Change needed at WVU

This can’t be what West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck envisioned for the Mountaineer football program when he hired Dana Holgorsen as its head coach.

A season-ending game in a half-empty stadium.

A meaningless contest between two teams with losing records.

Another game in which West Virginia makes few adjustments and allows an extremely mediocre opponent to rally from a 24-point deficit the largest comeback in Iowa State football history on the Mountaineers’ home field.

A losing record. No bowl trip. No extended practices.

Frankly, I’ve seen enough and so has virtually every Mountaineer fan I encounter.

Before WVU totally loses what it has taken decades to build, Holgorsen must go and must go now.

Let’s review the Holgorsen record as head coach.

The initial year obviously working with players he didn’t recruit West Virginia not only won the Orange Bowl, but it scored 70 points against Clemson and was the toast of the nation. “West Virginia just scored again” became a running joke on news and sports talk shows.

Since then, the joke has been on the Mountaineer fans who long have supported this program with their money and their loyalty. Last year, Holgorsen inherited a team that was ranked No. 5 in the preseason. By the end of the year, West Virginia was unranked, finishing 7-6 including an embarrassing loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

This year, WVU has hit rock bottom. It finished 4-8. Two of those wins came over William & Mary and Georgia State. The Mountaineers lost to both Kansas and Iowa State, of late the two worst programs in the Big 12.

Any CEO especially one as intelligent as Luck can look at the progress chart and see that all the arrows point downward.

But it isn’t just the on-field results. We also must discuss Holgorsen’s demeanor.

He’s become a TV celebrity with his sideline antics. Throwing down his headset. His frantic reactions. If he’s under control on the inside, it doesn’t show on the outside.

We ripped the late Bill Stewart for looking befuddled and squinting at the scoreboard, but at least he didn’t embarrass us with his actions.

One of the most consistent things about Don Nehlen’s tenure in Morgantown was the stability of the staff. The players became quite familiar with their coordinators and position coaches and men like Steve Dunlap, Bill Kirlewach and Doc Holliday became fixtures.

Only one assistant has been with Holgorsen for all three seasons. WVU has become a revolving door. A home for football vagabonds that roam from program to program. There’s no continuity. No consistency. No loyalty to the head coach or the program itself.

Holgorsen knows offensive football. He proved that at Houston and Oklahoma State. But there is a difference between being an offensive coordinator and being a head coach.

A major difference. The head coach is the face of the program, in many ways the school itself. He not only must provide constant leadership to more than 100 players, but deal with trainers, managers, his staff, the administration, the media and the fans.

Holgorsen’s press conferences are brutal. “We got beat on all three sides of the ball.” “We did the same thing we always do.”

Not only are the quotes predictable but there’s no attempt to develop a relationship with the very people who can shape public opinion about your program. As distasteful as coach Nehlen found spending time with the media, he would call writers by their first name and show some personality. He knew how the game is played.

West Virginia’s national image is shaped more by WVU’s football program than anything else. One of my long-time traditions is to take an annual vacation in Las Vegas. For years, if I wore a West Virginia hat or other garb, I’d be greeted with “You guys are good” or “How’s Major Harris (or Pat White) doing?” During a recent trip, the comments were a virtually unanimous “You guys are no good.”

There’s no retort to that. They’re right.

Yet, Holgorsen’s future and in turn the future of the Mountaineer football program rests with one man, for there is just one vote in this election.

Mr. Luck, please make it stop.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com.