Oliver Luck Press Conference
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Director of Athletics Oliver Luck’s quotes from Thursday’s press conference discussing the addition of Dana Holgorsen to the Mountaineer football staff:
Opening Statement ...
“Good afternoon, it’s a great day to be a Mountaineer. I’m extraordinarily excited today to let you all know that Dana Holgorsen will be joining our coaching staff as offensive coordinator for the 2011 football season. I know that all of you here have done your homework and you know about Coach Holgorsen and what his offenses have done, but as someone who really loves the college game and as a former quarterback, I feel obligated to highlight some of his accomplishments, because they really are unbelievable.
“I think as many folks know, he just finished the season as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator serving under coach Mike Gundy. He took over an offense that was 61st in the nation in total yards, and had a first year quarterback, a young man named Brandon Weeden. He finished the season number one in total offense and moved up 60 spots in the national rankings. The statistic that I find amazing is that his quarterback Brandon Weeden and one of his running backs, Kendall Hunter, along with Justin Blackmon (the Biletnikoff award winner and one of their receivers), became only the second trio in NCAA history to pass for at least 3,000 yards, run for more than 1,500 yards and have a receiver that caught passes worth more than 1,500 yards receiving in the same season. I think for our players, Geno (Smith), Tavon (Austin), Brad Starks and Shawne Alston; I think they should be very excited about what kind of an offense they will be playing in come next season. It’s a great opportunity for them.
“Prior to his one year at Oklahoma State, Coach Holgerson was at the University of Houston in 2008 as the offensive coordinator serving under Coach Kevin Sumlin. He finished third in the nation, averaging 562 yards a game and scoring over 40 points a game. In his second year at the University of Houston, he finished number one in the nation, with 563 yards per game, over 42 points per game, and the Cougars ranked number one nationally in passing offense, number one in total offense, number one in scoring offense and, of course, they had a great quarterback down there in Case Keenum.
"I think as you all know, prior to his two years at the University of Houston he was at Texas Tech, in the south plains at beautiful Lubbock. He coached there for eight years, three of which he was offensive coordinator there; of course he served under Mike Leach, who is one of the most ingenious offensive guys in the country. In Dana’s first year at Texas Tech, he finished fourth in total offense and in his last year at Texas Tech he finished third in total offense in the nation. As you know, they’ve had a variety of quarterbacks out of Texas Tech that have done remarkably well.
“What I find amazing is that he’s had this production at three different schools, two of which are in a very tough conference, the Big 12. The combination of this high powered, high octane offense, along with what I think is one of the great defensive staffs in the country, puts us in a remarkable position. Jeff Casteel has done a remarkable job this past year, ranked 2nd in scoring defense in the nation, 2nd in rushing defense in the nation, 3rd in total defense in the nation, 2nd in opponent third down conversions. He and Coach Dunlap, Coach Kirelawich and Coach Lockwood have built a tremendous defense. They’re punishing and they’re physical. I think the combination of that defense along with this high powered high octane offense - under the leadership of Bill Stewart - gives us a lot of excitement about the 2011 season.
“Let me share a thought or two about the transition year. What I expect and what I have shared with our coaches is that I expect a smooth and very professional transition. I have no doubt that we’ll accomplish that because our guys are very professional guys. I have spent some time looking at various transition models in our industry within college football, and there are really two that we are using as our models for transition. First of all, the model that is very impressive and very similar to ours and almost exactly like ours is at the University of Wisconsin, back in 2005-06, when Coach Barry Alvarez, one of the great Big 10 coaches of all-time, segued out in favor of Coach Bret Bielema. Coach Bielema had a one year time table. Coach Alvarez’s last season was 2005 with the Badgers, they finished with a 10-3 record, ranked 15th in the nation, and went on to win the Capital One Bowl. In Coach Bielema’s first year, the Badgers finished 12-1, ranked number 5th in the nation and won the Capital One Bowl. Very successful transition and I had the good fortune of getting to know coach Bielema over the last couple of weeks and have learned a little bit about that transition. Very impressive.
“The other transition model that we’ve looked at and are going to model ourselves after was also extraordinarily successful and it’s at the University of Oregon. Chip Kelly came to Oregon in 2007 to join Mike Bellotti’s staff. Chip had been the offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. He was named coach in waiting in 2008 and became head coach in 2009. Mike Bellotti, someone I’ve gotten to know over the past year or so because of my frequent trips to the West Coast, his last year was 10-3, the Ducks won the Holiday Bowl ranked in the Top 10 that season. Chip Kelly’s first season last year, the Ducks finished 10-3, won the Pac-10, and finished 11th in the nation. If you look at both of those programs, Wisconsin and Oregon - programs that we want to model ourselves after - they are today two of the most successful programs in the country. Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl ranked fifth, and Oregon is of course playing for the national championship game. I think that this transition year will be a very valuable year for Coach Holgerson and a very valuable year for Coach Stewart. It will be an opportunity for Coach Holgerson to learn from a very experienced Coach Stewart, and an opportunity for Coach Stewart to learn from Coach Holgerson, who of course runs this high powered, high octane offense.
“Let me briefly touch on the future. I want the Mountaineer program, and I expect us, to compete at the highest levels. Certainly the goal of our program is to win a national championship. In order to do that, we need to win BIG EAST Championships. As I look out on the horizon, what I see is a rapidly improving BIG EAST, by and large because of the addition of Texas Christian University in 2012. TCU has a tremendous program, ranked third in the country and playing in the Rose Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers, and I think that TCU is going to raise the bar for all of us in the BIG EAST. We need to respond to that and prepare ourselves because I believe that eventually the road to the BIG EAST Championship will go through Fort Worth, and we need to be prepared to beat a team like TCU on the road to win a BIG EAST Championship and get into national championship consideration. I also think, as many previous athletic directors and football and basketball coaches think, that TCU will open up some recruiting areas for us down in the state of Texas. I do think we can begin the process of identifying top players in Texas, Oklahoma and throughout the Southwest that will be good players for our program here.
“Let me thank Bill Stewart for what he is doing for West Virginia University - for the football program. He took over during a very challenging time back in 2007, and acted as the consummate professional, calmed the waters and has done a marvelous job leading our team. I think because of his professionalism, I have all the confidence in the world that our transition year will work very smoothly. I look forward to having two great coordinators, Coach Dana Holgerson and Coach Jeff Casteel, led by a great West Virginian and a great person, Coach Bill Stewart. I’m very much excited about the 2011 season and beyond because I think we will have one exciting brand of football here at Mountaineer filed beginning in 2011.”
On whether or not the transition will go smoothly between Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen …
“I think that Bill Stewart again is the consummate professional, and I think our coaches, Jeff Casteel on the defensive side as a coordinator, and Dana and whatever offensive coaches will be retained and the new ones brought in, will all be professional. I have all the respect in the world for coaches, and after some of my conversations with coaches who went through some of those transition years, I don’t think we’ll have an issue.”
On personnel changes within the offensive and defensive staffs …
“The defensive coaches I think have done a marvelous job and Coach Casteel and I have had a number of conversations. I know Coach Stewart has talked to Coach Casteel, and my hope and expectations are that all of our defensive coaches will remain for a long period of time. I think they’ve done a great job building this punishing and physical defense that really typifies the type of team that we are. On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Holgerson will have authority and autonomy over the offense, in consultation with Coach Stewart of course. He is in the process of talking with the offensive assistants today, and at the end of the day it will be Coach Holgerson’s decision about what assistants are retained and what new assistant coaches on the offensive side he will bring in.”
On personnel changes within the defensive side, specifically …
“The defensive coaches, as I said, I think have done a marvelous job. I hope they all stick around for a long, long time. I think they’re some of the best defensive coaches in the country. They’re all on rolling contracts, all of those contracts on the defensive side can be rolled over and I think we have a tremendous core of defensive coaches.”
On having a personal relationship with Coach Holgerson while living in Houston …
“I first met Dana Holgerson on November 23rd of this past year. I knew of him, of course, having lived in Houston and following college football. I knew of him before he ever got to the University of Houston, but did not meet him until November 23rd of this year.”
On making contact with Coach Holgerson …
“I was in Kansas City for the induction of Jerry West into the College Basketball Hall of Fame and made the side trip a little bit south and west to visit him. I made a trip to visit and talk to a coach who I thought was one of the great offensive coaches in the nation.”
On when Coach Stewart was made aware of the situation …
“Coach Stewart and I met along with Coach Stewart’s advisor and our University General Counsel on November 14th, the Sunday after the Cincinnati game, and at that point Coach Stewart was informed that I was not satisfied with the direction of the program and that changes would be made.”
On Coach Holgerson’s contract …
“Mr. Holgerson signed a letter-of-intent term sheet yesterday, which is a six-year contract, one year as offensive coordinator and then five years as head coach. The contract will be released at the appropriate time. This is a term sheet and the terms will get fleshed out into a full-fledged contract, so at this point I’d rather not discuss the terms in his contract until we get a full-fledged contract signed.”
On Coach Stewart’s contract …
“Coach Stewart’s agreement has been modified. The modification came at the November 14th meeting that Coach Stewart and I had along with the advisor and University General Counsel. The agreement called for two options, one of which was Coach Stewart resigning after this season, the second of which was Coach Stewart staying on for next season. We decided on the option of him staying on for next season as our head football coach.”
On Coach Stewart’s position after the 2011 season …
“We have an agreement that we will sit and talk at the appropriate time and see what Coach Stewart would like to do, what his interests may be; what services we may need here within the department. We have not talked in specifics about that yet.”
On whether the assistant coaches were aware of the situation …
“I can’t speak to their mental awareness; certainly I did not speak with the coaches. Holgerson will have authority over the offensive side of the ball as offensive coordinator and those decisions will happen relatively soon; I know he’s been on the phone with some of the offensive coaches.”
On who will be making the calls on the field in 2011 …
“The responsibility of the head coach in the 2011 season will be no different than any other season. I think every coordinator runs his side of the ball, with some input from Coach Stewart. I don’t sit in on the coaches meetings so I can’t tell you exactly what the input is, but I really don’t see the responsibilities divided up in any different way than they have been in the past.”
On whether Bill Stewart and Dana Holgerson have met …
“They’ve spoken and met, and I’ve been part of some of those conversations. They’ve talked about a variety of topics and I’m sure those topics came up as you would expect when coaches get together and talk about how they want to operate and do things.”
On hearing any reaction from the players …
“I have not spoken to the players; that’s the head coach’s responsibility. I don’t know if or when Coach Stewart has communicated with the players. I do know that they’ve had finals, they are scheduled to have their first bowl practice on Saturday, but I don’t know the answer to that.”
On making a successful transition …
“Those transitions were handled very professionally and in a very transparent fashion. They were very comprehensive and inclusive. The folks that I have spoken to and gotten to know over the years, whether it is Chip Kelly or Mike Bellotti or Bret Bielema, they are all quality people and had the same opportunity there. I think Bill Stewart is an incredibly smart and good person, and good-quality person who is very sincere and loves this University and would never do anything to harm it. I think that Coach Holgerson is a very smart and aggressive and young coach, and I expect nothing other than both of those guys and others on the staff handling it very professionally. I have no doubt that it will be handled as well as it was handled in the Oregon and Wisconsin situations. Those are all big definites, and that’s the key metric that differentiates those transition models from others.”
On speculation about “big donors” being unhappy with the 2010 season …
“I have a responsibility for this athletic department. The President of the University has entrusted me with the department and he’s my direct report. He’s the guy I talk to and I do have conversations with a variety of people. I’m not sure what a ‘big donor’ is; a lot of people contribute to the Mountaineer Athletic Club, whether it’s a seven-figure sum or a three-figure sum. I do talk to a lot of these people. But at the end of the day, I can tell you that I make the decisions that I feel are the best for this program and the University.
On specific reasons for the coaching change …
“At the end of the day results matter. We weren’t getting the results. There’s also a financial component to this. Our season ticket base has declined from Stewart’s first year to the present time. We’ve had two crowds since 2004 under 50,000 and both of those took place in the last couple of years. That to me is an indication that our fans aren’t satisfied with the product, and that factors in as well.”
On the choice of hiring Coach Holgerson instead of other candidates …
“I think Dana Holgerson is one of the great coaches right now in college football. And as I looked at a guy like Dana Holgerson, I thought to myself that he would be a head coach somewhere very soon and I wouldn’t want to prepare against his offense. I wanted him to be at this University to lead us in the long term and that was my thought process because he is one of the great outstanding coaches in college football today and I do think he can lead us to a national championship. These coaches who are in demand have lots of opportunities all across the board and there are all sorts of schools that were interested in Coach Holgerson and I didn’t worry about that. I wanted him to be comfortable with West Virginia and our facilities and stadium and fan base. He believes we can win a national championship and that’s why he came here.”
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