MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was recruiting Thursday when a story radiating from Lubbock claimed he had sought, and been turned down, for the job at Texas Tech.
This report sounded dubious to West Virginia athletics director Shane Lyons, who has spoken with Holgorsen several times since the Mountaineers’ regular season ended with a gut-punch 59-56 loss to Oklahoma.
“I think Dana and I have a good enough relationship, that if he was looking at another job or wanted to go elsewhere, we would have that conversation,” Lyons said. “My conversation with him is that he still feels there’s work that needs to be done here, there’s growth here, and there’s a lot more that we can achieve here.”
The report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, anonymously sourced, claimed Holgorsen wanted to replace the recently fired Kliff Kingsbury but Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt declined to interview him.
A clause in Holgorsen’s WVU contract demands he notify Lyons before he or his “agents or representatives begin any discussions about other coaching positions.”
Lyons said he has not received such notification, adding that recent “man-to-man, boss-to-coach talks with Dana made me think we’re in a good spot” as far as trusting one another.
“It needs to be made clear: In my conversations with him, he’s telling me he wants to be at West Virginia University,” Lyons said. “He has not wavered. He says he wants to be here.”
“It needs to be made clear: In my conversations with him, he’s telling me he wants to be at West Virginia University. He has not wavered. He says he wants to be here.” — West Virginia AD Shane Lyons
Nearing the end of his eighth season at West Virginia, Holgorsen owns a 61-40 record. His tenure as an assistant at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2007 stoked speculation that a reunion might be forthcoming.
Multiple outlets reported Thursday that the Red Raiders had settled on Matt Wells, whose six-year record at Utah State was 44-34.
Coaching industry sources told MetroNews the flap over Holgorsen might stem from in-fighting boosters at Texas Tech who are simultaneously pushing for a splashier hire such as Holgorsen, Mike Leach or even Art Briles.
The Mountaineers (8-3), currently No. 16 in the CFP rankings, narrowly missed a Big 12 Championship game berth with losses to Oklahoma State and the Sooners.
Holgorsen has three seasons left on a contract scheduled to pay him $3.7 million next year, $3.8 million in 2020 and $4 million in 2021.
“We’re heading in the right direction — competition-wise, academic, community, to players not getting in trouble,” Lyons said. “There’s a lot of positives that are going on. Dana wants to be part of the solution, and my job as AD is to help him. So let’s go and get some wins and play for the big trophy. That’s our ultimate goal.”