(Photo by WVU Athletics)
The date was November 3rd, 2018. West Virginia had just taken down the Texas Longhorns in Austin on a Will Grier two-point conversion, 42-41. Dana Holgorsen was the talk of the town, Mountaineer Nation was happy – all was good in the world.
Fast forward just a brief four years later and this script has been flipped COMPLETELY.
West Virginia has just lost to TCU, 41-31, to drop to 3-5 on the season (1-4 Big 12 play). The defense is atrocious, Neal Brown’s seat is blistering hot, and the Mountaineers are one of the worst teams in the Big 12 Conference. We have officially hit “the sky is falling” mode in Morgantown.
So what happened? How did WVU go from firing on all-cylinders to a complete dumpster fire in such a short amount of time? Well, it all began with a decision. One that has proven so costly.
The perfect quote for this situation comes from a movie called “Numb.” It stars Matthew Perry, and follows a man with a little known anxiety disorder called “depersonalization.” One decision completely changed the main character’s life, just as one decision has completely changed the Mountaineer Football program.
“We are a simple action away from complete disaster.” – Matthew Perry (Hudson Milbank)
All the way back in December of 2018, Shane Lyons was left with a decision. Extend Dana Holgorsen (who had just produced an 8-4 season), or risk losing him. Well, Lyons chose not to give Dana his extension.
Holgorsen ends up in Houston, Lyons hires Neal Brown from Troy.
At the time, this seemed like an absolute no-brainer. Despite having the second-most victories as a head coach in WVU history, Holgorsen’s teams could just never seem to get over the hump. Brown’s squads at Troy, on the other hand, had just compiled a record of 31-8 in a three season span. It seemed like a trade that the Mountaineers had won in the earlier days of Brown’s tenure.
Well, it just so happens that the action of Lyons has led to complete disaster.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but extending Dana at the time could have made a huge difference. Instead of the drastic shift in program culture, the continuity would have remained. The players that left would have likely remained (Dana’s players that is), and Holgorsen would have found solid replacements for Grier, Spavital, and Sills. If there is anything he proved during his tenure, it was that he can put an offense together.
As for what we have garnered, it’s not the constant unconquerable humps that always stood firm. No…now those humps have turned into mountains on this so called “climb.” We have went in the opposite direction on these hills of the Big 12 Conference.
And unfortunately for WVU, that wild-haired, RedBull drinking, mic coughing, Dasani hitting offensive mastermind isn’t walking back through the door to fix it. It’s too late to fix what has been broken. The mess has been made, and it has to be fixed.
So to the fans who wished and begged for Holgorsen to go away – how are you feeling now? Did you learn to now be careful what you wish for? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sometimes it looks like a 20-23 overall record including 12-19 in Big 12 play. It can even look like a mass exodus to the transfer portal, topped off by a declining defense that was once outstanding.
I guarantee you that if Dana had never left, this program would be in much better shape than it is right now. I know that, you know that, we all know that.
So as for the next decision this program will have to make, let’s hope it doesn’t further drive in this nail of disaster.
Let’s Go Mountaineers