Football: Luck, Stewart and Holgorsen Quotes
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Coach Dana Holgorsen Introduction Press Conference
Director of Athletics Oliver Luck
I would like to welcome coach (Dana) Holgorsen to Morgantown, and I would like to thank coach (Bill) Stewart for all that he has done and will do for our football program.
I’m very excited about the future of our football program with coach Stewart at the helm next year, alongside coach (Jeff) Casteel and our defensive staff. With coach Holgorsen coming in, I think we just have a tremendous lineup for our coaches, and I think that will be reflected in our productivity and our results on the field.
It’s been a very hectic last four-five weeks, and I certainly have no plans during this press conference to revisit any timelines or things that have happened. I have walked folks through, and I think you are all very aware of how we got to this point.
I do want to say that I expect from all of our coaches, led by coach Stewart, coach Holgorsen and coach Casteel, a lot of professionalism during this transition. I have mentioned, I studied the transition models of Wisconsin and Oregon, and I think those transitions went extraordinarily well and were reflected by great results on the field and great experiences for the student-athletes.
Given that, in my mind, coach Stewart is a consummate professional, as is everyone else, I have no doubt that this will be a smooth transition and will benefit the student-athletes, and at the end of the day that’s really why we’re in this business.
The transition will start right after the bowl game. I know that coach Stewart and his staff are focused, rightfully so, on the bowl game. Our kids have had a great week practice and are excited to go down and play NC State. It will be a real good test for us.
We’re excited about the bowl and we’re excited about 2011, 2012 and beyond.
Football coach Bill Stewart
I pushed the team really hard, and this morning after an early wake-up call, we had a tremendous lift, a film session and then I brought the team together and talked to them about our preparation for the NC State Wolfpack. I talked to them about the pride of West Virginia and why we’re going to Orlando. I talked to them about representing the Old Gold and Blue.
We have worked very hard and diligently, and we have been after the task at hand, which is to beat the Wolfpack. Your Mountaineers have worked just like mine mules in a typical West Virginia fashion.
We have worked and worked, and I think we’ll be ready to play the football game. NC State is a very explosive football team and a good football team. We have to go down and play our best. If we play our best, it should turn out just fine.
Now on to the 2011 season. I’m very excited to stand here as the CEO of this football program and the West Virginia University family and tell you that Dana Holgorsen is a tremendous football coach, a very innovative coach and a heck of a person. I met him, and I was pleased with our meeting. We got along very well. I’ve watched him and his offenses, and we’re very excited about Dana coming on board as our offensive coordinator.
This will be a very smooth transition. Our defensive staff will remain intact. Once Dana and I get back on Jan. 1, we’ll sit down and let him implement ideas and schemes in preparation of getting the finest offensive staff we can compile.
I can tell you this – the direction of West Virginia football is good, it’s in great hands and will continue to be in great hands. I thank Oliver for this opportunity. With Jeff Casteel and Dana Holgorsen, I do believe it’s going to be a very exciting 2011. I can’t wait for that, but first we have a task at hand, and that is to whip the NC State Wolfpack, and that is the ultimate goal right now. That’s what we have our sights set on.
Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgorsen
Thank you, Oliver, for the opportunity to be a part of the West Virginia football program, community and family, as well as the great state of West Virginia.
Just like what you guys (the WVU football team) are about to do, my next step is to get on a plane and fly to San Antonio and try to finish what I started at Oklahoma State, which is to get from 10 wins to 11 wins. I’ll spend the next week in San Antonio trying to make that happen.
Come Jan. 1, I’m 100 percent in on trying to make this place just a little bit better. With that said, I’m aware of what the program has done in the last six years. When you get 60 wins in six years, that’s pretty dog-gone good. If I can, I want to make just a little difference offensively and work really well with Jeff Casteel, who I have a ton of respect for. He’s well known throughout the coaching circles for what he’s accomplished over the last 10 years. When you’re in the top 10 in defense, traditionally, that means you’re doing something well, and if you’re doing it consistently, you’re a good football coach. I’m really looking forward to working with him as well.
A lot of people ask what my philosophy is. Offensively speaking, what we try to do, outside of trying to get first downs and touchdowns, is to teach these guys how to play smart. If you don’t turn the ball over, and you don’t have penalties, and you move forward, you have a chance to be successful. Making sure that the guys play hard is incredibly important. What I mean by playing hard is not going out there and giving effort, which is important, but being a physical football team is also important.
I can assure you that I don’t want to lineup at five-wide all the time. If you studied what I’ve done over the last three years, you have tight ends, fullbacks and various backs involved. We do want to run the football as much as we want to throw the football, and you have to be physical in order to do that.
Playing fast is something that’s really important. The game is changing. The days of doing what Jim Harbaugh is doing at Stanford is somewhat transitioning a little bit. The game is changing to more of a spread offense, and more people are wanting to do the spread, which makes what these guys do here defensively incredibly important because it is designed to stop the spread. I’ll probably have some headaches at practice going against Jeff.
Playing fast, tempo, having a good rhythm, moving the ball fast and making it very exciting is kind of what we’re about. If you do those three things, and you win, then you can have fun. I never want to go to work and not have fun. I never want these kids to go out to practice or out to a game and not have fun. I think having a philosophy of keeping it loose and letting the guys be themselves, while also making sure you’re doing things right like playing smart, hard and fast, lets you have a chance of being successful.
This is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I can’t wait for my six years ahead of me. I’ve been at four different places in the last five years, and I’m tired of moving. I’m tired of living in a hotel. I look forward to making this home, and I’m really excited.
On questions of head coach delegations in 2011
If I thought it was going to be a problem, I wouldn’t be here. I have a lot of respect for coach Stewart and for what he’s done. I know what kind of person he is. I have a lot of respect for Oliver, for what he’s accomplished and the kind of person that he is.
At the end of the day, it’s about surrounding yourself with good people and hiring good people. If everyone’s on the same page, it gives you a chance to win football games. If I come to work on Jan. 1, and there’s people fighting each other, then you’re not going to win games. I think we’re all comfortable with each other at this point, and we know that if we’re all on the same page you have a chance to win. I’m not too concerned, and I’m excited about being around a bunch of good people.
On courtships with other universities
I don’t talk about that. I didn’t talk about this one, and I didn’t talk about the rest of them. I don’t ever shop myself around. I don’t think that is necessary. I think the people that do shop themselves around have agendas and don’t focus on the task at hand.
Throughout the course of this season, I took it one week at a time. We were in a routine. We played well for the majority of the time, and that was what was important. You never like to lose, which the two games we lost I wasn’t happy about, but then you just have to get past them the next day.
I don’t shop jobs, and I don’t talk about jobs.
On the hiring process for new assistant coaches
We’re not too concerned with that right now. What we’re concerned with is West Virginia winning its bowl game and Oklahoma State winning its bowl game. Once that’s over, then we can move on to the next chapter.
In a perfect world, this press conference would have happened nine days from now.
On why he will fit in at West Virginia University
The biggest thing is these two guys (Luck and Stewart). You want to go somewhere where you are surrounded by good people and where you are in a position to win football games. There are a lot of places out there that are facing an uphill battle as far as winning games. It’s not a perfect situation at other places. Here, it’s 60 wins in six years. You have a chance to win and be with some good people that are all focused on winning a championship. It was a pretty easy decision.
On getting to know the WVU student-athletes
That will happen, probably sometime in February, with recruiting being so important in January. It was the same situation for me last year at Oklahoma State. I got started there in February. I learned something more about the offense every day in that month and leading up to Spring ball.
There’s plenty of time in February to get to know these kids and figure out where we need to line them up.
On starting work at WVU as soon as possible
It’s just not realistic with the situation that is at hand. West Virginia has some coaches that have coached these guys and won some games. Their job needs to be completed as well. It’s actually worked out pretty well, because I have a strong relationship with some guys back there and I want to finish that job there, and the coaches that are here are pretty excited about finishing their jobs, too.
On offensive players adapting to his system
Our first year, at Houston, I went into a staff that was already assembled with four returning starters, and I feel like the system we have is easy to teach and easy to grasp. It makes sense, and it’s all about putting it in their (the student-athletes) hands and getting them as good as we can at it. We were second in the country in offense, so things worked out ok.
Last year, I came into a staff that had four guys already, and implemented it with four returning starters and we led the nation this year, granted it was only by one yard. That (yards) isn’t even really the stuff that matters. What I was looking forward to next year was having everyone back and getting at the stuff that matters, like turnover margin, least amount of sacks and negative plays. Points-per-game is pretty important, but third-down conversions and red zone offense isn’t really at the top of national statistics.
I think it (his offense) makes sense to them, and once it makes sense to them and they get it, we line them up, try not to move them around and just keep running reps.
On the recruiting process
I haven’t talked about this to any of the guys I recruited to Oklahoma State. I just turned it over to the guys that are there, which I think is the correct thing to do.
Here, there’s a lot of work ahead of us. I’ve said it my whole career – December is the busiest month for a coach, and January is the second-busiest. There are a lot of things that we have to discuss. We have to find out who’s out there, what we have and what we need to go get.
On coaching with the pressure of winning a national championship
You mean this isn’t the only place that wants a national championship? It’s hard, and it’s a challenge, but if you’re at a place that has a chance to get that accomplished, you’re at the right place. We’ll work hard and do our best.
On interviewing current WVU offensive coaches for job possibilities
I will talk to them and evaluate what we have and what we need. On my end, there are some guys I’m pretty adamant on talking to to see if they're a fit for here. If you get an opportunity to hire a couple of guys, you can’t just hire your best friends. You have to go out there and see what the position is, what you need, what the recruiting aspects are and where they need to recruit. There are a lot of things that go into that, and you just don’t make that decision over night.
On his own recruiting in Eastern areas
I haven’t. My recruiting ties are Texas and Florida. The jobs that I have had are the areas I have recruited. I’m’ well-aware here of the areas I need to recruit. Coach Stewart and I will have some conversations about who we need to get where.
On past mentors’ coaching influences
It started with Hal Mumme. I played for him, and he started doing this kind of offense 20-25 years ago. I had the opportunity to play for him at Iowa Wesleyan, and then coached for him at Valdosta State. He researched it, developed the system based on various trips to BYU, the Green Bay Packers and local high schools in the Texas area. He developed it, believed it and ran with it. He was on top of the world at one point there. The X’s and O’s, as far as how you coach, I learned from him.
I hooked back up with Mike Leach at Texas Tech in 2000. Just the organizational skills of what he does on a daily basis are pretty impressive. The way he organizes practices and his players – he makes sure the guys get the reps the need to get. He was able to remain calm throughout the whole game – he’s good at that. Good or bad, he has the same facial expression throughout the whole game. Maintaining a level head, regardless of the situation.
About this time three years ago, I made the decision to leave him and go work for Kevin Sumlin at Houston. People thought I was crazy to leave the BIG 12 to go to Conference USA. I left for two reasons – I was tired of telling Mike to punt, and I wanted to make those decisions, as far as deciding what to do on third and fourth down. Being able to do it on my own, and working for Sumlin, were two things that were important to me. I learned a lot from Kevin, as far as just being able to manage a program. He did bounce some things off of me from a tempo standpoint, since he was coming off of getting beat by WVU in the Fiesta Bowl. He took the Houston job and said you have to play as fast as you can; keep doing what you’re doing, but do it fast.
He’s a good friend, and I’m thankful for the opportunity he gave me three years ago.
On building a program and his goals for WVU
I want to keep Jeff Casteel happy. My job for a whole year is just to get the offense where we want it, then to keep him happy after that. Keep the offense the same, keep the defense the same and then just evaluate where I think things need to be at in a year and make as little changes as we possibly can.
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