Soon after leaving Morgantown for Houston, former West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgorsen made the now infamous pronouncement: “We weren’t going to get high school kids at West Virginia that we were going to win the Big 12 with.”
Holgorsen’s excuse for not being able to beat Oklahoma, for not being able to win the Big 12 Conference Championship with, for virtually all of his failures at West Virginia University, was the lack of recruiting opportunities available at WVU. This from the same coach who failed to recruit the best football prospect in the state in over a decade (5 star eventual Tennessee commit Darnell Wright) and ignored All-American Kenneth Murray, who “only ever wanted to be a Mountaineer” and eventually ended up playing for the Oklahoma Sooners and being one of the best defensive players in the Big 12 Conference.
Dana Holgorsen is not a good recruiter. In fact, he’s a poor recruiter. While Neal Brown and his coaching staff celebrate an outstanding class – featuring four star cornerback David Vincent-Okoli, defensive lineman Sean Martin, who is the top recruit in the state of West Virginia in this class, the Mountaineers’ quarterback of the future in Garrett Greene, big-time offensive lineman recruit Chris Mayo, as well as surprise commits Sam Brown, a highly coveted wide receiver, and Akheem Mesidor, a defensive end with the ability to step in and contribute immediately – Dana Holgorsen’s first real recruiting class at Houston can only be described as disappointing.
Following an atrocious 4-8 season (2-6 in conference), Houston fans are likely looking to the future for hope. However, the team is currently ranked 81st in the country in 2020 national recruiting class rankings and (perhaps even worse) 7th out of 12 teams in the American Athletic Conference. To compare, the Cougars were ranked 72nd overall and 4th in the conference in the previous year. These are not numbers that inspire hope or positive expectations for a program hungry for a winner.
Remember, Renu Khator, Houston’s President, told faculty and staff at an annual holiday party at her home a few years ago, “Winning is defined at University of Houston as 10 and 2. We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4.”
A 4-8 season, combined with multiple embarrassing moments for the football program in Holgorsen’s first season and a disappointing initial recruiting class, does not bode well for the former West Virginia Head Coach. Neal Brown had a tough first season, but he handled himself with total class and has landed the 36th ranked recruiting class nationally and 4th in the Big 12 Conference.
Dana Holgorsen leaving Morgantown for Houston was the best thing that could have ever happened to the West Virginia football program and perhaps the worst thing ever for the Houston Cougars.