Why Shane Lyons Won The WVU Coaching Derby

Why Shane Lyons Won the WVU Coaching Derby


While Dana Holgorsen got what he wanted in taking the head football coaching job at Houston — most notably a more metropolitan area, personal access to a billionaire, a contract with more guaranteed money and a much less difficult schedule — there’s no doubt that West Virginia director of athletics Shane Lyons, and by extension WVU, was the big winner in the coaching swap. West Virginia’s search, pursuit and landing of Neal Brown was a textbook execution.

That’s not to downgrade Holgorsen’s winning percentage in the affair he started after attempting to leverage a contract extension with WVU. It wasn’t a total head-to-head contest with Lyons, other than in the attempted power plays which he and members of his cadre attempted in order to force the West Virginia AD to extend his contract, guarantee more money, or both. (More on that in a moment.) There can, in coaching changes, be more than one winner. The Red Bull champ was in that column in a number of ways. Still, there were countering losses, including the step down in conference affiliation, that can’t be ignored.

WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons

Lyons, on the other hand? Success all around. Let us count the ways.

– He showed strength in not caving in to the ham-handed attempts by the Holgorsen camp to force an extension. He looked at the value Holgorsen had brought to the program, the success rate he produced, and determined that a lengthy extension, or a return to a fully-guaranteed contract, simply wasn’t fair to WVU. He didn’t draw a hard “no” line during this process, as there were some offers made and negotiations conducted, but he wasn’t going to make a bad decision just to make the problem go away.

As a numbers man, he’s well-versed in performing cost-benefit analyses, honing that ability during his three years at Alabama before making the move to WVU. He’s made the call in retaining, extending or letting coaches go. In this case, the numbers weren’t right, but his decision was.

– He was ready to go when Holgorsen showed signs of departing. He already had a list of potential candidates (something every AD should do) but he acted quickly upon it. In conjunction with University president E.Gordon Gee , talks with those individuals commenced immediately. There was barely time to try to identify private planes upon which they might be traveling to visit with Neal Brown and Luke Fickell, who were the top two under consideration. Even in today’s fast-paced world, the speed with which he got the job done was remarkable.

– He reportedly didn’t employ a national search firm or consultant. While he certainly talked with multiple people to receive input, he didn’t waste money on hiring an outside firm. This was a good decision on multiple fronts. First, it saved money. Second, who from the outside would know more about WVU, or what sort of candidate might have the best chance of success there? Granted, a consultant might have a little more information on a potential candidate, but it was clear Lyons and Gee and their list, and it’s tough to think of anyone within reach that should have been on it.

– He clearly established parameters and let fans know of those, albeit in general terms of the direction in which the search would proceed. Those included “a proven record of competitive success, a passion for the student-athlete, emphasis on academics and a strong work ethic. We will move quickly to bring him to Morgantown.”

It also was known that head coaching experience was important, as he did not want to endure an on-the-job training period such as WVU had to endure with its previous head coach.

– Finally, the money. It was becoming evident that Holgorsen’s job security was tenuous, given the combined factors of less than optimal record, a reducing buyout, and a bit of a strain in relations. While not a fait accompli, it was very likely that another down year in 2019 would have led to a dismissal, even though West Virginia would have been on the hook for a buyout of some $4.7 million after the season was completed. Instead, Lyons and WVU will get paid $1 million in buyout money by Holgorsen, a net difference of $5.7 million. Add in the money saved by not hiring consultants, and that figure probably reaches close to $6 million.

Of course, the final evaluation will come with the results of Brown’s tenure at WVU. That can’t be judged until at least three or four seasons have passed. But in this, the run-up to his hiring, there’s already one clear winner.

 

 

 

 

 

Home forums Why Shane Lyons Won The WVU Coaching Derby

This topic contains 14 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by DrJohn DrJohn .

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  • #79033

    Why Shane Lyons Won the WVU Coaching Derby While Dana Holgorsen got what he wanted in taking the head football coaching job at Houston — most notably
    [See the full post at: Why Shane Lyons Won The WVU Coaching Derby]

    #79041

    Lyons did well. Now we all hope for happily ever after

    #79055

    Amazing that Lyons was able to move that quickly. You know that he had this succession plan in place well in advance. And it was great to see that the Good Old Boy Network didn’t have time to interfere. Kudo’s to Shane.

    #79065

    I am very impressed by Lyons leadership qualities

    #79068

    IMHO, as I have said elsewhere – this was ALL about the $$

    WVU recently started a $100m Facilities Improvement Fundraising Campaign.   Looking at next years schedule while also looking at our roster going into the year, WVU Athletics had to be scared that a poor season would drive fans and donors away.   I would guess that was also the reason Dana was seeking an extension and more guaranteed money from WVU because if they performed horribly, he may have been hung in effigy ala Bobby Bowden and run out of town by fans/donors.

    By changing coaches WVU now has a 1-3yr bye on being a winning program as lack of success can be blamed on getting a new coach and his system having to be learned and he needs to get “his players” into the program…

     

    Look at it realistically:  We have an unproven QB, we are lean at WR and have lost some of our OL.   Our schedule next year is NOT an easy one.   OOC:  James Madison, Missouri and NC State and then 9 B12 games.   We do not have any games that you would call an “easy win”.    If we finish next season 7-5 it would considered a near miracle with some thinking we will finish between 2-10 and 6-6.

     

     

    #79072

    Agree Gunny, this was one of the rare instances when everything worked out nearly perfect for both sides.

    Im more than pleased with the change and that’s not a slam on DH… it was simply time for a change and we could do a whole lot worse than Neal Brown. It will be interesting to see how he fills out his staff and whether or not Gibby is retained or even wants to be. Seems a bit awkward to me so my preference would be to cut ties and allow Brown to assemble his own staff.

    Bottom line is Lyons saw what was coming and allowed it to happen while quietly doing his due diligence for what will be a defining hire for him. All indications are that he has hit a home run.

    Onward and upward!!!!

    #79080

    Amen!

    #79087

    What gunny leaves out is that given the 1-3 year “grace period” for the new coach allows for excitement to build for the fund raising.  If Brown would pull a rabbit out the hat and win 6 or 7 games next year, excitement will be over the top.  Hell, if he wins 5 games I’d say he would have done a pretty good job (EDIT – especially if we play with an edge and become a “tough out” with the games we do lose).

    #79091

    6-6 is not out of the realm of reality. Maybe even 7-5
    I think we go 2-1 OOC next year with a L to Mizzou
    And 4 or even 5 B12 W’s…. Kansaa, OKSt, TT, KSt, Bay.

    Yep, even breaking in a new QB.

    #79177

    6-6 is not out of the realm of reality. Maybe even 7-5
    I think we go 2-1 OOC next year with a L to Mizzou
    And 4 or even 5 B12 W’s…. Kansaa, OKSt, TT, KSt, Bay.

    Yep, even breaking in a new QB.

    Hope you are right Butler. Save this, and feel free to repost if it comes to fruition. That would be a killer of an early prediction!

    #79188

    Shane may have won the Derby but, I think all sides won, except Troy.  I sincerely hope they, like we, continue to improve and have great success in the future.

    Butler, I’m right there with you, and already making plans to attend the 2019 bowl, whichever one it is.  No pressure.

    #79190

    Agreed Pedro, and I did point that out in the first paragraph. Maybe not strongly enough, but it was good for DH and Houston too. I just felt that if we were rating them all, Lyons was the clear winner.

    #79196

    Agreed Pedro, and I did point that out in the first paragraph. Maybe not strongly enough, but it was good for DH and Houston too. I just felt that if we were rating them all, Lyons was the clear winner.

    You were subtle with your point in the article, but for those of us that can read the nuance, you made your point clearly enough.

    #79207

    Agreed Pedro, and I did point that out in the first paragraph. Maybe not strongly enough, but it was good for DH and Houston too. I just felt that if we were rating them all, Lyons was the clear winner.

    You were subtle with your point in the article, but for those of us that can read the nuance, you made your point clearly enough.

    I thought that was abundantly clear. It will take some time, but I’m very positive about the future of this program, even if the new hire somehow doesn’t pan out–which I haven’t any reason to believe that it won’t. Now, let’s FINALLY get that elusive NC–because Mountaineer Nation has wandered far longer than 40 years through the desert…and the winningest program without one DESERVES it, if anyone does!

    #79232

    Very nice analysis Kevin. When I read over the basics of the last extension that Lyons signed with Coach Holgorsen, I thought then that Lyons had negotiated in WVU’s best interest and provided for our AD to do just what he did now. Shane Lyons used foresight and a process to lead WVU based on his experience and knowledge of the college arena. No Shiny Dolls.
    Thank you AD Lyons. Wish you had been around eight years ago…

    GO MOUNTAINEERS!

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