WVU Turns the Page To The Holgorsen Era

MORGANTOWN – Now that WVU has flipped the page on its tumultuous coaching situation, with the coach-in-waiting no longer waiting, it’s time to look ahead to the Dana Holgorsen Era, which officially began at 9 p.m. Friday.

(By the way, does WVU ever hire a football coach during normal business hours?)

The first thought is, suddenly, there’s even more pressure for Holgorsen to succeed, probably more than anyone should, or could, handle.

But that’s from the outside.

It’s unlikely Holgorsen has changed any of his own expectations in the last 48 hours, considering how high they must have been anyway. He was brought in to replace a man who was still on the job because the boss didn’t think the first guy was getting it done.

That’s pressure, folks.

To conquer it, Holgorsen must simply do what he’s done at previous stops, which is move the football with almost unequaled parallel throughout his career.

Check back at the total offense leaders in the Football Bowl Subdivision the last few years. Holgorsen coached them.

He coached a quarterback, Houston’s Case Keenum, that led the nation in total offense two straight years, averaging 403 and 416 yards per game. And he wasn’t even the first quarterback Holgorsen oversaw to do that.

Oklahoma State’s offense was fairly pedestrian in 2009, ranking 61st nationally. In 2010, Holgorsen’s only season in Stillwater, Okla., the Cougars jumped to No. 3 in the land, averaging a robust 520 yards per game – 345.9 passing. The team averaged 44.2 points per game.

These are video game numbers, produced by a guy who was a kid during the Atari years.

For his work, he became a finalist for the 2010 Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant football coach and a red-hot candidate to be a head coach somewhere.

That a coach with a resume like that wound up in the Big East – and didn’t leave it as so many ”hot” coaches have – suggests his hiring is something of a coup for WVU Athletics Director Oliver Luck (bet he hasn’t heard that in a while).

Despite all of the fumbling and bumbling since that day, it still has the very real chance to.

And it could be immediate.

The total offense leader in the Big East last season was Cincinnati at 417.33 yards per game more than a football field behind Holgorsen’s offense. The best passing offense in the Big East last season was also the Bearcats at 260.67 yards per game. And scoring offense? The Bearcats led the Big East in that too, averaging two touchdowns and a field goal less than the Cowboys at 27 points per game.

Match those numbers – or even 80 percent of them – with even a slight increase in Jeff Casteel’s defensive numbers and there’s no longer a Big East team with four losses playing in a BCS game.

Simply put, Holgorsen’s teams move the ball. Even in a small sample in Morgantown – the Gold-Blue game – the offense surpassed 80 points. The only real problem might be that Holgorsen moves almost as much as his offenses.

West Virginia is his fourth stop in the last six years, and his seventh overall since his career began in 1993 at Valdosta State.

You had to like what he said Friday, talking about how he was a young boy growing up in Iowa and how a job like West Virginia seemed unattainable.

He called it the chance of a lifetime.

Let’s hope, assuming the numbers are on par with his career line, he still feels that way in a few years.

Football coaching changes at WVU just simply aren’t fun.

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: elliott@theintelligencer.net