MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Shannon Dawson, the final holdover from Dana Holgorsen’s original coaching staff at West Virginia in 2011, has agreed to become Kentucky’s offensive coordinator but reportedly plans to coach through the Liberty Bowl.
While the 37-year-old Dawson has served as the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator for three seasons, he essentially has been Holgorsen’s eyes in the booth while the head coach called plays. At Kentucky, Dawson’s gameday role would expand under head coach Mark Stoops, a longtime defensive coordinator, and his salary could more than double the $250,000 he was earning in Morgantown.
Kentucky’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons, Neal Brown, left behind a $550,000 salary this month to become the head coach at Troy.
A source told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Stoops wanted to maintain the “Air Raid” offense Brown operated, making Dawson a strong candidate. In addition to his longstanding ties to Holgorsen, Dawson worked under Air Raid guru Hal Mumme for three seasons at New Mexico State and Southeastern Louisiana.
Kentucky has endured five consecutive losing seasons, though Stoops’ two-year mark of 7-17 has been marked by a surge in recruiting.
Dawson arrived at West Virginia as receivers coach in 2011, when WVU established a single-season program record with more than 4,500 receiving yards. The following year, upon entry into the Big 12, West Virginia ranked ninth nationally in scoring and No. 10 in total offense.
The Mountaineers enter this season’s Liberty Bowl ranked ninth in the FBS in passing (314.6 yards), 11th in total offense (502.1 yards), 36th in scoring (33.2) and 42nd in rushing (187.5)—the last stat providing a crucial resume boost for a coach joining the SEC.
Dawson doubled as quarterbacks coach the past two seasons and has been the lead recruiter on two WVU quarterback commitments for 2015, four-star prospect David Sills and three-star Chris Chugunov.