Dawson has long history with Holgorsen, offense
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011 22:02
When Dana Holgorsen was hired as the West Virginia football team's offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting in December, he knew exactly what his first step would be in filling his offensive staff.
Shannon Dawson, the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin at the time, also knew a call may be coming his way.
"We have talked for 10 years about working together," Dawson said.
So when Holgorsen finally called Dawson and asked, "Are you in?," it didn't take time for the SFA offensive coordinator, who was on a recruiting trip with Stephen F. Austin head coach J.C. Harper at the time, to respond.
"I said, ‘Yea, that's a no brainer,'" Dawson said. "It was a simple answer for me."
Dawson has known Holgorsen since 1999 when Holgorsen was his offensive coordinator at Wingate where Dawson was a quarterback.
"He was a terrible player, just terrible," Holgorsen said jokingly. "He was a smart player, and you could tell that he was going to be a good coach."
Holgorsen left for Texas Tech a year later, but the two remained in contact. Dawson eventually accepted a position as offensive coordinator at SFA. Holgorsen, meanwhile, was at Houston, about an hour away.
The two ran the same offense and frequently talked about offensive strategy. They always wanted to coach on the same staff. But, when Holgorsen took the offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma State, the offensive staff was already intact.
"I told him when I graduated that I wouldn't coach in any other offense," Dawson said. "I won't do it. I'll go into the business world or do something else, because it's not fun (if you're not in this offense).
"I pride myself on the fact that I played in this offense, and I've coached in this offense. I don't know anything else. It's all I know."
In 2006, Dawson became the offensive coordinator at Millsaps College before moving on to Stephen F. Austin.
In his most recent stint with the Lumberjacks, Dawson's offense ranked in the top 10 in total yards per game, passing yards per game and scoring average in both 2009 and 2010.
"I've been trying to hire him for awhile," Holgorsen said. "It just has to be the right fit. He knew it was going to happen, and I knew it, too."
Dawson will coach the inside receivers with the Mountaineers and may be chosen by Holgorsen to take over as offensive coordinator next season.
One challenge Dawson sees in his first season with WVU is the team's lack of depth at the receiver position. The coach said his offense at SFA used at least 14 receivers in six different games last season.
The Mountaineers only used 14 receivers all of last year, eight of whom caught less than 10 passes.
"Our depth here isn't where we want it to be at this point," Dawson said. "Eventually, though, we are going to get it to where we have a good number of inside wide receivers and outside wide receivers.
"Once we start scoring points and everything, recruiting receivers and quarterbacks are not going to be a problem."