Luck on WVU Positioning, Holgorsen

Luck on WVU Positioning, Holgorsen


A lot has changed with the West Virginia University football program since then-WVU director of athletics Oliver Luck handed the Mountaineer future to Dana Holgorsen in 2010.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that WVU remains without a national championship, as the words uttered by Luck that day still echo through the Puskar Center.

“My goal is to win a national championship at West Virginia University,” Luck proclaimed that December day.

The truth was, the national championship – even the Big 12 championship – did not come in the eight years that have transpired since, an uneven run for the WVU football program that twice won 10 games under Holgorsen but never reached the heights Luck expected.

Oliver Luck

So now that the Holgorsen Era is over with 61 wins and 41 losses, much excitement and much disappointment, how does Oliver Luck look back upon his hire and of setting such a high bar for his football coach to shoot for?

“The goal of every athletic director should have is to win the National Championship, right? That’s why you tee it up… it’s why you play the games,” Luck said  last week from his office at his own new challenge, President and CEO of Vince McMahon’s renewal of the XFL.

“I don’t know how many schools there are in college football but it’s everyone’s goal,” Luck continued. “Obviously, that didn’t happen. Nobody’s won a national championship at WVU. I hope that changes going forward.”

So where is WVU in the college football echelon as it brings Neal Brown aboard?

“Now I will say, it’s obvious Dana did not reach that goal but moving into the Big 12, based on how the system works in today’s era with the playoffs, West Virginia is in position to win a championship,” noted Luck, who spent five years as West Virginia’s A.D. (2010-14) before accepting a job as an executive vice president for the NCAA. He left that position last summer to become the commissioner of the XFL.

“It’s basically impossible to win the national championship, based on the last five, six, seven years, for a school not in one of the Power 5 conferences to win a championship. (Holgorsen) helped us get comfortable in the Big 12.”

The Big 12 was not the Power 5 conference most convenient for WVU, but it was the one that would take the Mountaineers, and Luck had the foresight not to hold out for a dream in the ACC or the Big Ten.

The hiring process for Holgorsen was something of a mess, as WVU already had a coach, Bill Stewart, who had made himself a Mountaineer legend by beating Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl when WVU was teetering on a precarious ledge following Rich Rodriguez’s sudden departure for Michigan.

That win in the desert earned Stewart the Mountaineer coaching job and three 9-4 seasons probably should have allowed him to keep it.

But Luck felt WVU needed to upgrade things heading into a new conference. He tried to ease the pain on Stewart and the public relations mess he was creating by giving Stewart another year, as Holgorsen was supposed to serve as “coach in waiting.”

But that wasn’t on Stewart’s agenda, and Holgorsen did nothing to help himself with an ejection from a West Virginia casino, a totally immature approach for a man starting a new job.

Stewart then went to the press with other Holgorsen transgressions and before long it was an unworkable situation, with Stewart ultimately being forced into retirement.

Luck stuck with Holgorsen, cast his reputation with him, hoping he would mature into the job.

“I think anyone who becomes a head coach for the first time has lot to learn,” Luck said last week. “I heard that from lots of coaches that they were never quite prepared to be head coach. It’s a different job.

“In the time I was there — and I can’t say I watched him closely since then — he did a good job of maturing and understanding the obligations that exist at a flagship school like West Virginia.

“He’s grown and developed in that,” added Luck.

Now Holgorsen is an experienced coach going into a new job, leaving behind a program that still hungers to lose the rap of being the winningest team in college football without a national title.

Does Luck think they are in a position to do so?

“It’s hard to draw conclusions from a relatively small sample size,” said the 1982 WVU grad. “If you go back and look at it, if you want to win a national championship, you have to be effectively in a Power 5 conference, you have to get to the title game and then you have to win that game.

“That’s not easy when you look at the schools who are the perennial favorites in this era and even before. What do you have to do to win? You have to recruit 4- or 5-star athletes, you have to coach them up, have a program in place that consumes a lot of dollars and uses those dollars intelligently and have great facilities.

“You need great fan support, you have to have the right culture.”

To Luck, it is as it was.

“It’s no different than it was 10 years ago,” he concluded. “We’ve come close. Don Nehlen came close. Rich came close. Dana had a chance this year to come close, but I thought he underachieved with the talent he had on board.”

Home forums Luck on WVU Positioning, Holgorsen

This topic contains 16 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  GunnyGuy .

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  • #78987

      Luck on WVU Positioning, Holgorsen A lot has changed with the West Virginia University football program since then-WVU director of athletics Ol
    [See the full post at: Luck on WVU Positioning, Holgorsen]

    #79054

    “It’s no different than it was 10 years ago,” he concluded. “We’ve come close. Don Nehlen came close. Rich came close. Dana had a chance this year to come close, ‘but I thought he underachieved with the talent he had on board.”’

    Interesting that OL is quoted with that last line–not that it’s anything more than most of us are saying too, but still interesting nonetheless.

    Thanks for the article. It’s appreciated.

    #79061

    Does anybody remember why Luck was sold on Holgerson.Was it a money thing at the time?

    #79063

    Luck’s rationale for Homgerson was branding. We were awful on offense under Stew. Boring football and mediocre results so Luck sought an innovative and exciting offensive minded coach thinking that exciting games would at least revive the fan  base to some degree.

    Inthink it was a good hire at the time and think DH was OK after he grew into the position.

    Fast forward to today and I think the Brown hire will yield big results after a couple years. Don’t expect much next season as we are going to struggle big time. I hope our fans understand that and don’t judge Brown on 2019 record alone. If Wen win 7 games I’d say he did a helluva job.

    #79067

    I think Holgorsen never got past the crazy uncle phase with the WVU fan base.  We got used to his ticks, but never really cozied up to him.

    I get the feeling we are going to accept Neal Brown and become very comfortable with him.  He will need to develop the program and get us to the conference championship game every so often, but I think he will earn the goodwill to have a bad year every so often, much like we had with Don Nehlen.

    #79073

    Luck’s rationale for Homgerson was branding. We were awful on offense under Stew. Boring football and mediocre results so Luck sought an innovative and exciting offensive minded coach thinking that exciting games would at least revive the fan base to some degree. Inthink it was a good hire at the time and think DH was OK after he grew into the position. Fast forward to today and I think the Brown hire will yield big results after a couple years. Don’t expect much next season as we are going to struggle big time. I hope our fans understand that and don’t judge Brown on 2019 record alone. If Wen win 7 games I’d say he did a helluva job.

    Clements and Luck hated Stew’a “Gomer Pyle” act.   All  Stew did was win games and they recruited at a higher ranked level on average than Dana.  What was the nail in the coffin was Stew’s loyalty and refusal to get rid of Jeff Mullen as OC.

    #79074

    Hence the boring offense and underachieving during his stint. Good man, great heart, decent coach.

    Stew and Luck were oil and water.

    #79075

    I do not agree that Stewart recruited at a higher level that Holley.  Stewart also had a great number  of his recruits not staying in the program.  Holgorsen came in and had to rebuild the number of scholarship players before he could be competitive.

    #79077

    I do not agree that Stewart recruited at a higher level that Holley. Stewart also had a great number of his recruits not staying in the program. Holgorsen came in and had to rebuild the number of scholarship players before he could be competitive.

    Look at the numbers- they don’t lie.   And Stew could only recruit 20 players because of our self reporting to NCAA of issues from Rod.

    Stews rolling 4yr Avg recruiting class was 35th and Holgs last 4 years was 46th or 47th.

    Also, the O may have been “boring” but look at Stew’s winning percentage vs Dana’s!

    #79078

    Hence the boring offense and underachieving during his stint. Good man, great heart, decent coach. Stew and Luck were oil and water.

    Clements was the one that really disliked Stew (and most West Virginian’s)!  He never in his time as WVU President hired a single major hire of anyone from West Virginia. (And in private meetings was said to frequently make disparaging remarks about West Virginian’s)

    #79079

    Gunny, argue somewhere else. I was simply responding to the question posed by Catfish as to what Luck saw in Holgorsen.

    But since you engaged… comparing the Stew Big East schedules to DH in the Big 12???? Come in man!!!!!

    #79105

    Gunny, argue somewhere else. I was simply responding to the question posed by Catfish as to what Luck saw in Holgorsen. But since you engaged… comparing the Stew Big East schedules to DH in the Big 12???? Come in man!!!!!

    Greg- you have known me for years.  i don’t argue, not my style.  I will discuss facts and such, but arguments are not my style.

    #79112

    I do not agree that Stewart recruited at a higher level that Holley. Stewart also had a great number of his recruits not staying in the program. Holgorsen came in and had to rebuild the number of scholarship players before he could be competitive.

    Holgorsen has had his own troubles with retention. That’s why we’ve recruited so many JUCOs and transfers as of late.

    #79132

    Hence the boring offense and underachieving during his stint. Good man, great heart, decent coach. Stew and Luck were oil and water.

    Clements was the one that really disliked Stew (and most West Virginian’s)! He never in his time as WVU President hired a single major hire of anyone from West Virginia. (And in private meetings was said to frequently make disparaging remarks about West Virginian’s)

    Don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with my recent return, but I actually witnessed some of dear Jim’s assessments of West Virginians.  I’m sure he thought because of my employer that I just had to be from somewhere else . . . he looked uncomfortable when I said I was a native son.

    #79140

    Luck’s rationale for Homgerson was branding. We were awful on offense under Stew. Boring football and mediocre results so Luck sought an innovative and exciting offensive minded coach thinking that exciting games would at least revive the fan base to some degree. Inthink it was a good hire at the time and think DH was OK after he grew into the position. Fast forward to today and I think the Brown hire will yield big results after a couple years. Don’t expect much next season as we are going to struggle big time. I hope our fans understand that and don’t judge Brown on 2019 record alone. If Wen win 7 games I’d say he did a helluva job.

    I agree with Mex’s assessment.

    #79144

    @Mex I remember it all now…..Thanks

    #79145

    Careful MI….. you will be accused of arguing.  LOL

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