Over the years, coaches have built up a repertoire of explanations for humiliating defeats: Every loss counts the same.  We’ll learn from this and get better.  Give the other team credit.  We’ll be ready to play next week.

The intent is to isolate the loss as a single event, something that can be rationally explained in a way that it does not carry a deeper meaning about the state of the program.

A team’s fans, an increasingly impatient collection, are finding it harder to accept such coach speak. Disconcerting defeats penetrate the superficial veneer of sports cliches and reveal the true state of things.

WVU’s 31-19 loss to Kanas Saturday confirms a program in decline.  What was supposed to be a rebuilding year–one where fans would give the coaching staff some latitude–is, in fact, a year of regression.

The victory over Oklahoma State,  and the near misses against Oklahoma and Texas, are the aberrations; Maryland, Baylor and Kansas are more the norm. And among the seven defeats this season, the loss in Lawrence stands out.

As Metronews WVU beat writer Allan Taylor phrased it:  “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.”

A weepy Charlie Weis celebrated with the exuberant Kansas fans who stormed the field, their nightmare conference losing streak of 27 games was over.  The coach sold their remaining contests as their bowl game, and the team bought it.

That’s what a coach in rebuilding mode does; he sets attainable goals and then finds ways to reach them.  WVU has no such direction.  The free-fall cannot be slowed in two weeks by beating an Iowa State football team whose only victory this season is against Tulsa.

It’s darkly appropriate that these two teams should meet in a merciful finale of the regular season.  Let’s put an end to the misery so the seniors, who have dedicated thousands of hours to football, can get on with their lives.

When asked after the game to put the Kansas loss in perspective, a shaken Dana Holgorsen said.  “I guess this would be an all-time low.”

Credit the coach for his candor, but the unanswered question as this season limps to an end is whether this is the lowest point of the Luck/Holgorsen era.   If it is, then 2014 can be about clawing back toward respectability.

But then again, we thought this was a rebuilding year.



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  • Jesse's girl

    The speech Bill Stewart gave to those kids before the bowl game should be put on a monument outside the stadium. I heard it replayed recently and again marveled. The much vaunted Rich Rod had pulled the rug out from under them after they worked their tails off during the season. It might even be said that the coach engineered the Pitt loss so he could excuse his exit to Michigan. Stewart stepped in when they “had no chance” according to the much vaunted “experts” and took them to a bowl win, leaving “no doubt!!“ But, alas, Bill Stewart was from West Virginia (strike one) AND he had a discernible accent (strikes 2 and 3). To the erudite elite of the northeast, a Southern accent equals stupidity and the major donors just cannot abide that. So Stewart, in spite of winning, had to go (just as Bobby Bowden decades earlier). Why do we continue to listen to these “wizards of smart?” Is money from major donors the only thing which counts? Apparently it is. And just remember, Dana Holgorsen has no discernible accent and, to the “experts” and major donors that is everything. Be warm.

    • Will

      Stewart was a good guy, but not a good coach. 9-4 was against watered down competition. He had a much better record when he had more than 7 days to prepare for the next game and had trouble making halftime adjustments, which shows he wasn't quick enough to adjust on the fly. He had very poor clock management. Wouldn't fire an obviously inept OC. Etc, Etc. When he was fired, not one school came knocking, not even a Sun Belt or MAC school. That shows you he was not regarded as a good coach. And yes, his folksy, southern ways were a turn-off. Many West Virginians do not relate themselves with southerners and his sound and look was an embarrassment as one of the most visible representatives of the state.

      • susanf1218

        I would take his "folky southern" ways ANY damn day over obnoxious, self-important, pretentious people who are an embarrassment to WV.

    • Jonus Grumby

      Bill was a class act in every sense of the term. He is sorely missed by his family, friends and certainly the fans.

  • wirerowe

    I think that Coach Holgorsen is a football coach. That is what he does. I think in spite of some evidence to the contrary he remains very self assured. The questions on whether he can be a successful division one head coach grow by the day. A successful head coach has to be a Chief Operations Officer of a major business operation, a leader and a recruiter. I am not sure these are his strengths.

  • george

    whos job is it to instill inspiration and confidence? yes I too thought it was the coach but this guy shoes little of nothing.................

  • Jim N Charleston


    Stick to the normal things you know nothing about like WV news & politics. Don't fool with WVU sports or you'll really hurt yourself.

    You guys at metronews are actually being critical instead of the company buttkissers since losing the broadcast contract. Still you are not analysts, instead, just committing hatchet journalism.

    A real synopsis is welcome back WVU to bigtime football. Big time college football where every school has resources, where every school has a fanbase, and by game 5 of the 9 game conference slate, if you dont have depth, you can lose to anyone in the conference.

    Jeff Saragin had WVU at #18 going into Saturday in terms of SOS. You see instead of the Directional Florida commuter school, 4 schools who are represented nationally by Mayors, and 2 land grant schools where women's basketball is king on campus, WVU is playing a big boy schedule. Ya see schools in this conference care too!

    Why do you think the TV package pays $20+ million a year (when we get a full share)? Cause its the big boys.

    Why do you think nationally our old conference was joked as the Big Least?

    WVU fans always wanted to sit at the big boy table and apparently some fans and a "commentator" have not outgrown their booster chairs.

    Btw you either wrote this hatchet job while sauced or out of no real thought or you know less about sports than I ever gave you credit for.

    I'm Jim N a tree stand

    • JL

      Your a fool. I would listen to Hoppy Kercheval any day than your idiotic ramblings. And yes, Hoppy does a great job on sports as well. If you heard him on the air today you heard him defend Holgorsen for taking the blame - and advocating that Dana get another year.

      • JL

        One more thing - the Mountaineer radio coverage that Hoppy Kercheval and his people do is miles and miles above the crappy job that the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG is putting on!

    • Joe


      If you are satisfied with where this WVU football team is after Saturday's loss, so be it. I am not. This program is headed in the wrong direction and there is only one person to blame. Olliver Luck. He engineered this move, which I supported' and he hired this coach, which I did not. He made a huge mistake with the Head coach in waiting plan. It has backfired. Yes I like playing, as you put it, "big boy football" however Kansas is not Big Boy football.....and they beat us like a drum on Sat. You can continue to drink the OL and Holgs coolaid. It isn't working. Our beloved WVU Football program may be flush with $$, but we are headed in the wrong direction!

    • Mike

      Well typed Jim, although just to accept sitting at the table with the big boys and not getting to eat is tough to take!

  • RDM

    I'm thinking we are going to be much like Penn state when they joined the big 10. Just compete , but never win the big prize. Oh yes we will go to bowls

  • Bruiser

    I have had a hard time to have the "heart" in the game like I used to. Mainly on how Luck treated a good decent man and one of our own, Bill Stewart. I agree with Jeff, and another thing, in two of the three years, WV was in the top 25. Luck treated Bill Stewart and his family like dirt, was seen talking on TV with every game, we don't see him now and though I don't completely blame Holgersen, you can tell by watching our team, that there is no "heart" in that team. Whether Holgersen has a good relationship with or not, I don't know, but I do know I do not see the enthusiam or heart that I see in other teams. Bill Stewart was a motivator, not Big 12, what was Oklahoma when we ran all over them. We, the fans, treated one of our own terrible and now we are in the mess that we are in. I won't stop rooting for the Mountaineers, mainly because I remember Bill Stewart saying that is what he would do. I hope we turn it around and I have no respect for an unethical man as Luck, so whatever happens to him, he deserves. One thing I know for sure, we need motivated and we need to find some "heart".

    • appikid

      Ya know, I remember when COACH Stewart passed away, COACH Nehlen commented "Oh man, we lost a good one"! It IS all about heart! Don knew the man and knew what he was saying! A coach, or business owner must first earn the respect of his employees (players), and then instill in them the vision of the quality product, lead them to own their own work with pride. And then the product and work ethic sells itself! It's about leadership and a team! We are ALL salesmen! If you believe in something with passion, and you do everything you can to be the best, in a positive way! Others buy in because they can see the benefits! I am sorry to say it, BUT, I can't see or feel it with the current administration at WVU! We lost our President, our AD tried to jump ship, our head coach ( the 2 million$ man) can't even give a reasonable press conference! I am a fan (customer)! And I am not sold on the future product!!!!!!!!

  • Reply

    NO to Bowden. Bowden was a good coach but not a great one. And the game has now passed him by. WVU should have tried harder to get Jimbo a couple years ago and now it is too late for that. But there are much better coaches out there than Bowden.

    • Jeff

      I won't even argue that point, you very well may be right. I know Terry did a great job with Auburn but he has been out of coaching for quite a while now.
      Like I said in my original post, I don't care if it's Bowden or not. I just want Holgersen gone! Both Doc Holliday and Jimbo Fisher are now proving what a tremendous screwup it was passing both of them up for the job with what they are doing now.
      Doc was asked if he would leave Marshall to coach WVU and he said absolutely not! Marshall was the school that believed in him and made his dream come true and that's where he would stay. Now that's a coach with character that WVU is severely lacking!

      • John

        Did you really expect him to come out and say, "Heck yes I'd leave at the drop of a hat?" If so, I have some ocean front property in Charleston to sell you. Doc is going to do nothing great at Marshall. He's struggling to beat 2-7 teams that Kansas would beat. I'm not happy with losing but I'm not going to freak out and act like the Big XII is like playing in the Big East or C-USA. Let's be real here.

      • Pruntytown

        What has Doc done to impress? Conference USA is not the same level of competion as the BIG XII. Last I checked Marshall was not even leading that putride conference.

        • Pruntytown

          I stand corrected, great job Jeff. I now think WVU should fire Holgerson just so they can hire Doc Holliday. I would like to see how loyal he is to Marshall when looking at 3 million reasons to leave.

        • Jeff

          Actually Marshall is tied for the conference lead right now. They've already won seven games and barely lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Dana just lost to a Kansas Jayhawk team that hadn't won against a conference opponent in their last 27 attempts! Which one is less impressive again?!? Any true WVU fan that has followed their football team for the last several years knows Doc Holliday is one hell of a coach, and he will take Marshall's program to a level they've never been before that I can guarantee! Theres a lot of people that aren't Marshall fans that still have all the respect they ever had for Doc Holliday and the talented coach he truly is and always has been.

  • Medman

    Holdersen should do the right thing, but he will not.

    • Jonus Grumby

      So should Luck. Again, he will not.

    • wvtd

      the right thing in his mind is to take the money and let the chips fall were they may.

  • Jeff

    Trust me the money is there to buyout the contracts! Not from the university but from the boosters and the WVU Foundation . West Virginia like many other major universities is blessed with some very wealthy donors in their fan base.
    If the majority of the major contributors want Dana Holgersen gone, he will be gone. Just like when they wanted Stewart gone, the money "magically" appeared to make it happen.
    Oliver Luck will fight getting rid of Dana not because of the money, he will fight getting rid of Dana because that would require him admitting he made a mistake . One thing that Oliver Luck does not do is admit personal fault in any decision and it would be extremely hard for them to get rid of Holgersen and still avoid having to admit he was wrong hiring him in the first place!

    • appikid

      One thing that really bothers me is where is Oliver Luck? I personally haven't heard or read anything from him since he lost the Texas job! What kind of message are these employees sending to their customers! This is a land grant university! President Clemons is leaving and he was up front and honest about it, and I really respect Dr. Clemons! We really lost a good man there! All you large donors better get hold of this! Without the support of the hard working fans where is your investment?

  • William

    As long as Dana " The Man in Black" Holgerson & Bob "Sweatsuit" Huggins are coaches at WVU, I HOPE THEY LOSE EVERY GAME!
    These two have been a embarrassment to the STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA!
    It's a VERY SAD time to be a Mountaineer fan wherever you may be

    • leroy jethro gibbs

      you love that wvu is losing??
      some fan you are

      • William

        You love men with no class and poor character
        Yes, I'M LOVIN IT VERY MUCH!

        • anon

          I can't stand Dana, but I love those boys that take the field every week for our school. If you can't understand that, I don't know what anyone can do for you

    • kensgirl

      William is a Marsha fan. Ignore him.

    • Robert

      Obviously, you are not a fan!

    • Anon

      I can't stand Dana, but I will NEVER root for this team to lose. What a slap in the face to those kids who wear the jersey!! You sir, are not a true fan.

    • John

      Why don't you just go root for another school then. You make a ridiculous comment.

  • Joseph Goebbels

    How'bout all of you look to your supposed "flag-ship learning institution" for what it should be; a LEARNING FACILITY OF HIGHER EDUCATION" instead of a sports venue....

    • Wowbagger

      What a novel idea! Educational excellence instead of year around sports and eternal partying.

  • William

    When you hire people with POOR CHARACTER things could end up in a big mess!
    WVU Football & Basketball

    • Opie

      Wow. You really can't stand being the redheaded step kid.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, it's so easy to be a Mountaineer fan when the team was racking up wins in the old Big East Conference.but those days are forever gone. The Big 12 is a higher plateau of football and it's time to face the facts. Presently, WVU is not playing the same caliber football as the majority of the teams in this conference. There's a myriad of reasons why, but the bottom line is, the Mountaineers are now a 'little fish' in a much bigger 'pond.'

    Perhaps someday, WVU can win big on the gridiron in the Big 12, but until then, it's time for patience and not panic. Like it or not, this is the new reality of Mountaineer football. In the long run, it'll be better (and much more financially rewarding) to be in the Big 12 rather than the 'reimagined' Big East/AAC. Of course, in the short run, it means enduring football seasons like the past two. What's the old saying: "No pain, no gain," right?

    • Fred

      Well said Captain.

    • Pruntytown

      The money will be there. It is called "shared media rights". Like it or not WVU and the BIG XII are tied to one another. I think the BIG XII may be the one getting the short end of the stick at this point.

      • Rick S.

        From what I read in media reports, it would be very financially difficult for a team to leave the Big 12, so yes, WVU and the Big 12 are tied together -- for now.

        However, if Texas, under its new AD (and with huge financial resources), would decide to leave the Big 12 for say the Big 10 or SEC, then the Big 12 would most likely dissolve and leave a lot of teams on the outs. Just remember, before WVU and TCU joined, the Big 12 was on the verge of dissolution. Without Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 would be nothing more than a Conference USA "wannabe."

        • CaptainQ

          True, Rick S., but keep one more thing in mind. Texas has a separate All-Sports Media deal with ESPN (The Longhorn Network) and part of the 'edited' Big 12 charter allows Texas to keep ALL of the revenue from it. This was the 'deal breaker' a few years ago when the Pac 12 was thinking about adding Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St and Texas Tech. The Pac 12 would NOT allow Texas to keep their Longhorn Network separate from the overall revenue 'pool' for the league. This is why (for a short time) a few years ago Texas was seriously considering becoming an Independent like Notre Dame and BYU. The 'special deal' between the Big 12 and Texas also keeps the league from wanting to expand to twelve teams since this would diminish the league media money from spliting it nine ways to spliting it eleven.

          I would believe Texas, if push came to shove, would go Independent rather than join another league and be forced to surrender revenue from the Longhorn Network to anyone else. It's an uneasy alliance but as long as it works for Texas and the rest of the Big 12's members, then the situation is unlikely to change soon.

          • anon

            Even if Texas were to go independent, the Big 12 would get every penny of their TV dollars (minus 3rd tear revenue). It's called a "grant of right" They can leave the conference, but they must leave their money. They are not going anywhere in the next 12 years.

          • CaptainQ

            I never thought of that. Rick S.

            Excellent point! After all, other charter members of the Big 12 (Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Texas A & M) had no problem bailing on that conference when better opportunities arose. Oklahoma and Oklahoma St could also end up in the Pac 12 if they decided to make it the "Pac 14.' The 'glue' holding the Big 12 together could be wearing off at any time.

          • Rick S.

            Good insight, Captain, as usual.

            Oklahoma is probably the more probable school to jump ship. Although the Oklahoma politicians might try to strong-arm Oklahoma State along with them, which makes the package a little less attractive.

            I see the Big 10 with two more openings to make it to what the "experts" consider the magical 16 number. Reuniting Oklahoma with Nebraska could be a very interesting scenario for the Big 10.

    • susanf1218

      Same old excuses that no one is listening to anymore. The money isn't going to come rolling in like Ollie thought it would. We are in a downward spiral that only stops when he and Holgerson are both replaced.

    • GregG

      Much more financially rewarding? Really? When tickets sales fall to Friday night high school football level I doubt that it will be very financially rewarding. When we can't reach bowl games, I doubt that it will be very financially rewarding. Three to five years from now when the Big 12 kicks our butt to the curb, I doubt that it will be very financially rewarding. When you base your program on instant $$$ as Luck has, then you better have instant success.

      • Joe

        Absolutely agree, Greg!

        • anon

          Greg, I happen to be an attorney, so I know a good bit about contracts. I don't know what world you have been living in, but you obviously haven't been paying attention of NCAA football beyond WVU. The Big 12 needs at least10 teams. I promise you WVU brings in far more football dollars than Kansas or Iowa State. We are the middle of the pack in the Big 12 in terms of dollars/revenue--and that's just considering Big East money. We ill never pass Texas or Oklahoma in terms of that, but we stack up just fine. We are NOT getting kicked out of the Big 12. All we need is a coach.

          • Chalkdust

            Being an attorney and knowing a little bit about contract law you must know that "being needed", has little or nothing to do with the safety/binding of a contract. Ask The ; Big East Conference, "Rich Rod", John Belien, Coach Stewart and WVU what they think.
            No matter our it looks or sounds out loud, it's all about winning and our current football coach is not up to task. He may be a passable OC, but a head coach he's not. Oliver Luck made a forgivable mistake when he hired the Texas/Oklahoma offensive poster boy as a head coach. As fans, we may have to ride it out for a long time (four more years), until Luck admits his error, or a new AD hires a new head football coach who knows how to put together a good coaching staff, instead of a bunch of buddies who wear their hats backwards.

      • CaptainQ

        Yes GregG, it will be more financially rewarding. Even if, as you claim, ticket sales will decrease, the guaranteed TV revenue stream from the Big 12 will be MUCH higher than it ever was in the old Big East. I still believe there will be enough students/alumni to sellout the stadium for home games, even at the rising ticket prices. I will admit that WVU is pricing themselves out of the range of the average wage earner in this state. I myself have attended games in the past but have no future plans to do so because it's just too expensive (ticket, parking, etc). Cheaper to watch the games at home.

        • GregG

          Captain, the direction we are going, we may end up begging for the MAC to let us in. (remember Temple) But as it stands right now, I don't think we would want that either. NIU would beat us like a drum.

          • GregG

            Ha, ha, ha. Don't know where you have been living Anon but in todays America a "contract" doesn't mean anything. If the Big 12 wants WVU gone, they will be GONE. Period. It doesn't matter if it is NCAA football or the UMW, a contract hasn't been worth the paper it is written on since Reagan ruled the country. Money talks, and if WVU isn't bringing in enough cash, the Big 12 would kick them out in a heartbeat. Ol' Luck isn't the only one that has the all about the money attitude. I'm sure there are a few on the Big 12 board that think just like him.

          • Anon

            The Big 12 is not going to kick us out. First, there is a little issue of a contract. Second, The Big 12 needs 10 teams. Who else are they going to add? Cincinnati? Not happening. Besides, Kansas and Iowa State have been terrible since they started playing football. If they are going to kick anyone out, it would be them. We bring three BCS trophies with us, including one over a Big 12 powerhouse.

    • Bean


  • Joe

    The WVU this coaching crew lost my respect last year whenthey began spending Friday nights at the VarsityClub versus being with the team at the hotel. The WVU Foundation helped get us in this mess, and they can get us out of it with the funds to cover the buyouts.

  • Harpers Ferry

    I agree with your opinion. In fact, I saw this evident in the Baylor game last year. A GAME WE WON. But while many we're singing Dana's praises, I saw the storm on the horizon and only NOW are my friends seeing that I was right all along. Unfortunately, thanks to Ollie Luck, we are STUCK. So I hate to tell Mountaineer Nation, but Dana is back next year because we can't afford his buyout. And even worse, if you think this year was bad, wait till next year. The rest of the conference is young and we don't have Georgia State and William & Mary on our schedule next year. Never said this before, but glad I get to (at least Luck FINALLY got rid of Van Zant), at least there's the BASEBALL season to look forward to.