The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 25, 2013

Holgorsen explains his decisions at quarterback

MORGANTOWN — I asked a couple questions at Dana Holgorsen’s weekly press conference on Tuesday in Milan Puskar Center.

West Virginia’s young third-year head football coach had a ready reply for a guy who’s been reporting on Mountaineer sports events for 68 years.

My first question was why has Clint Trickett, the Florida State transfer with the most actual previous game experience, has been given just six snaps in a game (the season opener) with a third of the 2013 campaign already behind us?

Holgorsen’s reply was: “Because I evaluate our quarterbacks every day AND YOU DON’T!”

I then asked Holgorsen, who’s paid $2.3 million plus incentives annually, why he recruited Trickett, a Morgantown area native with a college degree.

His response was, “I have 120 players on the team. You never know what the finished product is going to be.”

But he hastened to add that, “I’ve got complete confidence in our guys, offensively, and we will work hard in preparation for Saturday’s noon game against Oklahoma State (3-0, ranked No. 11 in the polls).”

I asked those two questions (which I thought were certainly fair) because a growing number of TV viewers felt it was a mistake not to change quarterbacks at halftime in both the then-still-winnable 16-7 Big 12 loss at Oklahoma and last Saturday’s totally unacceptable 37-0 embarrassing blowout by Maryland (a 6-point favorite) in Baltimore.

After the defeat at Oklahoma, Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson reportedly told the media they talked about replacing junior Paul Millard, the game’s starting QB, but decided against that.

Holgorsen continues to be quoted as saying the miserable ineptness against Maryland was 100 percent his fault.

However, there are people that suspect — if not think — that it goes back to bad recruiting as well as coaching.

Incidentally, you may recall that Coach Holgorsen opened his fall training camp to the media representatives for just the first 30 minutes on only five of the Mountaineers’ 15 days of practice. And I’m told there was only brief scrimmaging open to them one day.

How can anyone gain any idea of how that team would fair in the upcoming season?

His predecessors always allowed reporters to see fall preseason and spring scrimmages. That way, each observer could leave with his own feeling of how good — or bad — he or she thought it might be.

This is a much different era in college football, though. And this old guy blames those presidents of the best known, biggest football powers for allowing it to get out of control financially.

Million dollar annual contracts and 10-man coaching staffs (plus graduate assistants) were mere dreams back in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and as recent as the 70s and early 80s.

If memory serves, the late Gentleman Gene Corum’s meager salary was about $15,000 a year when he gave up the head football coach’s position in 1965. And he also taught a class in physical education.

What’s more, you could count the number of his assistants on the fingers of one hand.

Times have changed greatly, and in my opinion not nearly all for the better..

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