Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia to take the Houston head coaching job. It might be historic for a slew of reasons.
For you kids out there, a TV is the thing in one of the rooms in your house with a screen bigger than the one on your phone.
No actor goes from movies to TV unless it’s a must of a career move.
Okay, since several on Twitter didn’t like that – going with the predictably pretentious line of TV now being as good or better than movies – how about this. No big-time actor goes from movies to network TV unless it’s a must of a career move.
Yes, for this little scenario, new Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen is the star.
It’s one of the weirdest coaching moves ever – find the comp?
Find the head coach who 1) was still wanted by his current school, 2) didn’t appear to be interesting in leaving for a lateral move to some place like Texas Tech, and 3) is the comp.
Really, find the college football head coach who willingly chose to leave a Power Five program to take over a Group of Five school’s football team.
Tommy Tuberville is the closest one – going from Texas Tech to Cincinnati in 2013 after having to be the coach who followed Mike Leach – but even that’s not the same.
It’s a money thing. West Virginia didn’t want to pay Holgorsen $4 million a year and give him long term security, and Houston did.
West Virginia was hardly floundering under Holgorsen, and he wasn’t on any sort of a hot seat. He was coming off a great season with a shot at playing for the Big 12 Championship before losing to Oklahoma. There’s a whole lot of promise and potential for the 2019 Mountaineer team and …
Houston was happy to pay for $4 million a year for five seasons.
For Houston, it wasn’t a problem. Major Applewhite was mediocre – his team got hit by Army with 70 points in the bowl loss – and it wants to make a big move to try becoming the star of the American Athletic Conference, like it was under Tom Herman.
But now Holgorsen has to produce.
He was good at West Virginia, but he lost four of his last five bowl games, only finished higher than third in the Big 12 once, and he won more than eight games just one time since the 2011 season when his team took home the Big East title complete with a 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson.
American Athletic titles, bowl wins, high-flying offenses – that’s what’s expected out of the new guy. And with that, to follow, the goal has to be to be ready to hit the ground running if and when the school wants to make yet another push to be a part of the Big 12.
Big 12, it’s time.
UCF is obviously a good enough football program to add to the fun – the recruiting base and Orlando location are terrific. Houston doesn’t check a whole lot of boxes in terms of reach – the conference already has Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech and Texas in-state – but for a league that needs more teams, better media deals, and a higher profile, this might be the time.
Holgorsen is obviously a Big 12-caliber coach. With Lincoln Riley extending his deal at Oklahoma, Tom Herman and the “we’re baaaaaack” Texas program coming off a whopper of a bowl season, Les Miles taking over at Kansas, new head men at Texas Tech and Kansas State along with West Virginia, and schools like Iowa State and Baylor becoming more interesting with their hot young coaches, the league is rising up.
With this move – Houston of course just wants to win more – but this could be the clear signal that says it’s ready to be a part of the Power Five world.
It’s saying it’s ready to play with the big boys, just like TCU was able to do when it moved conferences back in 2012.
Big 12, go for the big cities, the big fan bases, and the money that will follow. Go get UCF and USF. Go get Cincinnati or Memphis.
And go get Houston. More than anything else, do it to make some sense out of this coaching move.