In not so surprising news, West Virginia is hoping to have a new head coach for the football program within days. According to a report from MetroNews, the WVU Athletics Director Shane Lyons would ideally like to have a replacement for Dana Holgorsen, who was whisked away by Houston, by the weekend.
“We’re going to be thorough, but at the same time, we’re going to be swift,” Lyons said.
The good news for West Virginia fans is Lyons was able to get a jump on the coaching search process, which has now reportedly included formal interviews with Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, Troy head coach Neal Brown, and West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. This is because the speculation Holgorsen was going to leave the program for Houston was running rampant enough as Houston waited out the drop in Holgorsen’s buyout to fall to $1 million on January 1. Even though Lyons knew nothing could become official at Houston until the drop in the buyout and Houston took care of some formalities behind the scenes, Lyons was aware of the need to be acting on a search.
It can always be tricky having to conduct a coaching search this time of the year because the coaching carousel had mostly come to a rest, however, Fickell and Brown are intriguing candidates that are more than likely going to one-day get an opportunity to coach at a power conference. Fickell has had one year coaching a power conference program when he was named the interim head coach at Ohio State following the dismissal of former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel and prior to the hiring of the now former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.
Fickell’s one season as a head coach at Ohio State was a challenge and the Buckeyes went 6-7, but six years later he got his first chance to become a head coach again at Cincinnati. In two years at Cincinnati, Fickell brought the Bearcats back to being one of the top programs in the AAC with a record of 11-2 this past season. Brown has just wrapped up his fourth season as head coach at Troy with a cumulative record of 35-16 and three straight bowl victories.
You can put your Bobby Bowden Bowl plans on ice, because a scheduling agreement between Florida State and West Virginia is no longer in the works.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons informed The Charleston Gazette-Mail the deal between the two schools is now dead. Talks to work out a deal to play a game on a neutral field were never able to be finalized in either 2018 or 2019. The only problem is finding a date that works for both schools on a neutral field proved a bit difficult. West Virginia is already scheduled to face Tennessee in Charlotte in 2018 and they go on the road to play NC State just a couple of weeks later. A third power conference opponent to fill the final spot on the non-conference schedule, and doing so without a home draw, would not be ideal for West Virginia. The 2019 schedule also became an obstacle.
“The only date they could play  we already have two Power 5 [conference teams] on the schedule,” Lyons said. “We could not move those. We wanted to try and get [the neutral-site game] done, but just could not work out the dates.” West Virginia is scheduled to play at Missouri and home against NC State in 2019.
Florida State has neutral site games lined up in 2016 (vs. Ole Miss in Orlando) and 2017 (vs. Alabama in Atlanta), and still has some scheduling holes to fill in 2018 and beyond. As a member of the ACC, Florida State is required to play one game each season against another power conference opponent. This is typically satisfied annually with a game against Florida, but Notre Dame also pops up on the FSU schedule in 2018 (in South Bend). Florida State also has a home-and-home series with Boise State slated to start in 2019. West Virginia has no such power conference scheduling requirement in the Big 12.
West Virginia currently has its own line-up of neutral site games coming up in addition to the 2018 game in Charlotte. The Mountaineers are scheduled to face BYU (2016) and Virginia Tech (2017) in FedEx Field. Lyons is also reportedly working on adding more neutral site games (and the big paydays that tend to come with them), suggesting a potential return to Atlanta in 2020. No opponent has been linked to the chatter just yet, but Lyons expects it to come against another power conference team. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff has always had a team from either the ACC or SEC, if not both.
West Virginia and Florida State were previously scheduled to do a home-and-home in 2012 and 2013, but that series was scrapped as West Virginia moved into the Big 12. Perhaps this series is toast.