Last week following the loss to Kansas, a season low for the Mountaineers, I wrote that the program was regressing, not rebuilding.  It’s evident from the comments on talk shows and websites that many Mountaineer fans feel the same way, and some are even calling for Coach Dana Holgorsen to be fired.

That’s rash. Holgorsen may indeed be at a low point, and he may be incapable of fulfilling the substantial expectations created when Athletic Director Oliver Luck hired him, but we don’t know yet.

He should, in fact he must, be given more time.

Holgorsen was hired under the confounding circumstance of head-coach-in-waiting, an ill-conceived concept that led to Bill Stewart’s firing and Holgorsen being thrust into the top spot a year earlier than expected.

2011 turned out to be Holgorsen’s best season so far, including the historic Orange Bowl win over Clemson, but he still did not have the time or freedom to hire his own staff or adjust to his first head coaching job.

Whether it’s coaching, recruiting or a combination of circumstances, the WVU football program has been hurt by attrition.

According to Greg Hunter of the Blue and Gold News, of the 97 players signed in the 2009-2012 recruiting classes, only 47 are still on the team.  Eight players from the 2009 class—including Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey—have graduated, but the number still explains why WVU has a dearth of depth and talent.

Hunter reports that, while it’s still early, the 2013 recruiting class looks more promising; 25 of the 26 players signed are still with the program.

Holgorsen has also been hurt by coaching attrition.  Five of the nine assistant coaches currently with the team are new this season (although Lonnie Galloway, Tony Gibson and Ja’Juan Seider are all on their second stint at WVU).

Only Shannon Dawson has been with Holgorsen at WVU since the beginning, and he’s at a different position.  He started as wide receivers coach and now is the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. The offensive line has had three different coaches in four seasons.

Holgorsen believes, at least he hopes, that the staff has finally settled in for awhile.

These days, schools are much quicker to dump coaches.  UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni after 2 1/3 seasons.  Skip Holtz was let go at South Florida after three years.  Jon Embree got just two seasons at Colorado. USC gave Lane Kiffin 3 1/2 seasons.

Those may have been justifiable fires, but schools that pull the trigger too quickly run the risk of starting a revolving door of coaches. Schools like Tennessee and Pitt have yet to recover from a series of hiring mistakes.

And there is the financial reason for keeping Holgorsen.  It’s unfathomable that WVU would sign such a one-sided deal that requires the University to pay the entire amount remaining on the contract if he’s fired.  Today, that’s $11.3 million; it’ll be $8.6 million after next year.

But that’s the deal. Let’s just call it an “investment.’’  Like most investments, you don’t want to dump the stock when it’s tanking unless you absolutely have to.   Given more time, Holgorsen may end up paying dividends.

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Comments

  • Joe C

    WVU has the forth youngest team in the nation. No talent at quarterback and suffered many injuries on the defensive side of the ball making our depth problems even worse. Look at our roster and you will see how many kids we redshirted. Our depth is growing. We have crest coming to town and another Juco who may enroll in order to learn the offense in the spring. Kevin White and Mario Alford will have a full year in our offense. We will also have Sheldon Gibson and Russell Shell coming off a redshirt and understanding the offense. Holgerson isn't going anywhere. Next year the team on the field will truly be his. If we don't see results then he is on the hot seat. We have 24 out of 25 recruited kids stay in the program this year when normally 10 kids would leave for whatever reason. You can't compete at this level without depth. Patience is a virtue, just wait and see.

  • Andrew

    The people that want Dana and Oliver fired are ridiculous. I can't believe that is even a thought. YOU NEED TIME TO BRING IN RECRUITS AND BUILD A PROGRAM. Point blank. Preiod. End of statement.

  • Dean Miller

    The FACT is Dana has got to go. After the loss today everything has been proven, he is not the coach for WVU!! Get rid of this guy now. Maybe he can come back in 20 years when he is a proven coach. Now WVU picked him up off the street, send him back to the street. Finish the search for the replacement. Hopefully it is close to finding someone, since we have known for months that Dana did not fit at WVU.

  • George Butt

    FIRE HIM AND LUCK ! HE IS NO COACH AND ANYONE THAT THOUGHT HE WAS SHOULD BE FIRED AS WELL. TURNING MY BLUE AND GOLD IN FOR GREEN AND WHITE

    • Dean Miller

      Agree with you 200%. Dana is not a coach and has got to go. He is not WVU material and Ollie is a question as well.

  • Phil Eastman

    There is some good news- the last game is- Iowa State

  • ExtendedMountaineerFamily

    ExtendedMountaineerFamily

    I watched every mountaineer game this year and witnessed a team that had talent and at times appeared unstoppable, if only occasionally. As a team they had many new key players and coaches together for the first time and they often seemed to lack the chemistry and continuity which only time can provide. The coaching staff was faced with great, well-rounded teams all year long who relied on experienced and talented players but the mountaineers gave most of these teams a run for their money. The mountaineers matched up well with certain teams (Ok state., Ok, Texas, Tt) but not so much with other teams (Maryland,Kansas and Baylor). From my point of view, if they were able to play competitively against these talented teams and almost win those games then this speaks volumes of the coaching staff. I think it is similar to the smaller European basketball teams who beat our dream teams because they played as a team and were coached well, as they obviously, did not have the same caliber of talent on the court or the bench. There are very few college football teams in the country or in history who could consistently run down the field scoring 60-80 points a game like lightning but I see that this is something that Dana Holgorsen knows how to do and none of the previous coaches who have been at WV have been able to do that, nor have any of the available coaches in the country who could be hired for the job. I think mountaineer fans need to take a look at what we have and be more thankful on this Thanksgiving. If you let this young coach build a program, mature and support him while he does it then you may have 4-years of national championships in row like an Alabama, maybe 6. It isn't all about high-paying donors and blue chip players but it is about scoring touchdowns and building a program. Remember, he's just a football coach not a radio personality. I can't imagine a young Bear Bryant would have been fun to interview during a season like this one but would guess he'd draw a pretty high salary..

  • ExtendedMountaineerFamily

    I watched every mountaineer game this year and witnessed a team that had talent and at times appeared unstoppable, if only occasionally. As a team they had many new key players and coaches together for the first time and they often seemed to lack the chemistry and continuity which only time can provide. The coaching staff was faced with great, well-rounded teams all year long who relied on experienced and talented players but the mountaineers gave most of these teams a run for their money. The mountaineers matched up well with certain teams (Ok state., Ok, Texas, Tt) but not so much with other teams (Maryland,Kansas and Baylor). From my point of view, if they were able to play competitively against these talented teams and almost win those games then this speaks volumes of the coaching staff. I think it is similar to the smaller European basketball teams who beat our dream teams because they played as a team and were coached well, as they obviously, did not have the same caliber of talent on the court or the bench. There are very few college football teams in the country or in history who could consistently run down the field scoring 60-80 points a game like lightning but I see that this is something that Dana Holgorsen knows how to do and none of the previous coaches who have been at WV have been able to do that, nor have any of the available coaches in the country who could be hired for the job. I think mountaineer fans need to take a look at what we have and be more thankful on this Thanksgiving. If you let this young coach build a program, mature and support him while he does it then you may have 4-years of national championships in row like an Alabama, maybe 6. It isn't all about high-paying donors and blue chip players but it is about scoring touchdowns and building a program. Remember, he's just a football coach not a radio personality. I can't imagine a young Bear Bryant would have been fun to interview during a season like this one but would guess he'd draw a pretty high salary...

  • John S. Shackelford

    I don't think WVU is that far away from competing in the Big XII in football. Their kicking game looks good, Special teams ok overall. Defense up and down but in the majority of games they did play well enough to win the game. ITS THE DAMN OFFENSE. Specifically, no quarterback;The QB play has been LOUSY. The Big XII is an offense oriented league and we don't have any. The recruiting needs to be more Texas-oriented. That is the biggest problem we have, beside the quarterback position. WVU belongs in the ACC, but the aristocrats and incest mongers in North Carolina have thumbed their nose at us. This situation is strictly personal; they don't like us personally. The fact that we are thousands of miles away from other members of the conference may be the most important factor. We have to become more like the teams in our conference if we are to enjoy success. I don't think coaching is the problem now. We just don't have enough of the parts of the machine to make it work.

  • steve

    I wonder if this comment goes through,Wv radio corp is Awesome!!!!!!,Cause if you question any motives or agenda this site & its owners may have against certain personalites related to wvu it will not make it past the moderator.

  • wv4ever

    People need to just shut up about getting rid of Luck or Holgerson or Deforest or anyone else. The cards have been played and we are stuck with the hand until the game is over. If Luck and Holgerson do not succeed, their careers will go south at our expense. In the meantime, we will make millions from being the wimps of the Big 12.

  • Timothy Webb

    Holgorson is incapable of seeing the picture. He was handed a team full of talent and given the opportunity to recruit knowing he had that talent. When the prior talent left, what was left belonged to Holgorson and is a result of his coaching.He has had his time to to something, and has failed miserably. He cannot manage a game, call the proper plays, uses too many time outs because of his inability to get plays into the game.He does not see the big picture and has let the special teams hurt him the whole time he has been here. While the defense has played with spirit and spunk and has improved dramatically from last year, it is still very thin and only average at best. The offense this year is a joke. You have one of the best collections of running backs ever at WVU and he can't coach the offensive line up enough to make good use of this crew. He has horrible qb's but still insists on using his pasing attack as the primary weapon. He presents a horrible on the sidelines, belittling players and showing the attitude of "why can't you guys do what I want". The talent is there except at QB, the coaching is what is missing. Why in three years could an offensive Guru like Holgorsen is suppose to be not recruit a QB that can run his offense. I have not seen this type of chaos in the program since Frank Cignetti was coach back in the seventies. The fourteenth winniest program in the history of division one football can do better than this. Luck my be a genius, be he blew it big time here. I loved him as our quarterback but I don't see him doing a very good job as AD director right now. So you can send them both packing as far as I am concerned. Kansas, we lost to Kansas, coached by the fat boy Weis who could not win a big 12 game in 27 tries, until it ran into the (sarcasm here) well coached WVU team. If you doubt the talent how did we beat Oklahoma State???? I am sure the OSU fans are wondering the same thing. I love the Mountaineers and will always be a fan, but Hologorson is not the man, he is a confused, overwhelmed, spoiled brat. We can do better than that.

  • Frank Boso

    Holgorsen and Luck..............the death duo of WVU football and possibly the entire athletic program.
    The "deal with the devil in the BIG 12" is a total disaster.

    WVU Class of 1969

  • Louie

    I totally agree. I remember when Rich Rod was hired. It was very painful his first three years, but after that he got things rolling and almost got WV to the National Title Game. Holgorsen should be given at least 2 more years.

  • GREMO

    I think we have one of the best AD's in the country and the fact Texas wanted him proves that. The fact Texas went with someone else with pretty much the same resume with one exception - wins in basketball and football - shows what it is all about. Basketball should right itself under Huggins. No one is worried because he is a proven winner as a head coach.
    Had Stewart and Holgerson kept their ego's in check Ollie's plan would have worked much better. But that didn't happen - lessons learned all around.
    Here is my issue, Holgerson has proven to be a great offensive coordinator. He has not proven to be a great head coach...yet.. There is a world of difference in any business between being the head of one part of a company and being the CEO. WVU was in a sinking conference and no quality head coach would have wanted to risk a career going into a team in a conference that may have ended up on the outside looking in. (see Cincinnati and UConn) Don't say hindsight to that,, everyone knew the Big East was in trouble because the basketball schools were preventing the conference from doing what it needed to do in football.. So at that point Holgerson was our best choice. Can he make the transition from division head to CEO? Too early to tell. He did put together a pretty awesome recruiting class, thats a good start. We are in the Big 12 with wide open offenses and parody top to bottom more so than any other Conference. The bottom dwellers in the other conferences, including the SEC could not match up to WVU historically or now. Can you see KY having a shot at beating Alabama. Which BIg 12 bottom dweller this year beat the conference king for now? (WVU vs OSU ring a bell?) HOWEVER, unlike the other Big 12 teams, we have the whole Eastern Seaboard to get the top QB's and WR. We are recruiting against the ACC and Big TEN - They need quarterback and WR and running backs as well but those kids know to really shine you need to be in the Big 12. SO we have a leg up because unlike other Big 12 teams we can keep them closer to home - when your 18 that does matter.
    SO be patient, if we drop Holgerson now we will not be able to recruit a top notch proven head coach because a good proven head coach knows it will take more than three years to get a shot with his own recruits to fit his idea of the best offensive and defensive scheme. I say two more years. Hoglerson will have learned from mistakes and we will be at the top of the Big 12 OR we will be able to go out and recruit a top notch, up and coming coach with a proven HEAD Coaching experience.
    EIther way our future looks much brighter than it did when Ollie took over and that is because Ollie took over. Thank you Mr Luck

  • Bruce

    He doesn't deserve more time because these QBs are his hand picked guys. They don't gave the skills to be effective in a game at live action speed.