All eyes on WVU’s Holgorsen

Winning is the cure all when it comes to athletics.

Especially in the case of the football and men’s basketball teams at West Virginia University.

Following the Mountaineers’ unexpectedly lopsided (70-33) victory over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen could have elected to run for any political office in the Mountain State and have a legitimate shot at unseating whoever the incumbent would have been. Two years later the former-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and the University of Houston finds himself on the hot seat as WVU prepares to take on Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Football Classic in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, Aug. 30.

The lack in faith has resulted in season ticket sales dropping below the 30,000-mark for the first time in several years and fans have begun openly questioning Director of Athletics Oliver Luck’s decision to replace then-head coach Bill Stewart with a candidate that had never held a head coaching position before coming to WVU.

One can only wonder how hot that seat will get should the Crimson Tide manage to open their 2014 season with the 27.5 point margin of victory that the Las Vegas odds-makers have proclaimed or had the Mountaineers an even more devasting setback.

Fans are fickle. Win and you can do just about anything during the offseason and they will be quick to throw their support your way. Lose and they are just as quickly to throw you under the bus while tar and feathering you on your way out of the state.

But that’s the nature of the business coaches except when they elect to make coaching their profession.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Coaching is a profession. Few, if any, have any other responsibilities at their institution of employment. Their work day varies depending on meetings, practices, or film studies.

For the most part these individuals get rewarded very, very well with multi-million dollar contracts that have guaranteed buy-outs should the school, or coach, wish to part ways.

It also means that they understand that winning is what will keep them employed and why so many of them move on to another school where they see a better chance of winning or return to the jobs they previously held where they did enjoy success.

Holgorsen, and his staff, are professionals. They aren’t blind to the desires of fans to return the Mountaineers to those days when BCS bowls and Top 10 rankings were more of a every year occurrence rather than a rarity.

It doesn’t help that WVU will face its most challenging schedule in years. Three preseason Top 10 opponents in the first seven games is daunting at best. Throw in a Big 12 Conference slate that includes contests against nationally ranked opponents in Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas and one could easily predict the Mountaineers to finish no better than last year’s 4-8 mark.

But, isn’t that why we play the games?

Contact Jim Butta via email at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com