Column - Luck made right choice with Holgorsen
Published: Monday, January 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012 23:01
The West Virginia Mountaineers are the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl champions.
Who would have said that at this time last year? Probably no one.
Well, you can thank WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck for hiring Dana Holgorsen. You could even credit Bill Stewart for basically forcing his own way out of a job. But, it was Luck who hired Holgorsen to coach next season even if Stewart had not done what he did.
Boy, did that decision pay off! Holgorsen brought in an exciting offense, based on a system of complex passing, but was able to break it down for the players to a science.
There were some ups and downs throughout this first year with Holgorsen at the helm, but the state of West Virginia can now say it was well worth it.
Holgorsen got the Mountaineers to 10 wins on the season, something Bill Stewart never did in his three years as head coach. His team scored 70 points in a BCS bowl game. The highest total in the Stewart era was 49 ponits, which WVU matched in the first half of the Orange Bowl. Stewart only eclipsed 40 points three times in his three-year tenure, including the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. Holgorsen did it five times this season, including the Orange Bowl.
I had my doubts whether Holgorsen would be able to handle the full duties of being a head coach, considering how much time he puts into his offensive schemes and working to perfect his system.
But, he proved me wrong. He gave the team energy and got on the players halfway through the season to show more enthusiasm on the field, sidelines, in practice and off of the field. They bought into everything, and that took them to another level.
The offense gradually improved every week to where they were in the bowl game, to the point that junior quarterback Geno Smith can look at Holgorsen and each knows exactly what the other is thinking – something Holgorsen said is critical to executing the offense at the right pace.
The defense played leaps and bounds better in the last month of the season, saving probably its best game for Clemson's high-scoring offense and shutting down freshman phenom Sammy Watkins.
Holgorsen is young enough to set all-new school records here at West Virginia, something already started this season, as under his guidance Smith broke several offensive school records throughout the year.
It's clear that Holgorsen is appealing many players, and he should be with this type of explosive offense and reputation. He definitely helped his chances of landing several top recruits with his team's performance last Wednesday in Miami.
Having great chemistry with the players is crucial to having success as a head coach – Holgorsen has his players on his bandwagon, and they're not getting off anytime soon.
Luck knew what he was doing when he hired the offensive genius, and it paid off in a huge way. Imagine what the offense would have looked like with Stewart holding the reins this year. Would it have put up 533 yards and 21 points against No. 1 LSU? I don't think so. Averaged 37.6 points per game? No way. Would Smith have thrown 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns? Absolutely not.
Luck and Mr. Red Bull, as I like to call Holgorsen now, have the Mountaineers headed in the right direction for years to come.
Holgorsen hasn't even reached the pinnacle of what his offensive system can do at West Virginia, nor with his head coaching abilities.
Hopefully he stays long enough to give the fans
something they've been waiting for since the program began many decades ago.