The state of Mountaineer Football and its future will be changed for better or worse in the next 48 hours.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen is talking with the University of Houston about the Cougars’ head coaching vacancy, meaning West Virginia will have to make decision.
Where do we go from here?
First, Holgorsen leaving would be better for the school financially than it would to keep him. If he made it to the final year of his contract, his $4 million salary would rank in the top-25 for all division one coaches. For most fans, and athletic director Shane Lyons, Holgorsen has yet to prove he’s worth that type of money. Along with that, if Holgorsen rides away to Houston on or after January 1st, West Virginia would be owed $1 million to buyout his contract.
Odds are Lyons would be happy to let him walk. Holgorsen wasn’t his hire and has been underwhelmed with how things have shaken out while Dana has been in charge. Lyons has spearheaded several multi-million dollar improvements to nearly every athletic facility on campus and the growing feeling is that Lyons wants better returns on his investments.
If Dana leaves, what is West Virginia’s next move?
There are two candidates that seem to make the most logical sense. The first is Troy head coach Neal Brown. Brown has been an excellent coach during his tenure with the Trojans, obtaining a 31-8 record over the past three seasons and three bowl wins. Brown’s offensive philosophy would also fit well with the talent and roster already at West Virginia. Brown played football at the University of Kentucky under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and served as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2010-2012. Financially, it makes even more sense to pursue Brown. His buyout hovers around the $3 million mark but the $1 million West Virginia would receive if Dana leaves would offset a portion of that cost. Contract wise, Lyons could get away with offering Brown a lesser contract than what Holgorsen had and save even more long-term money.
The second name you can expect to hear is Dan Enos, the associate head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Once upon a time, Lyons was the Deputy Director of Athletics at Alabama, which means he may use his connections to get to Enos. Before joining Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Enos was the head coach of Central Michigan from 2010-2014, compiling a 26-36 record and only one bowl win. Obviously, Alabama has championed incredible successes, but how much of that would come with Enos?
The verdict is still out on Shane Lyons and his legacy at West Virginia. Making the right hire for Dana’s replacement would certainly help.