WVU makes it official: Holgorsen in as coach-in-waiting

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The rumors from the past 24 hours have come to fruition.

Dana Holgorsen will become West Virginia’s next head coach.  Eventually.

According to a press release issued by the school, Holgorsen will join the Mountaineer football coaching staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2011 season, before becoming WVU’s 33rd head football coach in 2012.

“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,” athletic director Oliver Luck said in a statement. “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.”

Holgorsen spent one season at Oklahoma State, and directed one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.  The Cowboys led the nation in total offense in 2010, averaging 537.6 yards per game, were No. 2 in passing offense, averaging 354.7 yards per game, and No. 3 in scoring offense, averaging 44.9 points per game.  The year prior to Holgorsen’s arrival, OSU was 61st in total offense.

“I look forward to the opportunity to join West Virginia University as offensive coordinator for the 2011 season,” Holgorsen said. “It will be a privilege to work alongside two great football coaches in Bill Stewart and Jeff Casteel.

“Naturally, I am excited about succeeding coach Stewart in 2012 and becoming the head coach of the Mountaineers and leading the West Virginia football program to even greater heights.

“My goal is to win a national championship at West Virginia University, and I firmly believe that coach Stewart has built a solid foundation, which will allow us to compete with the very best in the country.”

Current head coach Bill Stewart will remain the head coach in 2011, and then transition into an administrative role in 2012.  Perhaps in an effort to smooth over any hard feelings on the part of the current coach, Luck lavished praised on Stewart in the release.

“The entire Mountaineer community greatly appreciates the work that coach Bill Stewart has done for West Virginia University and the entire state,” Luck said in a continuation of the statement. “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.”

The release went on to state that Holgorsen, who will replace current offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, will start at West Virginia after the bowl game and his compensation will be $800,000 in 2011 and will increase to $1.4 million in 2012, plus incentives. All current West Virginia football coaches will remain in place through the bowl game.

Wazzu statement: ‘The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all’

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Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.

HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.

Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski found dead in apparent suicide

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There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.

According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.

Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.

Hilinski was just 21 years old.

As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski.  Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.

In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State.  With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.

Former Nebraska OL coach Mike Cavanaugh hired by Syracuse

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Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.

The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.

“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”

The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).

From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”

The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.