MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Some 72 hours removed from an embarrassing defeat at Kansas, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen admitted “the Texas game beat us twice.”
The 31-19 loss—which marked the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 win in 28 games and only their second in 40 games—assured WVU of a losing record and eliminated any talk of bowl contention. The fact it came seven days after a 47-40 overtime loss to Texas was not a coincidence, and the fact Holgorsen was unable to put a hungry team on the field means he’ll face an offseason of hot-seat speculation.
“I talked about (a Texas hangover) not happening, and it did,” Holgorsen said. “Why? You guys can keep pointing the finger at me. That’s what my job is.”
WVU’s third-year coach said he “didn’t reach them, didn’t get them back”—referencing players who didn’t approach the Kansas game with anywhere near the same intensity as they did Texas. The staff’s film study revealed a going-through-the-motions effort that wasn’t sufficient to beat a historically bad Kansas team.
“If we lose because of effort, that’s where I get in a bad spot, and I saw it for the first time on Saturday,” Holgorsen said. “It’s frustrating, but you’ve just got to keep coaching.”
If Holgorsen keeps coaching at WVU—and almost certainly he will be afforded a chance to right the team in 2014—the return of athletics director Oliver Luck looms as a perk. After all, Luck brought in Holgorsen to replace Bill Stewart in 2011, and had the AD won the Texas job this month, Luck’s replacement wouldn’t have been as personally invested in Holgorsen.
Yet even after the debacle in Lawrence, and with WVU having lost five of its last six games, Holgorsen said he and Luck remain of like minds on how to turn around the program.
“We visit a lot. He’s my boss, so we’re going to talk a good bit,” Holgorsen said. “He understands where we’re at, understands where the program’s at and understands what it takes to be able to get it better.
“He’s a football guy. He understands what it takes to win. He understands what it takes to get better and he knows we’re on the right track.”