The most surprising move of the 2018-19 coaching carousel is officially official.
A couple of days after the speculation first kicked off, reports surfaced that indicated Dana Holgorsen was finalizing a deal that would take him from a Power Five program in West Virginia to a Group of Five school in Houston. Wednesday afternoon, and with Red Bull in hand, UH confirmed that Holgorsen is indeed the Cougars’ new head football coach.
The hiring is a homecoming of sorts as Holgorsen spent two seasons (2008-09) as the offensive coordinator at Houston. Holgorsen maintains a home in the area as well as a close friendship with UH superbooster Tilman Fertitta.
Holgorsen has won either seven or eight games in five of his eight seasons with the Mountaineers, the lone exceptions being 10 wins in 2011 and 2016 as well as a four-win season in 2013. WVU finished off an eight-win 2018 season with a loss to Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl last month.
Holgorsen, who is expected to sign a five-year deal worth an average of $4 million annually, replaces Major Applewhite, who went 15-10 in his two seasons with the Cougars, including an ugly 70-14 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl last weekend that set the wheels in motion for a change.
On WVU’s end, they will be owed $1 million in the form of a buyout from Holgorsen. Prior to Jan. 1, Holgorsen’s WVU contract called for a $2.5 million buyout.
In a statement, the university thanked Holgorsen for his eight years heading the program while at the same time confirming the launch of a national search for a replacement.
As for potential replacements in Morgantown, a trio of current FBS head coaches, North Texas’ Seth Littrell, Troy’s Neal Brown and Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, are already among the rumored replacements for the job.