The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 3, 2012

Making a mark

Holgorsen finds a way — his way — during first season


MORGANTOWN — o o o o o

His career started as too many others have ended, with a run-in with the police. It was May and he wasn’t head coach yet.

In truth, it really was much ado about nothing, a 40-year-old man at a casino after a function at which he may have overindulged, but considering the scandals college coaches seem to be getting themselves into these days, it was more a misstep than a freefall.

That would come later, right after Stewart had been dismissed and Holgorsen took over as head coach.

On that day, Holgorsen figuratively was on the edge of a cliff, about to go over ... or at least take a symbolically huge leap into this game of head coaching.

He took a two-day break ... and jumped out of an airplane for the first time ever. Holgorsen was part of a tandem jump with a Golden Eagle parachutist who pulled the rip cord.

“We went up about 10,000 feet and then we jumped out of an airplane,” Holgorsen said then. “It was an amazing view. You could see for miles and miles, just beautiful countryside.

“Then we came in and we were trying to land on a beach, obviously a small beach. It was pretty windy and we came up short and had kind of a crash landing. It resembled something like Bruce Irvin tackling a quarterback.”

He had gone into the season feet first, so to speak, and it took a while for him to learn, mostly in the area of budgeting his time.

As a position coach you have time to ... well, study film most whenever you want. As a head coach there’s media, meetings with players, with the athletic director, with important alumni, public appearances ... things he accepted as part of the job but constantly seemed like a burr under his saddle.

In the end, when the offense stumbled down the stretch, his season was rescued because the defense held firm, coming to the rescue at every key moment as the Mountaineers closed out by beating Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and South Florida down the stretch.

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