Dana Holgorsen has been a successful coach nearly everywhere he has been. Much like everyone on their path to becoming the head coach of a program, he would jump around from place to place, beginning as a QB and Wide Receiver coach at Valdosta State in the mid-1990s. His successes continued, ultimately allowing him to become the Offensive Coordinator in three schools now affiliated with the Big 12: Texas Tech, Houston, and Oklahoma State.
Finally, he got his chance to be the true head coach of a football team as the man to usher us into the changes ahead as the Big East dissolved and we had to make the unwanted (but now wise move) to the Big 12 – shoutout Oliver Luck.
Successes at West Virginia
From 2011-2018, Dana would become the second-most winningest coach in program history with 61 victories to 41 losses, putting together some impressive 10-win seasons and a conference championship in the final year under the Big East banner. So when he decided to jump seemingly backward to coach Houston in a Group of Five conference, the nation was scratching its head.
Headed to Houston
Ultimately, we all learned that they offered him more money than Shane Lyons was willing to pay (ironic considering Brown’s contract extension without merit a couple of years later), and he had connections in the state of Texas. And in the early going, everything seemed to be going great. Well, if you don’t count the seasons starting out where he went 4-8 and then 3-5. The feather in his cap came when the Cougars put together a 12-2 season, losing only to Texas Tech in their opener and Cincinnati, who would go on and make a shameful appearance in the CFP.
They took a step back the next season despite starting the season in the Top 25. The hype about the program was real, and they fell flat to Texas Tech, Kansas, and Tulane in their first five games of the season. Then, the hot seat talk began. Holgorsen was unphased and still is for the most part about all this chatter. He seems to forget that Houston might just now be joining a big boy conference, but they were committed to finding a head coach that would make them sustainably relevant after Tom Herman– getting rid of Major Applewhite after two five-loss seasons without postseason success.
West Virginia’s Role in the Mayhem
So here we are in 2023, and WVU ironically is positioned to be the potential nail in the coffin for the coach who felt that he could not successfully recruit the state of West Virginia with a roster talented enough to make waves in the Big 12. Losing to the Mountaineers at TDECU Stadium on October 12th would be another blow towards Holgorsen’s tenure with the Houston Cougars, dropping their 2023 season and Big 12 debut year to 2-4, including a loss to Rice University.
The Cougars face a three-game gauntlet beginning with WVU on the 12th, followed by Texas and Kansas State. A loss to the Mountaineers could begin a conference loss landslide, taking them firmly out of bowl game contention and making it impossible for the Houston Cougar program to justify this as expected moving into a new conference – they want to be competitive now.
If West Virginia arrives with the chip on their shoulder they have carried into every game this year, the Cougars will have a hard time matching the intensity. Tune in for the visor throwing and hair blowing in the breeze kind of good time. The game airs October 12th at 7 PM on FS1.
Photo Credit: KHOU