Dana Holgorsen has not had a very good year in his first season at Houston. The numerous reasons for him being named our “Worst Coach of the 2019 Season” will be outlined below and have led him to be #9 ranked on the coaches on the hot seat list (https://coacheshotseat.com/) after only one season at his new job.
First and foremost, wins and losses in college football are all that matters. The Houston Cougars had high hopes coming into Holgorsen’s first season with talented, Heisman Trophy dark horse quarterback D’Eriq King leading the way as a Senior. What unfolded instead was a disappointing collage of embarrassing moments on and off the field en route to a 4-8 overall record and 2-6 in the underwhelming American Athletic Conference.
Asking Players to Redshirt
After an incredibly poor start to the season, Holgorsen, in an unprecedented move in college football, asked several of his key players to redshirt this season and return for one more season, essentially abandoning all hopes for the current season. Holgorsen was attempting to take advantage of college football’s 4 game redshirt rule that will allow a player to play in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility.
Starting quarterback and Heisman hopeful D’Eriq King decided to take Holgorsen’s advice and redshirted following Houston’s fourth game of the season, saying, “I came here to play football for the University of Houston and that’s not changing. After carefully thinking through this process with my family and Coach Holgorsen, I have decided the opportunity to redshirt this season gives me the best chance to develop as a player, earn my degree and set me up for the best success in the future. I’m looking forward to being a part of the success of this program going forward.”
King will likely not return to the Houston program. Don’t be surprised to see him as the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners next season.
More recently, Justin Murphy, a (former) offensive guard for the Houston Cougars, claimed to be suspended from the team by Holgorsen for “being a distraction and not committed to the team.” Murphy went on to claim that Holgorsen “actively tanked” and gave up on this season.
While Murphy’s blunt language is shocking, how could Holgorsen deny that he did in fact “tank” this season in order to be better prepared for next season? Tanking a season after 4 games in college football is completely unheard of and Holgorsen blatantly and openly gave up on not only this season but the players on his team.
This, of course, was met with harsh criticism from many people but particularly those who were most affected by it, like Justin Murphy, who was a Redshirt Senior playing major college football for the last time in his life. Holgorsen’s selfishness negatively impacted many people but players like Murphy in particular.
Numerous Blowups on the Sidelines
Holgorsen spent most of his time on the sidelines this season screaming and cussing at either referees or his own players. During an AAC showdown against UConn, Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen came unglued, shouting out expletives. This particular moment was captured on camera.
Poor Recruiting Results
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.
Holgorsen is already on a short leash
Holgorsen’s 5 year $20 million contract makes things complicated for Houston, but remember, Renu Khator, the University of Houston’s President, once said, “Winning is defined at University of Houston as 10 and 2. We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4.”
The University of Houston has big expectations and they want to win now. Not only will Holgorsen lead Houston to its first losing season since 2012, he has also embarrassed the university over and over again. While leaving West Virginia for his “home” in Houston seemed like a perfect situation for Holgorsen, it will likely end in a disastrous way either during the season next year or after another disappointing season for the Cougars.