LAWRENCE, Kan. — Try as we might to categorize this West Virginia football collective, to judge competency and gauge progress, its identity has juked and jittered from week to week—or in some cases, series to series.

Then came Saturday at KU, where clarity arrived with insulting force.

In a performance flatter than the Osage plains, West Virginia suffered loss No. 7, and despite Dana Holgorsen’s postgame spiel that all losses sting the same, this one undeniably stung worse than any of the previous six.

A 31-19 blistering by Kansas also assured that this season—the one with the “rebuilding” tag applied squarely to the front—is an unmitigated disappointment. Needing only to beat the dregs of the Big 12 to salvage the program’s 11-year bowl streak, WVU mustered neither enough emotion or discipline to warrant a postseason invite. Let some other team practice in a Brooklyn hotel ballroom … this one isn’t deserving.

“Probably the most disappointing game of the year,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, whose unit needed two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes merely to make the outcome respectable. That is, if climbing within 12 points of a team ending a three-year conference drought can be considered respectable.

“We just didn’t play as hard as (Kansas) did.”

By halftime, Kansas had 17 points (eclipsing its per-game average of 15.9) and West Virginia wasn’t keeping pace, carrying the glazed-over look of a team still depleted from the previous week’s loss to Texas.

Big-play target Kevin White—producer of a three-catch, 9-yard receiving day—was his typically candid self, admitting WVU didn’t consider Kansas a serious threat.

“This week was just a little off,” White said. “Big loss when we played Texas—we should have won that game. Then we come in here and like, “Aw, we’re playing Kansas.'”

That overconfidence only ballooned when West Virginia covered 75 yards on its first six plays to move ahead 7-0. West Virginia’s next 12 possessions, however, produced zilch.

“I thought we was going to beat them by a lot,” White said. “Everybody was just calm, like ‘Yeah, we got it. We’re playing Kansas.’ I just think we took them too lightly, myself included. We came out dead—just wasn’t into it. We were just off.”

That off-again, on-again contrariety looms as this team’s beguiling legacy: The only squad to take down preseason favorite Oklahoma State also is the only one to send Kansas students scurrying up the goal posts.

“This team’s good enough to beat anybody at the top (of the Big 12),” Holgorsen said, before tacking on a rather obvious caveat. “And this team’s not good enough to beat anybody at the bottom if we don’t play well.”

From top-to-bottom of the league—what a capricious bunch these Mountaineers became. Today, they’re clearly closer to the bottom. Rock chalk bottom.

Where does that leave Holgorsen, whose second season as head coach was worse than his first, and whose third season was worse than his second?

With WVU’s athletics department expected to dip back into the red next year, he’s too expensive to fire—owed more than $9 million on a contract that stretches through the 2017 season. From a pure performance perspective, Holgorsen deserves another season, though 2014 had better show more player development and fewer noncompetitive outcomes.

The perception WVU was close to being a winner this season is downright dubious: In only one of those seven losses did it have a chance to tie or lead on the final possession. That one was last week’s overtime gut-punch against Texas, a game rich with energy, dash and grit.

All things conspicuously absent against Kansas.

 

 


bubble graphic

130

bubble graphic

Comments

  • John S. Shackelford

    At the beginning of the season I hardly knew the name of anyone on the roster. Complete mystery to me. I still don't. I have to give him a by on this season, because of youth and unfamiliarity of the players and coaching staff,. Too early to bond. Lack of depth at any number of positions played a role. More or less doomed from the beginning. We need a couple of great quarterbacks and receivers. Don't understand why we can't recruit a player like Marcus Lee of USC or a quarterback like A. J. McCarren from Alabama. This considering our offensive scheme of throwing into space. Also need a running back that keeps linebackers out of pass coverage.
    Well, we don't have to go to the Pinstripe Bowl. That is a victory in itself. Notre Dame may be the unlucky one this year and have their teeth chatter on the sidelines.

  • LongShot

    I wonder what the chances of getting RichRod back would be? At least his players respected him. Putting on flame retardant suit................

  • taxpayer

    We wouldn't need tp rebuild if we hadn't jumped conferences. I'm not impressed with Holgerson. He makes excuses with each loss. Oliver Luck ois sketchy at best. He meddled in the media contract and now he is job hunting. Its hard to sit back and watch all this.

  • Mountaineer4ever

    I have been a mountaineer fan for 36 years, and lot of you are kidding your selfs if u think next year will be better than this year. Look at the recruiting, what changes do you foresee that will make this team better. The product you see on the field will be the same product as this year. All three quarterbacks do not have the talent to run this offense, so what makes you believe mostly the ones that say they been a mountaineer fan so long that this team will be better. What do you expect next year, 8 wins, that is wishful thinking. Again, look closely, the only bright spot is the running backs and receivers, but you need a quarterback who can lead, and offensive line that can block, and a defense that can stop someone. We will be lucky to win three games next year.

  • El Supremo

    If the talent is non-existent, how does one expect to improve it?

    Compare the skill set of this team with every team in the SEC, ACC, Big 10, PAC XII, Big XII and the MAC. In which conference do these players belong as complete team.

    When Holgorsen was hired, the WVU Sports Information Dept. trumpeted his hiring as an offensive guru and DEVELOPER of QBs.

    After this year's lack of player development, I question the entire coaching staff's ability to judge talent, especially at the quarterback position.

  • me

    Same thing next year. Mark my word

  • don

    You people are making it sound like the big east was a pushover conference. Get over it; wv (in the big east) gave Oklahoma (best of the big 12 then) a good whipping ina bcs bowl, with the coach O.Luck chose to replace with what we have now. Coaching makes a huge difference.

  • Mister Man

    I'm willing to wait to see what happens.

  • derek

    Rebuilding this staff had their chance I say rebuild find a coach that can recruit. guess we snubbed the wrong HC. Doc Holiday.

  • Larry

    One thing to remember is that the state of WV has always been, is, and will always be irrelevant in big time college sports, as long as you remember that you won't be so disappointed when teams are terrible.

  • Roland

    "I don't think we can win a championship with Bill Stewart" - Oliver Luck

    • Mister Man

      Correct.

  • J. North

    I know this will get "disagreed" with and I'll be chastised for it but can we have perspective?

    Gary Patterson has been 7-6 and 4-7 in his first two seasons in the Big 12. Kyle Whittingham has gone 8-5, 5-7, and 4-5 since joining the Pac 12. Coach Holgs has gone 7-6 and and 4-7 (same as TCU) since joining the Big 12. Switching conferences is an extremely hard thing to do and be successful out of the gate. The only one that has been succesful is Bo Pelini at Nebraska and that was a much easier transition for them than it has been for WVU, TCU or Utah. We took a huge step up in competition, completely changed the landscape of recruiting, did a 180 in the style of play and instead of facing teams that had a few NFL level guys on, we are facing the likes of Texas/Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/ (recent years Baylor and TCU) who take kids out of Texas and into the NFL on a yearly basis. This all sounds very excusatory and to a certain extent it is, but if you think the program is behind now (which it is) wait until you "clean house" like a lot of you are chirping for. This is a proud school and a proud state and that's what I loved about it as soon as I stepped on campus. Please, don't confuse pride with greed. If next year is another step down or laterally then absolutely things need to change but there is no point in blowing it all up now.

    • Mister Man

      What?

    • Troll is back

      100% right in your assessment. Also right in that most won't agree because you didn't want to immediately fire everyone from the latest newborn to the governor. Glad to see some logic here for a change.

  • Troll is back

    Isn't it funny that Holgorsen's worst season isn't as bad as RR's worst season yet people seem to want him back as opposed to honoring a contract (by the way something else RR failed to do) giving to Holgorsen by our university. He should get to serve out his contract then be reevaluated as to wether or not be retained, who knows he may become a great coach.

  • WVcoal

    Let me repeat......This WVU team's "Desire Account" is BANKRUPT. Until they are willing to put in the work required and match that work with desire and heart, they will remain cellar-dwellers in the Big 12.

  • Shadrach

    For the past few years it's been a very sad time to be a Mountaineer. Hopefully, things will change soon.