Winning is the expectation at West Virginia and has been for quite some time. Head coach Dana Holgorsen understands what comes with the territory when you’re the head man at West Virginia.
“The expectations are to win around here. We are the 12th winningest program of all time, so our fan base and our administration expect us to compete,” Holgorsen told The Sporting News.
So what is it that has Holgorsen back on the hot seat? Well, his 27-27 overall record in Big 12 games isn’t helping his case. Neither is his record versus ranked opponents, which currently stands at 8-19 (.296). Although it doesn’t appear to be a job-threatening problem at this point, many fans have continued to voice their displeasure about Holgorsen’s ability to consistently develop incoming high school quarterbacks.
On the other hand, Holgorsen has a ton of star power for 2018 and is coming off one of the program’s best recruiting class. Although the Mountaineers have only come close to finishing in the top two in the league once, they’ve been in the discussion numerous years. During the last few seasons, West Virginia always seemed to be in the hunt at the turn of November.
Holgorsen’s ability to perform under serious pressure may be his best quality. The last time he entered a season on the hot seat (2016), he won 10 games. He even had contract negotiations during the previous offseason, but he bet on himself to have a strong 2016 and come away with a better deal.
This is, without question, Holgorsen’s most talented offensive team. Those who might compare this year’s squad to the 2012 Geno/Stedman/Tavon squad are wrong — that defense was young and inexperienced. This year’s defensive unit, coached by Tony Gibson, should be better and more talented.
Most media outlets project West Virginia to finish in the top two of the conference, while some have the Mountaineers dethroning Oklahoma from the Big 12 crown. The hype surrounding the team only adds to the pressure for Holgorsen to win now.
I don’t believe there is a magic number of games he will need to win to keep his job, but another 7-6 season won’t do it. When the team has a quarterback as talented as Will Grier, it has the opportunity to compete for the Big 12 title.
I’ve been on record numerous times saying that Holgorsen is indeed the right guy for the job. This is the year he can get to the top and prove me right. West Virginia does have a winning tradition, but it’s not that of a true blue-blood. The expectations from the fan base can be a little unrealistic at times; one could even argue that Holgorsen is doing exactly what he should be doing at WVU, particularly when factoring in the unique travel challenges that no one else in his position has faced.
While 2018 may certainly be an exciting year, it could also be one that determines the future of the Mountaineer program. Here’s to a successful 2018 and many seasons after in the Holgorsen era.