The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 18, 2010

Luck has hitched his wagon to football guru

West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck is betting the ranch that he is making the right move by hiring Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to lead the program in the future.

Holgorsen will serve as offensive coordinator next season and then will take over as head coach in 2012.

Interestingly enough, Luck had not met Holgorsen — they both lived and worked in Houston — before deciding he was going to make a change within the football staff. In other words, Holgorsen was not on his radar when he decided that Bill Stewart would be replaced, either after this season or after next.

He admitted as much Thursday when he met with the media.

“Coach Stewart and I met along with coach Stewart’s adviser and our university general counsel on Nov. 14, the Sunday after the Cincinnati game, and at that point coach Stewart was informed that I was not satisfied with the direction of the program and that changes would be made,” Luck said.

Luck still hadn’t met Holgorsen.

That happened nine days later.

“I first met Dana Holgorsen on Nov. 23 ...,” Luck said. “I knew of him, of course, having lived in Houston and following college football. I knew of him before he ever got to the University of Houston, but did not meet him until Nov. 23 of this year.

“I was in Kansas City for the induction of Jerry West into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and made the side trip a little bit south and west to visit him. I made a trip to visit and talk to a coach who I thought was one of the great offensive coaches in the nation.”

That is when Luck knew he had found his man.

Holgorsen’s resume is impressive. He has excelled at every level he has coached, with high marks.

His last five years look like this, as far as the offensive national rankings go:

2010 as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State: first it total offense (538), second in pass offense (355) and third in scoring (44.9 ppg).

2009 as offensive coordinator at Houston: first in total offense (563.4), first in pass offense (433.7) and tied for first in scoring (42.2).

2008 as offensive coordinator at Houston: second in total offense (562.8), second in passing offense (401.6) and 18th in scoring (40.6).

2007 as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech: second in total offense (529.6), first in passing offense (470.3) and seventh in scoring (40.7).

2006 as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech: sixth in total offense (447.9), third in passing offense (369.5) and 13th in scoring (332.4).

Luck was well aware of them, and envisions it happening at WVU.

“He took over an offense that was 61st in the nation in total yards, and had a first-year quarterback, a young man named Brandon Weeden,” Luck said of Holgorsen’s 2010 numbers at OSU. “He finished the season No. 1 in total offense and moved up 60 spots in the national rankings. The statistic that I find amazing is that his quarterback, Brandon Weeden, and one of his running backs, Kendall Hunter, along with Justin Blackmon (the Biletnikoff award winner), became only the second trio in NCAA history to pass for at least 3,000 yards, run for more than 1,500 yards and have a receiver that caught passes worth more than 1,500 yards receiving in the same season.

“I think for our players, Geno (Smith), Tavon (Austin), Brad Starks and Shawne Alston, I think they should be very excited about what kind of an offense they will be playing in come next season. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

Indeed.

Luck is banking on just that fact.

And to his credit, Holgorsen has not failed in piling up the numbers.

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