgorsen wears??? All of the coaches on all of sports coaching staffs have black shirts now. Black is now part of our apparel color scheme. It's a shirt!!! It doesn't mean he isn't a Mountaineer. As Cris Carter would say...."Come on Man!"

  • Dougie

    I hope the eers can pull this one out, but even if they don't we still have a good chance to make a bowl in a rebuilding year. Hang in there true fans and don't let the MU boys, (William & Big Larry) put negative thoughts in your heads... That's their only joy in life as MU fans is to bring WVU down.

  • brown

    I will say that coaching up young men is a challenge. I have coached in the secondary ranks which in no way ranks with division one but, to get 22 to 40 different kids ready for game day is a task. I think the bye week was well deserved to get some of our kids healthy both physically as well as mentally. I look for an upset in Morgantown this weekend! WVU - 38, TT - 28. GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!

  • Kevin

    Guys I am a true WVU fan.. But this coaching staff can't make any adjustments during the game. They will come out fired up but they will get beat by 14.

  • CBP

    Here's a little stat for all you Holgorsen Haters. Against Top 25 Teams: Bowden 1-6, Cignetti 1-9, Nehlen 14-42-2, Rich Rod 11-14, Holgorsen 5-4. You all need to get a life and realize for 1000th time, WVU is not Bama, not Michigan, not FSU, not USC and we no longer play in the Big Least. The Big 12 is a completely different animal week in and week out. The years of 9-3, 8-2 every year are extremely unrealistic given our brand and recruiting footprint when compared to other Big 12 giants. Face the Facts.

    • wes2003

      How many of those teams ended the season ranked? I know Texas didn't. I'm pretty sure Baylor was #25 when we played last year, but they also didn't end the season ranked.

      Two of those 5 came against ranked Big East teams. Do those count? We all downgrade our old conference and then use wins by DH against that conference to prove his worth. It doesn't make sense.

    • Rick S.

      You have some good facts, CBP. However, keep in mind that Oliver Luck fired Bill Stewart because 9-3 was not good enough any more. Mr. Luck expects to compete for championships every year, and if that is to be the case, then 11-1 and 12-0 need to be the new realistic. I agree with you, that is not realistic, but the Athletic Director says it is, and the Athletic Director hired Dana Holgerson to produce 11-1 and 12-0 records every year.

      Also, the conference we were in was called the Big East, not the Big Least. Interestingly, objective numerical data produced by the computers used to rate the teams in the BCS standings shows that this year the Big 12 is the fifth-best football conference in the NCAA, slightly ahead of #6, the American Athletic Conference (formerly known as the Big East). Based on what I have seen, I would agree that the Big 12 is a slightly better football conference than the Big East was. The teams at the top of the Big 12 are better, but the teams in the middle and at the bottom are not as good. Other objective numerical data showed that in the past decade, Big East teams did far better in non-conference games than Big 12 teams did.

      • WVUgrad2005

        Bill Stewart was 9-3 with a loaded team in the Big East! He was not recruiting and could not get the kids to qualify that he was recruiting. His offense was horrible with good talent. The only thing we had was Jeff Casteel! The Big 12 is way better than the AAC. You obviously did not play football or be talking about computer rankings.

    • NorthernWVman

      yet......

      I can see big things on the horizon. We can have hope that we will be as good as an OSU or Penn State. We are Mountaineers and have pride.

      Thanks for the stats. It puts some perspective in the eyes of naysayers.

      • Big Larry

        It does?

  • Truthteller

    Hey so far nobody else has put 42 points on Baylor. I think WVU has a good chance to pull out another upset. WVU has its back against the wall and must start winning. Texas Tech is coasting
    and has not played at Morgantown yet so lets give them a nice little memory of how tough it can be to play there. LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!

  • Bernie

    This team is better then what happened at Baylor! We are at home with our great fans and I believe we will surprise TT on all 3 sides of the ball!! This may be the game that us true fans have been waiting for this year to start us on a roll.