The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 20, 2011

Inside the mind of WVU’s Holgorsen

West Virginia offensive coordinator — and head coach in waiting — Dana Holgorsen is definitely a dual cell phone kind of guy.

As is the case with most coaches, the business phone is worked to a frazzle.

“The school gives us a cell phone,” Holgorsen said Thursday at the Mountaineer Caravan stop at The Resort at Glade Springs. “And we make calls on it all the time. And at the end of the month, you have to sign (cell phone sheets) to make sure all your calls are business related. Well, of course they are. Everything you do is business related.”

That must make it kind of hard to call up a lady or something.

“That’s why you’ve got the other phone,” Holgorsen said, laughing.

Don’t think he has an iPod on that phone, or any other bothersome attachment. He’s the consummate coach.

“Just a little John Denver,” Holgorsen said.

Peer into the mind of the offensive guru, and you are likely to find a football field. Or a chalkboard. Or a playbook.

You could imagine Holgorsen, as a kid, on the sandlot with stick in hand, drawing up a play in the dirt.

Not really.

“I came from a small town  in Iowa (Mount Pleasant), and football wasn’t exactly the Green Bay Packers,” Holgorsen said.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do until I was a senior in college. Once I was a senior, the guy I was playing for (at Iowa Wesleyan College) was Hal Mumme. And Mike Leach was on his staff as well. I kinda liked what they were doing, so I decided to give this thing a whirl.”

Whirl being the operative word, illustrated by the Gold and Blue in the spring game last month.

Considered an offensive genius, it’s hard to imagine the coach doing anything else.

What could have been a potential career path?

“I don’t know,” Holgorsen said. “I really don’t. I grew up in the cornfields of Iowa. I was picking tassels in Iowa growing up. My dad owned a parts store. I didn’t know. Fortunately, I got around these guys and liked what they did. Once I graduated college, I called them, and they hired me. That’s what I’ve done since.”

Being around a parts man growing up didn’t exactly rub off on the son in this case.

“I can’t fix anything,” Holgorsen said. “Nothing. I have never had any interest in that whatsoever. He always fixed everything. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

But he does know how to fix an offense.

After being elevated to OC at Texas Tech, his team increased its offensive production by more than 200 yards.

At Houston, his team led the nation in offense in 2009.

He then went to Oklahoma, and his team went from 61st nationally to No. 1.

You have to wonder how his offense would translate to the NFL. He’s considered the query.

“A little bit,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t have a lot of experience with it. Obviously, I didn’t play at that level, and I have never coached at that level. It’s something I’m intrigued by, but I can’t tell you that I’d like to do it. I don’t know all the ends and outs. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’d probably like it. But I don’t know much about it so I don’t know if that’s in my future or not.”

If you need to know just how deep rooted football is, ask him who the most famous person from Iowa is. I might have speculated the fictional Radar O’Rielly from the 1970s sitcom M*A*S*H. Not Holgorsen.

“Hayden Fry is a guy I admired growing up,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a Texas guy who came to Iowa and turned the program around. He was the head coach there for a long time. I used to drive up the road 40 miles to go to Iowa football games. I thought it was really cool. He was a guy I really looked up to.”

The coolest thing about growing up in Iowa?

“Going to University of Iowa football games,” Holgorsen said. “It wasn’t picking tassels in the cornfields. It wasn’t fun. Your hands were all blistered up. It paid the bills though.”

Dude doesn’t even listen to the radio when he is traveling around the state.

“I’m usually on the phone,” Holgorsen said. “It’s kinda hard to listen to the radio and talk on the phone at the same time.”

Just a guess, but I’m assuming he means the business phone.

— E-mail: demorrison@register-herald.com

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