Assistants Race Up Next, and Holgorsen/Houston Hold Pocket Aces

Assistants Race Up Next, and Holgorsen/Houston Hold Pocket Aces


When Dana Holgorsen accepted the head coaching job at the University of Houston, he also took possession of a big advantage that accrues to all new hires – the leverage to take members of his previous staff without an immediate counter offer. This is important because there are assistants from the 2018 Mountaineer staff that it would be desirable to keep, but which could be put under pressure immediately to accept a guaranteed new job.

Tilman Fertitta

It works like this: Holgorsen, now in place, has already begun making offers and talking to those assistants from the West Virginia staff that he would like to have join him. WVU, on the other hand, is almost certain to leave those decisions to its next head coach. It’s not unheard of for the school where the coach just left to tell the assistants that they will be considered for spots under the new boss, but guaranteed jobs are extremely rare.

Holgorsen took wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier with him to Houston, where the pair appeared at a UH basketball game. It’s a foregone conclusion that Carrier, a Houston native on Cougar alumnus, will make the jump. Holgorsen even allowed him to talk to the media, something that he cut off midway through WVU’s 2018 season in which he only permitted the offensive and defensive coordinators to speak.

Holgorsen will also have a respectable amount of money to work with in attracting a new staff. The Cougars not only broke the bank and blew up the Group of Five coaching salary scale for Holgorsen, courtesy of mega-booster Tilman Fertitta, but they are also reportedly making available up to  $4.5 million for on-field assistants, strength coaches and other staffers. That does sound like a lot, but will Holgorsen pay more than what previous staffers received in order to attract some of WVU’s staff to the southwest? Will that, and the personal ties developed during their time at West Virginia, be enough to tip the scales?

What are the odds on other coaches departing for the big lights, but smaller football stage, of Houston? Here are some of the names to consider:

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline (2018 WVU Salary $501,000): It seemed a foregone conclusion that Wickline, whom Holgorsen brought to WVU in 2016, would follow him to Houston. However, there is some indication that he might not be among the top group of coaches targeted to join him in H-Town.

Cornerbacks coach Doug Belk (2018 Salary: $251,000): Holgorsen can’t ignore the recruiting chops the Georgia native has quickly developed. He’s excelled in the Atlanta area, and that alone will make him one of the top targets on the staff.

Running backs coach Marquel Blackwell (2018 Salary: $251,000): The head of WVU’s best returning position group, Blackwell has also done well in recruiting. He has been at six different colleges in the last decade, and has had one-year stops at four (WVU, Florida, Western Kentucky and USF). He does have two young daughters, which might obviate against a move in terms of stability, but the uprooting process is one that every coach’s family has to be prepared for.

Associate AD For Football Alex Hammond (2017 Salary: $204,000): The duo came to WVU joined at the hip. Hammond is a graduate of the University of Texas. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t continue on with Holgorsen.

Director of Player Personnel Ryan Dorchester (2017 Salary: $115,000): Dorchester has done an outstanding job in moving up from student manager to his current position heading recruiting and player issues. He’s quickly assimilated all of the changes in the recruiting game, and managed Holgorsen’s transition to transfer recruitment as a major factor in building the roster. While not a name that every WVU fan knows or first thinks of, he’s a foundation piece whose value to Holgorsen would be immediate.

Assistant AD For Strength and Conditioning Mike Joseph (2017 Salary: $363,000): Will Hogorsen offer? And if he does, would Joseph’s ties to West Virginia (he’s a Fairmont native) be enough to keep him here? There don’t appear to be quite as many personal ties between Holgorsen and Joseph as will some of the other staffers listed above. The hope within the program, without question, is that Joseph would stay.

The one thing West Virginia has in its favor is that it is a Power Five conference school, while Houston is not. The circumstances that make understandable Holgorsen’s willingness to make a move down don’t apply to most of the assistants, so any that follow might be looking for either an appreciable salary bump or an increase in responsibilities to justify it. Otherwise, it could be viewed as a blip on their resumes the next time they are in search of jobs.

Unfortunately, the countering circumstance is just as strong, if not stronger. It’s one of the bird-in-the-hand variety. If Holgorsen makes an offer, that’s job security for the coach coming year, and with families to support, that’s a huge consideration. Without knowing West Virginia’s position, those who get reasonable offers may have no other choice but to accept.

Home forums Assistants Race Up Next, and Holgorsen/Houston Hold Pocket Aces

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  • #78877

    Assistants Race Up Next, and Holgorsen/Houston Hold Pocket Aces When Dana Holgorsen accepted the head coaching job at the University of Houston, he al
    [See the full post at: Assistants Race Up Next, and Holgorsen/Houston Hold Pocket Aces]

    #79060

    Joseph is the only one I would want to stay and I think he will.And I say that for no other reason than he is a native son and his credentials as a  strength/conditioning coach are impeccable. Coach Brown would be hard pressed to find anyone of equal or greater value.As for the rest I want Brown to bring in the guys that helped make him a success.

    #79062

    My 2 cents, for what it’s worth, is at the college level you need recruiters and developers. In the NFL, where the talent level is not that great between the top and bottom, perhaps the schemers (coordinators) are more important than at the college level. not to imply that anything is unimportant. so anyone from the last staff that can recruit and/or develop I hope is retained unless he already has connections to better. And I guess the next thing I would like to see are coaches who can adjust at halftime. More games, I think, are won in the 2nd half than the 1st half.
    I am excited about the Brown hire. When the candidates were 1st being mentioned I was leaning toward Fickell being my preference. But after looking at their resumes a bit I’m now glad Brown is the hire. I’m not sure a long term, successful coach will work at WVU. Get the best up and coming coach available (I hope Brown is that person) and keep him as long as possible. When he leaves get the next one. Each time the program should be in as good a shape as possible and should stay that way if we don’t swing and miss.

    #79076

    WR Coach — Carrier (GONE)
    CB Coach — Belk
    RB Coach — Blackwell
    Assoc AD — Hammond
    Dir Player Personnel — Dorchester
    S&K — Joseph

    Is that everybody Holgs wants? Seems very light list to me. Usually a HC move takes a good portion of his current staff and $4.5M for coaches and staff looks like more than what WVU budgeted.

    If I were Brown, I’d make a push to keep Belk, Blackwell (for their recruiting and also they are good coaches) and Joseph.

    If he keeps Gibby (he’s also a good recruiter) I hope that he places him in a position that he can’t screw up the D. ………… Oooops…. Did I just say that?

    #79083

    Carrier, Belk, Hammond and Dorchester are gone.

    Wickline unlikely to stay.

    Blackwell might be a solid rentention.

    Defensively I say start over and spend freely as we will have at least an extra million to play with given what Brown will get ($2.5?) vs. Dana’s nearly $4.

    Fresh blood with some recruiting chops would be nice.

    Maybe give Seider an OC title and being him back.

    #79084

    Cinci has the measure of it.  College needs recruiters and developers, with schemers being the 3rd priority.

    Under that premise, then I’d like to retain Belk, Blackwell, Gibby, and Joseph.  My list is no particular order.

    EDIT:  Just saw mexman’s post.  So, one of my four is gone, eh?

    #79085

    OC – Jajuan Seider / Butch Jones

    QBC – Clint Tricket / Pat White

    OLC – Ron Crook /

    RBC – Blackwell

    WRC – ?????

    Defensive staff ?????

    #79086

    Seider coming back would be great. Recruiters would be my first priority. I didn’t see where Belk had already left. That’s a loss for his recruiting. Hammond and Dorchester not so much. Office Staff can always be replaced easier than field coaches.

    #79088

    My 2 cents, for what it’s worth, is at the college level you need recruiters and developers. In the NFL, where the talent level is not that great between the top and bottom, perhaps the schemers (coordinators) are more important than at the college level. not to imply that anything is unimportant. so anyone from the last staff that can recruit and/or develop I hope is retained unless he already has connections to better. And I guess the next thing I would like to see are coaches who can adjust at halftime. More games, I think, are won in the 2nd half than the 1st half. I am excited about the Brown hire. When the candidates were 1st being mentioned I was leaning toward Fickell being my preference. But after looking at their resumes a bit I’m now glad Brown is the hire. I’m not sure a long term, successful coach will work at WVU. Get the best up and coming coach available (I hope Brown is that person) and keep him as long as possible. When he leaves get the next one. Each time the program should be in as good a shape as possible and should stay that way if we don’t swing and miss.

    While I agree with a whole lot of what you say, Cinci, I think you’re selling WVU a bit short. With Oliver Luck, I knew there was a new kind of commitment. With Lyons, I’m even more convinced–as I am with President Gee. This is a refreshing, whole new experience for this school; its alumni; boosters and fans. What just went down puts an emphatic stamp on that. 🙂

    #79090

    Maybe take a swing at Jeff Scott of Clemson for OC?

    #79092

    How much free rein is an incoming HC given customarily–especially as it pertains/has pertained at WVU regarding position coaches and coordinators?

    I know this is a thread for the fan, but I’d love to know the REAL answer to my question, not being privy to all of the political nonsense that I imagine comes with the territory, especially with the more aggressive boosters that thinks their dollars buys them some sort of say around the camp (every school has a handful).

    Just hoping the incoming coach and the school get off on the right footing, out of the gate…

    #79094

    Pitty, I am sure that was pet of the negotiation with Gibby at least guaranteed an interview if not retention if he so wishes.

    That consideration would vary with the experience and track record of the incoming coach. Brown was a relatively hot commodity so he had some leverage but also understands the landscape and benefits of some of the current staff.

    My gut says he will retain 2 or 3 max and thus basically have his own staff.

    #79096

    The incoming coach has 100% free rein, almost always. That’s the case here from what I have been told.

    Could Brown choose to retain current coaches? Yes. But I do not believe he has been given any “must retains”.

    #79098

    Thanks, Mex. Always trust your judgement and know you have connections. Appreciate your reply.

    EDIT: Just seeing Kevin’s reply. Thanks to you both.

    I am suspicious by nature, but have somewhat of an understanding of how things work behind closed doors. This is one of those concerns.

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