The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

September 24, 2013

Mountaineers’ start should be a concern to fans, powers-that-be

MORGANTOWN — Could this 2013 West Virginia University football team be the worst in 53 years?

After just four games, the Mountaineers (2-2) have shown strong signs that the football program here might well be in the poorest shape since 1960. That year’s team remains the only one of modern times to fail to win a game, finishing with an 0-8-2 record.

Ironically, that was coming off the university’s first Golden Era of WVU football under the guidance of Art “Pappy” Lewis. But his recruiting obviously had disseminated in his program’s closing stages of a 10-year tenure.

It did not take Gentleman Gene Corum long to rebuild the program, though.

Since Dana Holgorsen guided WVU to a 10-3 record with the late coach Bill Stewart’s recruits in 2011, the third-year Mountaineer mentor’s success seemingly has diminished steadily.

Even with three of the greatest players in WVU’s 122-year football history, Holgorsen’s 2012 team finished at a sad 7-6 record — and most of the veteran players were recruited by Stewart and his assistant coaches.

Last Saturday, after that most shameful and embarrassing 37-0 shutout by Maryland, in Baltimore, was the first shutout against WVU since a 35-0 loss to Virginia Tech in 2001.

It also was the worst since a 39-0 blanking by Penn State in 1975.

Coach Holgorsen told reporters he accepted “100 percent” of the blame for by far the most inept offensive performance since Athletic Director Oliver Luck hired him, initially as a noted offensive coordinator.

He had no previous experience as a head football coach — not even at the high school level!

In that connection, Holgorsen not only has a base salary of $2.2 million for 2013 but step-ups of $1 million annually in a contract through 2017.

What’s more, the school’s current football coaching staff is clearly the highest paid ever. What’s troubling is can this program get any better — and soon?

West Virginia managed just six first downs and a mere 173 yards in total offense to 17 first downs and 330 yards in total offense by Maryland (4-0), which snapped a seven-game losing streak in that rivalry.

Can anyone recall exactly the last time a WVU offense was so inept?

I can’t.

Holgorsen’s young squad, which now has nine junior college recruits, is 4-8 for its last 12 games, dating back to the wonderful 5-0 season’s start and No. 5 national ranking in 2012.

What followed was the worst collapse a Mountaineer team ever suffered (a 2-6 finish).

Obviously, West Virginia University alumni, supporters and even students must be gravely concerned about the football program’s sad state of affairs at this point in the season.

It ought to be even more troubling to the highly-paid powers-that-be.

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