The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 4, 2013

Luck announces Holgorsen will be retained for 2014

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck put an end to the speculation about the future of head football coach Dana Holgorsen on Tuesday, announcing that he and his staff would be retained for 2014 despite a second consecutive disappointing season.

“I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing,” Luck said in a prepared statement. “In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.”

Luck, however, threw down the gauntlet, saying, “We simply must get better.”

Holgorsen’s contract runs through 2017, but Luck did not address the future beyond next season while admitting he was disappointed with the results this past year that ended with WVU blowing a 31-7 lead over Iowa State.

It would have been difficult to fire Holgorsen at the current time, as WVU President Jim Clements has announced he’s leaving for Clemson at the first of the year and the school is just beginning a search for his replacement. An interim president is expected to be named this week.

Firing Holgorsen also would have cost Luck $11.3 million paid in yearly salary to fire Holgorsen, as there is no buyout in the contract.

Since winning the first five games in 2012 and climbing as high as No. 5 in the national rankings while Geno Smith emerged as the early frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, Holgorsen’s Mountaineers have won but six of 20 games.

This season, a rebuilding year, had some early hope when West Virginia lost by just 16-7 to Oklahoma and upset Oklahoma State, but the season deteriorated rapidly as no one took charge at quarterback and the defense was savaged by injury. The team finished 4-8,

failing to reach a bowl for the first time since 2001, and closed out the year with consecutive losses to Kansas and Iowa State.

“We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field, and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field,” Luck said in a prepared statement released through the athletic department. “Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.”

Holgorsen was said to be out on the road recruiting and unavailable for comment.

West Virginia fans and donors expressed strong, but split, opinions over whether Holgorsen should be given time to see the program through. He inherited the head coaching job from Bill Stewart in a badly handled transition that saw Holgorsen brought in as a coach-in-waiting for a year but given the job when Stewart was accused of trying to undermine Holgorsen.

Not long after losing the job, Stewart died of a heart attack while golfing with former athletic director Ed Pastilong.

Luck made it clear he expects improvement next season and that excuses would not be acceptable: “We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.”

Luck said all the support necessary will be offered to Holgorsen, including in the area of facilities. Holgorsen has called for an upgrade in facilities, including enlarging and modernizing the team meeting room in the Puskar Center, changing the grass practice field to turf and building a new indoor facility to replace an undersized one Holgorsen seldom used.

“Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference,” Luck said.

“We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.”

It appears from that the entire coaching staff, including special teams coach Joe DeForest and coordinators Keith Patterson on defense and Shannon Dawson on offense, are safe.

DeForest was cited earlier this year for potential rules violations while coaching at Oklahoma State and the play of his special teams was spotty throughout the season. Patterson’s defense has been the worst in WVU history over the past two seasons, while Dawson failed to develop a quarterback this year as offensive production fell dramatically from the Geno Smith-Austin-Bailey years.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos