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Why WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen is Not the Problem



West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen has come under criticism from a number of people on campus following the Mountaineers’ fourth consecutive loss on Saturday.

While some of this criticism may be warranted, a lot of it is just plain ridiculous.

Some folks want Holgorsen out, blaming him alone for the losses over this season. Others fault him directly for the number of players that have already left the team. (Ivan McCartney and Travares Copeland.)

As a head coach, one receives all the glory when things are going well, and all of the blame when things are going badly. Before you wish Holgorsen away from Morgantown, let’s examine why losing him would be a big mistake.

1. Dana Holgorsen is an offensive genius.

With the Oklahoma State Cowboys, as an offensive coordinator in 2010, Holgorsen took the 61st ranked offense in the country to number one. He had the number two passing offense and the number three scoring offense.

Even with the slump the Mountaineer offense is currently in, Holgorsen has put together the 18th best offense in yards per game, and the 15th best passing offense. There is no one better to coach an offense in college football than Holgorsen. The defense will come with time.

2. Holgorsen is a young coach, who is only going to get better.

Everyone seems to forget that coach Holgorsen was not supposed to be the head coach of the Mountaineers until this season. After Bill Stewart was released by the team amidst a scandal, Holgorsen took the team a year early.

After taking the reins, Holgorsen was blown out by the Syracuse Orange in Syracuse, and later lost to the Louisville Cardinals in Morgantown.

I distinctly remember after the Syracuse loss, and more-so after the Louisville loss, a number of people (myself included) wanting Bill Stewart back. People were saying Holgorsen was not fit to run the team, questioning his play calling and decision-making.

Then, all of the sudden, the Mountaineers won some games, and made it to the Orange Bowl. Suddenly, Mountaineer fans loved Holgorsen! He was a genius! After destroying the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl, WVU fans were high with excitement and love for Holgorsen.

Now that the team is losing again, fans are once again blaming Holgorsen. The point I’m trying to make here is that there will be ups and downs in a coaching career, especially a young coaching career.

Holgorsen understands the game of football very well. He is exceptional at drawing up offensive plays and leading the offense to success. He is still learning the defensive and special teams’ side of the ball.

The biggest thing Holgorsen needs to, and will learn, is how to manage and lead the entire team. Once he grasps this, he will be a great coach.

3. The 2012 Mountaineers are/were overrated.

As the season developed, it became clear that the big wins the team had at the beginning of the year came against relatively weak opponents. As soon as the team faced good defense, the offense became average.

To blame Holgorsen for “the collapse” of the 2012 Mountaineers is just unfair. There are far too many freshmen on this team, trying to learn to play in a very tough conference. They handled the weak teams they faced early in the season, but when push came to shove, they folded.

This is out of coach Holgorsen’s control. If the team does not have the talent required to perform at a high level of success, then he can’t be expected to obtain that success. Sure, he has offensive weapons, but his defense was frankly not good enough to contain, or even slow down, the offenses in the Big XII.

Also, a lot of the specifics of defense and offense are credited to the defensive and offensive coordinators.

I’ve heard people questioning Holgorsen’s play calling on offense. I agree with the fact that there has been some questionable offensive play calling, however, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson calls the offensive plays, not Holgorsen. A lot of the defensive issues can be credited to Joe Deforest and Keith Patterson.

Now I’m not saying that Holgorsen is completely innocent either. Holgorsen still has a lot to learn as a head coach, but I don’t think he is responsible for everything he is being blamed for.

I heard someone recently say that running Holgorsen off would be as big of a mistake as when the Mountaineer fans wanted the Florida State Seminoles legend coach Bobby Bowden out as well, when he went 6-5 in 1973 and 4-7 in 1974 for the Mountaineers. He then went 9-3 in 1975 before he left for FSU, much to the Mountaineer fans’ delight. Unfortunately for these same fans, Bowden became one of the greatest coaches of all time.

I agree with this comparison. So as a fan, it may be time to just bite your tongue for just a few more years, ride out the growing seasons and wait for Holgorsen to become the great coach he has the potential to be.

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS or visit his author page.