Thursday, January 3, 2019

Houston hires Dana Holgorsen

Lots of things happening today with a few passings that will be saved for down the road, but the big news is Houston hiring a new football coach as the Cougars lured Dana Holgorsen away from West Virginia with a five-year contract worth twenty million over the course of the agreement.

Holgorsen was receiving 3.7 million last season in Morgantown with each of the next three seasons adding $100,000 to his yearly sum, which would end with four million for the 2021 season, which is the exact number that Holgorsen will earn in Houston.
This might be the first time that I can ever remember a coach voluntarily moving from a Power Five school to a Group of Five school, voluntarily being the key word, as coaches have been fired from one and were hired at a G-5 university, but this is a special case as Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator for the Cougars under Kevin Sumlin, still owns a home there and his three sons from a previous marriage still reside there, so Houston was a situation that no one else could offer.

Houston badly wants to join a power five league (Most likely the Big 12, but don't rule out the SEC, who could likely add a second Texas team on the inevitable day that league moves to sixteen teams) and has a powerful booster that is willing to fund the program's building its way to that level.
Tilman Fertitta not only owns the Landry's restaurant organization, but he also owns the Golden Nugget casino group and the Houston Rockets and sits on the university's board of regents, so this is no lightweight spender as Fertitta showed with a twenty million dollar donation to rebuild Hofheinz Pavilion, the basketball home for the Cougars since 1967 and now renamed Fertitta Center.

Houston famously crowed a few years back that they "Fire coaches for going 8-4" and Major Applewhite produced seasons of  7-5 and 8-5 and was shown the door.
I liked Applewhite as a play caller and a coordinator, but he may have not been ready for a pressure-filled job such as Houston for his first head coaching position.
Some of his decisions in-game just made you wonder if this was the same guy that had such a strong understanding of the offensive game and his blow-up over a sideline coat with Ed Oliver on national television looked terrible to recruits.

Where West Virginia dropped the ball was when Holgorsen's buyout changed.
Had Houston hired Holgorsen immediately after the Armed Forces Bowl disaster against Army, it would have cost them 2.5 million, but Holgorsen's buyout changed on January 1st to a more manageable one million and there was the rib.
Had West Virginia installed that provision to take effect say February or March 1st, they may have held onto Holgorsen (no school will go that long to wait for a coach) or would have at least forced Houston to pay the entire 2.5 million had they wanted Holgorsen bad enough.

The Mountaineers are in a tough spot, they are in the Big 12, thousands of miles from conference foes, play in a state with few top recruits and Morgantown isn't an overwhelmingly attractive place to live for potential coaches.
Honestly, if Houston was able to make the move up to a power five league, the Houston job located in one of the deepest states to recruit in would easily be the equal, if not the better job.
The problem is that there isn't a way out for WVU.
The Big 10 and ACC won't touch them because the school isn't academically at the level of their schools and the SEC likely would rather add a program that would add a strong market or name brand for their eventual expansion.
So, unless they are willing to take the lower dollars of the group of five, it looks like the Big 12 for the Mountaineers-problems and all.

West Virginia is rumored to have four candidates in mind to replace Holgorsen- Troy's Neal Brown, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, Memphis head man Mike Norvell and former Tennessee coach Butch Jones.
Brown or Norvell would run close to the same offense style as Holgorsen, Fickell would likely be able to recruit better in neighboring Ohio and Jones would bring the bigger name.
Two coaches that I haven't seen named that might be on my list would be Arkansas State's Blake Anderson and Toledo's Jason Candle.
Either would be interesting young coaches and would infuse some energy in a program that might be in need of it next season.

No comments: