Getting to Know Dana Holgorsen

By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
December 18, 2010 09:43 AM

Dana Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Future West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen has spent the last few days making his rounds on the talk show circuit before helping Oklahoma State prepare for its Dec. 29 game against Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.

Holgorsen said Thursday on the "John and Lance Show" on Houston's 1560-AM KGOW that he was going to be in Stillwater, Okla., this weekend for practice and then would meet up with the team in San Antonio later next week at the bowl site.

Thursday afternoon WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck mentioned the possibility of Holgorsen making a quick trip to Morgantown to meet with reporters before returning to Texas, although nothing was definite.

"My job starts up there (West Virginia) in two weeks," Holgorsen said. "It's going to be a process. One of the things Oliver told me was the commitment is high on their end so the commitment has got to be high on my end. I'm excited about getting started up there the first of January."

Holgorsen said that it will take some time to put his offensive plan in place at WVU.

"We're not going to get everything accomplished in a week," he said. "It's going to take some time to understand the lay of the land and get to know your personnel and just try to move it to the next level."

Holgorsen also said he thought it was time to settle down a little bit. After spending eight years living in Lubbock, Texas while working at Texas Tech, Holgorsen said he has made four moves in the last five years.

"I'm kind of tired of moving around and I'm ready to settle in and focus on one specific place for a long time," he said.

Other bits and pieces from Holgorsen's first expansive interview since the announcement that he would be West Virginia's offensive coordinator for the 2011 season and would assume the head coaching position in 2012 …

On what he took from his eight years working with Mike Leach at Texas Tech … "He's really organized," Holgorsen said. "Mike, offensively, how we organized the offense, how we practiced the offense and the practice schedules in general … he was incredibly organized when it game to that. I took a lot of that stuff and it really hasn't changed a lot at all - how you practice, what plays you run on specific days and all of that was really something that I thought was pretty good."

On what he took from his last three years working as Kevin Sumlin's offensive coordinator at Houston and Mike Gundy's offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State … "Kevin had a really good handle on the whole team. Mike Gundy was doing the same thing as Mike Leach a year ago and he saw what Kevin was doing as kind of CEO of the program and wanted to go in that direction. I've seen it both ways and when I have the opportunity to do it, it is going to be along the lines of what Kevin Sumlin is doing at Houston."

On his recruiting philosophy when he takes over at West Virginia … "Really there are three pockets and Florida is huge," Holgorsen said. "They've got a ton of athletes from Florida and they've got lots of connections from Florida. Then you've got the Washington, D.C.-Virginia area, which has got a lot of good athletes, and then they get lots of linemen from Pennsylvania and Ohio."

Holgorsen said it would be important to hire a staff of coaches that are familiar with those recruiting areas.

"You are going to need about four or five guys on your staff that are comfortable going down into Florida and know the area," he explained. "I don't need to bring a bunch of people that having nothing but Texas ties to West Virginia and then expect them to go recruit Florida.

"It's going to be part of the hiring process to get that done," he added. "Oliver had made it very clear with TCU going into the Big East that Texas has produced a lot of good football players, especially Houston and Dallas, and if you get to areas close to an airport - if you jump on an airplane and fly an hour to Oklahoma State there is really not a lot of difference than jumping on an airplane and flying two hours to West Virginia.

"Houston is an area that we're going to get into a little bit and Dallas as well."

On his familiarity with the Mountaineer football program … "I went out there two weeks ago and that was the first time I had been out there," Holgorsen said. "It's a great college town. The whole thing is about West Virginia University. The support is there, the attendance is there and I think the whole community is what the school is about.

"The history of what West Virginia has done the last 10 years is pretty good."

On his relationship with Oliver Luck … "Oliver Luck is a really great guy and I know everybody (in Houston) knows him. He's proactive and innovative and he's a guy that you can get along with, which is important as far as relationships within your administration. You've got to be able to communicate with people and get along with people and be on the same page.

"You couple that with the fact that West Virginia has won on average 7 to 9 games a year for the last 10 years and it's an opportunity to win."

On the importance of offensive line play in college football … "The line is the most important position. That is more important than having a tough quarterback, or having a wide receiver that can make a play down field or a running back that can carry the ball 25 times," he said.

"You can deal with a receiver coach or a running back coach that has a different philosophy, but if you and the O-line coach are on the same page then you've got a chance."

On working with Bill Stewart … "Bill Stewart is a great person. His heart is West Virginia University. He was born there and has been there a long, long time. He wants what's best for the university. I get to learn from him and kind of get a lay of the land so to speak for a whole year and kind of get to evaluate the whole program and make suggestions as far as how I need to make it better.

"Job No. 1 is to get the offense going and install it, get it in place, teach people, and then kind of in the back of my mind evaluate and see what can be done to make it better."

On what he knows about WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel … "Jeff Casteel is an unbelievable defensive coordinator. He's probably been top 10 in the country defensively for the last 10 years at West Virginia," Holgorsen said. "I met with Jeff and he's a really good guy and a great football coach. He's in place. He's not going anywhere. His reputation precedes himself and the numbers speak for themselves. He's going to keep doing what he's doing. I don't anticipate that changing."