Optimists will cite the management proverb, “Every change is an opportunity to improve.”

That was what WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck had in mind when he hired Dana Holgorsen as the football team’s offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting almost three years ago.  (Holgorsen took over a season earlier than expected after Bill Stewart was fired.)

“Coach Holgorsen is one of the top coaches in college football,” Luck said in a statement Dec. 16, 2010.  “We know that Coach Holgorsen will bring a high-powered offense that will be incredibly entertaining to watch at Milan Puskar Stadium.”

Certainly in Holgorsen’s first season, the young coach delivered.   WVU finished 10 and 3, including a record-shattering 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Expectations skyrocketed.

The meltdown in the second half of last season, including an embarrassing 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, tempered those expectations, especially since it was understood that 2013 would be a rebuilding year.

But is WVU rebuilding?

It did not appear that way Saturday as the Mountaineers were trampled by a subpar Kansas State team.  West Virginia clung to a 9-7 lead after two quarters, but following halftime adjustments, the Wildcats outscored the Mountaineers 28-3 in the final two quarters.

“We’re not playing winning offensive football,” Holgorsen said after the game.  “Are we improving and does it look better at times? Yes.  Is it good enough to win a Big 12 football game?  Absolutely not.”

On that, Holgorsen and an increasingly irate Mountaineer fan base can agree.

Here were some of the offensive statistics before Saturday’s game:

–WVU ranked 78th in total offense with 395 yards a game.  The Mountaineers fell short of that average Saturday with 367.

–WVU ranked 94th in scoring offense with 23 points a game, and managed only half that average against K-State.

–WVU ranked 111th on 3rd down conversion at 30 percent, but was only 4 of 16 Saturday for 25 percent. The Mountaineers were also 0 for 2 on fourth down.

–WVU was +1 in turnover margin before the game, but turned the ball over three times to two for the Wildcats, who were a miserable -9 prior to Saturday.

This is not a team that’s improving.

The disappointment runs deeper than the outcomes of individual games.  There’s always a risk that when a new coach’s acumen is oversold that the dissatisfaction will be even more acute.

 

 

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Comments

  • David

    We need another "coach in waiting"

  • Will

    Thinking back to when WVU was rumored to be leaving the Big East for the SEC, in hindsight.....i'm sure glad we didn't end up there. Can't help to think what our record would be the during the past two years. Had we landed in the ACC, I think we would be more competitive, especially last year. I dont think its any 'one' thing, but more a sum of all things. Inexperience on team and head coach, Big 12 is tougher this year, high expectations, recruiting, etc. We need someone like Coach Snyder from K-State. They don't win with the best recruits, they won with work ethic, discipline and fundamentals. Something WVU currently seems to lack these days, starting with the head coach.

  • Frank Boso

    Second week in a row we get creamed in the second half. I saw no coaching adjustments in either game. We also got beat badly from a physical point of view. Coaching? Conditioning? Recruits? Holgorsen owns all of this. Ollie and Dana need to be shown the door.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy

    Trying sports again ayy? Well no worse results than when you try politics and hard news issues.

    Anyways Skippy the facts are these: the strength of schedule is a Tad more difficult in 2013 than maybe EVER. According to Jeff Saragin, the SOS is currently #8 (that's in the country). In 2012, it was 29. In 2011, the final season in the big East, it was 57. Coincidentally 2011, WVU went 10-3 & won an Orange Bowl 70-33. Feel free to Google if you doubt Jim N Charleston.

    Conclusion there are no UConns, Rutgers, Directional Floridas, Directional Carolinas, or schools named after dying rust-belt cities that are losing population with 40k seat stadiums at 80% capacity.

    Welcome to a real FOOTBALL CONFERENCE.

    Patience and time are needed. If it isn't given, I hope the impatience spreads to election day cause WV as a State has been BOTTOM 5% for a generation yet reelection rates are north of 90%.

    All I got!

    • Rick S.

      First, I would like to give Jim credit for researching the strength of schedule data. Good job.

      I would suggest taking the strength of schedule data with a grain of salt. WVU's "strong" schedule featured William & Mary (an FCS school/SOS 168), Georgia State (perhaps the worst team in the FBS/SOS 120), and Maryland (SOS 83). That is not exactly an all-star lineup.

      The supposedly seventh strongest strength of schedule belongs to Iowa State (another pretty bad team), whose non-conference schedule featured Northern Iowa (132), Iowa (43), and Tulsa (74).

      Comparing a mid-season strength of schedule to an end-of-season strength of schedule is a little misleading. WVU has already played Baylor (SOS 96), Oklahoma State (SOS 52), and Texas Tech (SOS 79), who all feasted on soft non-conference schedules. WVU has not yet played Kansas and Iowa State, two of the worst teams in the conference. WVU's strength of schedule will probably drop considerably by the end of the season, and finish somewhere around where it did last season.

      Finally, all these strength of schedule numbers are compiled by Jeff Sagarin, and are based on one man's calculations.

    • JS

      A freakin men!!!

  • TD

    After becoming used to having a good football program which was pretty consistently in the top 25, this is extremely disappointing. At least most of the years when we were experiencing losing seasons it was an obvious rebuilding year and progress could be seen. I don't see that this year, actually since mid season last year we've been going in a bad direction. It is NOT because we're suddenly in the Big 12 and never faced good competition before, it's because the program is not being ran well.

    We have to give Holgerson one more year to show he can turn it around but if at this point next year we're getting out coached at every half time, time for him to go. One thing Nehlen and Rich-Rod were good at, making halftime adjustments.

    • kensgirl

      100% agreed! It's not the "rebuilding year" that is so frustrating, it's the UTTER LACK of any progress being seen as the year progresses. AND the utter lack of any halftime adjustments on our end.

      And I don't completely buy the "rebuilding year" malarkey anyway. When you look around and see other teams in our league, and in others, who are winning with true freshman (in some cases, true freshman walk-ons), and redshirt freshmen or sophomores, and by no means were ALL of them 4 and 5-star recruits, or else winning with their back-up QBs, that speaks to a coaching issue. A good coach gets the most out of what he has to work with. And, as someone else pointed out, all three of these QBs are of Dana's choosing.

      Also, I seem to remember one of his continued selling points after we made the transition to the Big 12 was, "Dana knows all of these teams and all of these schemes, and he knows the geographic area, so he'll be able to recruit there!" So we have ... Millard, Childress (who I still hold out SOME hope for when he's healthy again next year) and Dustin Garrison, who is very talented but hasn't been able to stay healthy. Other than that, are recruits from TX, OK, etc. beating down our doors?

      I'm sorry - I just don't see Holgs as having what it takes to be a Head Coach. He's not a motivator at all, apparently. It's not necessary to be some trendy, cool dude like Kingsbury to get your team to play for you. Bill Snyder's guys will obviously follow him through fire if he asked them to. I don't see any kind of fire, devotion, loyalty or even happiness in the team who is playing for Holgorson. That being said, I think he should get one more year and we fans will just have to cross our fingers that he doesn't run us so far into the ground that it takes another decade to climb out of the hole.

    • James

      We need Luck and Holgerson gone right now if so we can start a new program now not next year or the year after. If you want something fixed you do it now to get it done !

  • BuckeyeMountaineer

    Luck is a smart man who has done good things but Holgs situation has been a disaster from the beginning. So what to do now? Whether or not Luck stays at WVU would seem to have a great deal to do with Dana's future.

  • GregG

    Now everyone needs to just chill out. We now have at WVU what most on here and the media mouthpieces want......A BIG BUSINESS that is all about the $$$. We got our TV and radio contracts, our increased ticket and mandatory donations, our vendor contracts, our high dollar beer and our captive market due to no half time pass outs. And when the program hits the bottom of this hole they are digging, you can count on Oliver all about the $$ Luck to find a way to dig it a little deeper. That is of course if he hasn't already left WVU for greater personal profits. Trickle down baby! Just keep one thing in mind. If CaptainQ was the coach at Alabama , Fungo was the coach at FSU and Hoppy was the coach at OU, the top high school players would still bell waiting in line just for the chance to sit on the bench at any of these 3 schools just because of the name. That is one luxury WVU will never have.

    • Hop'sHip

      I wouldn't play for Fungo. He might shoot me if I wore a hoodie to practice. I don't think I could play for Q either because he'd probably expect me to go to class. So I guess my options are to sit on Hoppy's bench or be a BMOC at WVU. I'm going to WVU! I'll schedule a news conference later to make my committment official. I may wait to get more information on the Deforest merit pay program.

      • zero tolerance

        Good one Hop'sHip!

        Don't forget about the coached who would like to redistribute the playing time so all players get in the game. Maybe you could cone back as a Grad Assistant there?

        Trophies at the end of the season for everyone!

  • zerotolerance

    It has taken many more losses than the majority of the fan-base but it looks like WVMN has turned on Horse Woman and "It's All About the Money Boys" Luck. They can't support them any longer.

    Luck will go to Texas and Horse Woman will end up somewhere as an OC. Might not be this year for Horse Woman but Luck will be gone soon.

    I have predicted it for a long time and stated it many times on here, when Horse Woman and Luck depart WVU Athletics will be in shambles.

    • susanf

      Sadly, you are right. But their departure will also mark a new beginning and hopefully better things. It is just too bad that it will take some time to recover from the huge mistakes that resulted from their tenure. I, like you, have said many times that WVU will rue the day that Oliver Luck was hired as the AD.

      • scott

        People like wva fan and susanf and zerotolerance.....the main reason west virginia is still west virginia...and probably always will be.

        Oh..and anyone who thinks Bill Stewart was better a coach than ohhhhh...I dont know...anybody.

    • Doug

      You think this team is bad now? Wait and see what happens if Holgerson leaves. I am not saying he is a good coach. We will have all new coaches with recruits recruited for Holgersons style. It will take another 4 years for the new coaches recruits to get in and play to their level of abililty. You only gave holgerson 3. Look at New England. They have all new receivers are they are now where near the team they use to be and they have a top QB and head coach. I give holgerson one more year. That's it for me.

  • West Virginia fan

    Seems there has been no "luck" at all for West Virginia University since Oliver Luck arrived in Morgantown! Hop, you have done everything you could to build up Oliver Luck and both coaches, but why not be honest with your following -- it isn't working.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, let's face the facts. Big 12 brand football is a HUGE step up from what the former 'Big East' had. Oliver Luck knew this when he lobbied so hard to get the Mountaineers an invitation into this conference. Sure, the Athletic Department is raking in a LOT more money than they ever did in the old Big East, no matter what the football team's record happens to be. However, the ultimate 'price' for these riches is playing in a far more competitive league.

    The bottom line is, we all should've seen this coming a long time ago. WVU simply hasn't landed the higher quality recruits it'll take to win in the Big 12. In the old Big East, it was a lot easier to win games, not so much in the Big 12. In the future, unless big changes are made, at best WVU will remain a lower rung team in the pecking order of this league. How does ANY Head Coach make Morgantown a more attractive option for five star high school seniors than schools in the SEC, ACC or Big Ten? The one who can discover the answer to THIS question will truly succeed. Otherwise, WVU will be fortunate to reach 6-6 every season.

    • Joe

      Respectfully Cap, you mean the SEC, Big 12 and ACC whose champions we defeated in the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls as a member of the Big East? We also played for a national championship as an eastern independent school.

      I do not buy this argument of joining the Big 12 being the main issue. There is too much parity in college football, with the exception of only a couple of schools, who will cycle down at some point.

      This comes down to a simple matter of lack of improvement. Not sure what's on the playesrs or the coaches minds, but it sure as heck is not football.

      • CaptainQ

        Yes Joe, the same SEC, ACC and Big Ten who rejected WVU when they came knocking to join their leagues a few years ago. Defeating a high caliber football team in a single Bowl Game is a much simpler task than playing a regular season schedule in a league loaded with higher caliber teams like the Big 12. And if you're going to measure past success by Bowl victories, consider this. The Mountaineer's All Time Bowl record is 14 - 18 which included a eight year Bowl losing streak between 1987 to 1998. That's not really something to brag about.

        Though I will agree that the switch to the Big 12 is not the ONLY factor in WVU's gridiron's demise, it is no doubt one of the factors contributing to the overall problem.

        • Joe

          I understand where you're coming from, Cap, but I doubt Coach Nehlen, Rodriguez and even Holgorsen would agree that it is much simpler to defeat a higher caliber team in a single bowl game.

          If you look at the seasons I mentioned above, the teams we played were putting as many if not more players in the NFL than we were.

          Joe

          • WVWho

            As Boise State proved as well. Any team can win ONE big game a year especially with time to prepare and both tems being off a while. Recruiting will never be a strong point at WVU and as Cap said will contribute to the team staying in the 6-6,7-5 range with a great year being 8-4.

        • Shadow

          From what I read, WVU wasn't rejected because they were a lesser football team, it was because they were a lesser University.

          • kensgirl

            Which was proven to be BS when the ACC accepted UL and even came OUT and said that it was to boost football/basketball and not academics. We were kept out of the ACC by three NC schools and UVA, from what I remember reading at the time. Even VT voted us in, but it took 9 votes and we only got 8.

          • CaptainQ

            Kensgirl, as I understand it, a big reason why there were so many 'no' votes for WVU entering the ACC is because of a long standing grudge that started back when the ACC was first formed. The Mountaineers WERE invited to join the fledgling ACC at the beginning, but it was WVU who said NO, deciding the remain Independent. Most of the founding members of the league will NEVER forgive WVU for that.

    • Nick Charles

      Captain Q is 100% correct. Morgantown will never have 5 stars. The folks in the south where the best athletes play have no idea where WVU is located. 6-6 is the best they can do. Kansas for homecoming every year

  • Alum

    I think the situation with the then-Governor's daughter back in 2008 brought much more disgrace on WVU than the current football coach.

    • Alum

      Edit: or current Athletic Director.

    • rekterx

      I am 100% behind this statement. All day and every day I am 100% behind this statement.

    • DonaldH

      Agreed!

    • Shadow

      Do you remember giving the media rights to friends? That was egregious.

      • kensgirl

        Have you tried to stream games or before/after shows this year? When the station list came out, I went to I Heart Radio and Tune-In and bookmarked every station on the list that I could find (since none of them had downloadable apps) so that I could be sure to catch them wherever I was. On Saturday (and this wasn't the first time this season) I was on the road during the second half of the game and had to go through EIGHT different stations before finding one that was carrying the game. I finally picked it up on a Wheeling station that was a FOX affiliate. The only thing I could think was that any that were ESPN affiliates weren't allowed to stream the game when it was airing on Fox Sports, which is complete BS to me. The IMG arrangement is worthless if you're on the road.

    • Patchy

      It was grimly ironic to watch administrators and officers of the university, ostensibly the guardians of academic integrity, fall on their swords in what nevertheless became a shockingly inept cover-up to protect Caesar's daughter. Some of them are still attempting to reclaim pensions, etc. but they sold their reputations and deserve their comeuppance.

      The daughter, ostensibly a CEO but acting like a frightened cat, hid under her desk until the storm subsided and still occupies her PA sinecure where, by all accounts, she is a holy terror, with morale flat-lining and talented executives fleeing her arbitrary capriciousness.

      Caesar has traveled to Rome where he performs readings from the Book Of Byrd & Rockefeller, talking tough while doing the Dem lockstep march and hoping the rubes back home don't notice despite the pervasiveness of the Internet even in the Mountain State.

      As for Holgorsen, the title wording should be reshuffled. Our expectations have not changed. It is he who has fallen well short of them.

    • Curious

      Agree!

  • Vito

    If you do a background search on the history of Dana Holgorsen as a football coach it is not that great.

    IMPO WVU directors should clear the air and terminated Oliver Luck. He has brought nothing but disgrace to our beloved WVU !

    • Doug

      Did you research Bill Stewarts record? Its worse than Holgerson's.

      • Brian

        Not at WVU!!!

        • Red Dwarf

          Stewart at WVU was like Seifert at the 49ers and Switzer at Dallas - they inherited great players. Stewie jumped the shark with the Louisville game his first year. First and goal with two minutes to go and three timeouts and go into halftime with nothing. Bill might have been a "good ol' boy", despite his skullduggery, but he was a miserable coach. Look at his record BEFORE he came to Morgantown.

  • Jimmy n joe

    We are paying for bad recruiting classes 2 n 3 years ago.

    • Mark

      and who recruited the QB's that are there now?

    • Neal

      If you would have told me three years ago when holgerson was hired that in his third year he had not yet recruited an excellent QB to run his pass oriented, high powered offense, I would have thought you were crazy. With his resume coming in, QB was the very last position I was worried about in regards to recruiting. Yet here we are, three years later and with our current QB situation. This tells me something about his ability to recruit.

    • TruthTeller

      Or you could blame on George Bush like Obuma does.

  • Jimmy n joe

    Hey hoppy our biggest problem is we don't have a good qb which is the most important position. Millard slow arm strength weak knows the system has problems executing lack of athleticism. Tricket very small can't take the pounding due to poor o line play playing hurt a decent qb and we are over 25 percent on third down also inconsistent play from wr resulting in drops when pass is there.

  • Debra

    Hopefully we will have some good surprises this year in basketball. The key word is hopefully.

    • Brad

      I keep forgetting how Snyder came in & had a championship team in 3yrs.... Or how RichRod left our championship team after a couple of 9-3 Big East seasons... Or how our unbeaten 1993 team, how our entire fan base was up in arms that we didn't get a national championship game.... gets destroyed by UofF in the gator bowl & then 5-6 the next season & maybe averaging 6-5 until 2003...... Weird how 3 BCS games in 7yrs makes us forget the actual direction our program....