clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dana Holgorsen: A GBH Primer.

Why is the West Virginia coach our collective spirit animal? We profile the mulleted master of Morgantown.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen reacts to the end of happy hour at a Morgantown Applebee's.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen reacts to the end of happy hour at a Morgantown Applebee's.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Less than two weeks from kickoff, a significant portion of the A&M fanbase might be wondering why, exactly, A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and the West Virginia head coach are trolling one another on twitter.

Better yet, why are so many college football fans obsessed with a coach that, in his only head coaching stint to date, has led a middling Big XII team to an overall 28-22 record in his three years at the helm? We opened the email account, and after receiving an offer for a free night at the Winstar, and a craigslist 'strictly platonic' inquiry, decided to make up the following questions for journalistic purposes.

Q: Who is this guy?

GBH: Holgorsen got his start coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers at Valdosta State under the godfather of the spread offense, Hal Mumme, who happened to employ Mike Leach as his offensive coordinator at the time.  (Notable Blazer alumni include Nancy Grace, proving that the less known about Valdosta State, the better.)

Q: Why does everyone at A&M seem to know him?

GBH: Well, after being hired by the dread Pirate Leach to help run his offense in Lubbock, the Red Raiders put up 56, 31, and 35 on the Aggies under Holgorsen's tutelage.  In 2008, Holgo was hired away from Tech to Houston by new head coach Kevin Sumlin, making it a very small world indeed.

Q: Wait, Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen coached together?

GBH: ‘Wait’ isn’t a very good way to begin a sentence, but, yes: Dana was Sumlin’s offensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009, where he set fire to Conference USA, producing the #3 and #1 offenses in the country in back to back seasons. Spavital was a GA at Houston in 2009 and followed Holgorsen to his next two stops before taking the A&M job in 2013.

Q: Then he went to West Virginia?

GBH: Actually, no.  Holgorsen was first hired away by Mike Gundy at Oklahoma St., ostensibly with T. Boone Pickens holding Pistol Pete to Gundy’s temple.  In his one year running the Cowboys offense, Holgo took Oklahoma St. from 61st to number 1 in the country in total offense, obliterating the Cowboys record book. There were also persistent rumors of his bachelor apartment living, his rather lackadaisical hours, and general malfeasance towards authority.

It’s also the year this video came out, in which a clearly hungover, un-shaven Holgorsen diagrams a play he called double digit times in a rout of Baylor.


Q: Oh, so that’s when he was hired as head coach of West Virginia?

GBH: Funny you should ask.  Holgorsen was actually hired as the offensive coordinator and "head-coach-in-waiting".  Special teams coach and West Virginia native son Bill Stewart had been promoted to head coach after Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan, yet Athletic Director Oliver Luck saw fit to force Stewart’s hand with the hiring of Holgorsen.

Stewart felt so undermined that he actually reached out to a reporter at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and asked him to dig up dirt on Holgoersen.  Little did Stewart know, he only needed nature to take her course, as Holgo was escorted out of a casino at 3am within three months of arriving in Morgantown.  (Key takeaway from the ESPN article: Holgorsen left the casino and sat on a bench outside to wait for a taxi. Holgorsen showed up for a school golf function the next morning.)

Proving himself an arbiter on the level of King Solomon, Luck used the subsequent casino/smear campaign fallout to rid himself of Stewart and promoted Holgorsen to head coach on June 10, 2011. Doubling down (if you will) that being forcibly removed from a gambling establishment may be seen as wise career advancement, Dana spent his first season as head coach winning the Big East Conference and spanking the pants off of a bewildered Dabo Swinney in the Orange Bowl, 70-33.

Q: So, he’s been on a magical winning streak ever since?

GBH: Um, his subsequent three years have seen him compile an 18-19 overall record, but his offenses have remained frightening as luminaries such as Tavon Austin, Geno Smith, and Kevin White have terrorized collegiate defenses.

Q: Anything else that might endear him to me?

GBH: His hair remains among the most beautiful sights in the known universe, as is his resemblance to Big Ern McCracken.

Also, he drinks copious amounts of Red Bull, often during games, but occasionally just to get practice going.  In addition, he has very little use for special teams, to the point that he's not completely sure who his kickers are.

Finally, if you are above 18, and can handle temptation, team catlab wants you to know they feel the same way about Dana Holgorsen that you do.

Bottoms up old friend.