Well. It's official. West Virginia University announced this afternoon that Dana Holgorsen will replace offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen following the Champs Sports Bowl, and replace head coach Bill Stewart after the 2011 season. Think what you will about how it was done, it's an exciting move for Mountaineer fans. With each of the last three coaching changes, Mountaineer fans have said, "Finally! We're going to throw the football!" This time, they might actually be right.
In a press release, Athletic Director Oliver Luck had this to say about his new hire:
"I think the transition year for coach Holgorsen will be very beneficial to the football program, and the opportunity to learn from coach Bill Stewart should not be underestimated. Coach Holgorsen is one of the top coaches in college football. His success at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State speaks for itself. We know that coach Holgorsen will bring a high-powered offense that will be incredibly entertaining to watch at Milan Puskar Stadium.
He will also provide a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our team as well as a wealth of experience. He has served under some fantastic mentors over the years, guys such as Hal Mumme, Mike Leach and Kevin Sumlin. I look forward to coach Holgorsen joining us. I cannot imagine a better combination of offensive and defensive coordinators in Dana Holgorsen and Jeff Casteel working for coach Stewart. Mountaineer football is in the best of hands."
Many Mountaineer fans, this one among them, are unhappy with the way that Bill Stewart is being shown the door. Luck commented on his current head coach:
"The entire Mountaineer community greatly appreciates the work that coach Bill Stewart has done for West Virginia University and the entire state. Going back to his first year on the football staff in 2000, which was the final season for Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, coach Stewart has been a tremendous representative of our football program."
"We are indeed fortunate to have enjoyed his steady leadership and infectious personality. His dedication and love for his home state, as well as his passion for Mountaineer football, are unparalleled, and we look forward with great anticipation to a successful 2011 season with coach Stewart in charge."
Holgorsen is the hottest commodity on the coaching market, and now he's coming to Morgantown. To make matters even stranger, Pitt had wanted Holgorsen to replace Dave Wannstedt. I'm not entirely sure if West Virginia stole Pitt's coach or if the Panthers forced their hand, but either way it just seems strange. Coaching changes at West Virginia University rarely go smoothly, so it's no surprise this one was done in such a backwards manner.
Either way, I'm a Mountaineer fan through and through, and this does raise some interesting possibilities about how this offense will use Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey next season. Things will be exciting in Morgantown, that's for sure. The Mountaineers may finally become the throw-first team the fans have wanted for the past fifteen seasons. It's too soon to tell, because this is the beginning of the story, not the end of it. In any event, it's nice to know that this is official and not just an internet meme gone awry.