Following a depressing end to the 2018 football season, reports are again beginning to build around West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and another position in the state of Texas.
A few weeks ago, a report from Lubbock indicated a potential match between the eight-year WVU veteran and Texas Tech, but that turned out to be largely smoke and practically no flame.
Today, multiple sources report that Holgorsen is now on the radar of the Houston Cougars, who were destroyed 70-14 by Army in this year’s Armed Forces Bowl. Holgorsen, with Texas coaching ties that include a stop as the offensive coordinator at Houston in 2008 and 2009, continues to pop up in conjunction with some of these jobs, although the level of interest on either side is difficult to gauge.
Houston, after creating a good deal of buzz in 2015 with a 13-1 record under head coach Tom Herman, has declined since. Herman put up a very good 9-3 record in 2016 before leaving prior to the team’s Las Vegas Bowl appearance to take the job at Texas. He was replaced by Major Applewhite, ironically a former Texas quarterback, who lost the 2016 bowl game, then oversaw seasons of 7-5 in 2017 and 8-5 this year, with both again capped by bowl losses.
That occurred against the backdrop of Houston president Renu Khator’s statement, who said around the time of Applewhite’s hiring that “winning is defined at the University of Houston as 10 and 2. We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4.”
Applewhite is reportedly on the chopping block according FootballScoop, among others, but there are again some interesting bits of information in regard to potential interest by the Cougars. Applewhite obviously didn’t reach the 10-2 standard, as his record is 15-11 over two seasons, but Holgorsen’s isn’t in that range either. His 61-41 record in his eight seasons as West Virginia’s head coach averages out to 7.6 wins and 5.1 losses per year, just about the same averages that Applewhite (7.5-5.5) has recorded. He does have two bowl wins to Applewhite’s zero, but also has five postseason losses, including a current streak of three in a row.
Since moving to Conference USA in 1996 and then the American in 2013, Houston has finished with ten wins just four times. Art Briles (2006) Kevin Sumlin (2009, 20011) and Herman (2015) are the only coaches to have done so.
Holgorsen’s buyout, should he choose to leave, would not be prohibitive. Beginning Jan. 1, his buyout number total owed to the University drops to just $1 million from its current $2.5 million total.
Holgorsen’s salary for the upcoming 2019 season is $3.7 million — more than triple the amount of Applewhite’s reported $1.5 million salary. It seems unlikely that Holgorsen, unless he is extremely unhappy at West Virginia, would be willing to take a significant pay cut to go to Houston, leaving the question of whether or not the Cougars would be willing to up their coaching budget to that degree. They obviously were unable to participate in the Herman salary auction, which wound up with him getting a five-year contract at $5 million per year with the Longhorns.
According to a WVU official, no notification requests have been made to West Virginia pertaining to any potential discussions over any new coaching positions. That is required by Holgorsen’s most recent contract extension, which was signed on Dec. 2, 2016.