New West Virginia offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen is in a lot of hot water after a bizarre incident in which he was kicked out of a casino last month. But as you’re about to find out, Holgorsen doesn’t do anything by the book.
When West Virginia hired Holgorsen, it did so to work under straight-laced coach Bill Stewart before taking over for him. Holgorsen will be the school’s offensive coordinator in 2011 and its head coach in 2012.
He hopes, at least.
On May 18, Holgorsen was escorted from the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort after 3 AM. West Virginia’s Herald-Dispatch reported that it may have been the coach’s sixth alcohol-related incident in the last six months. He arrived at WVU in January.
Prior to his arrival in Morgantown, Holgorsen’s reputation was of someone who walks to the beat of his own drum, like his mentor Mike Leach.
“Our personalities are much different,” his former boss, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, told The Oklahoman last year. “I’m very Type A, structured, organized. I feel guilty if I don’t show up early and stay late.
“His personality is not all the way to Mike Leach, but it’s somewhere in between.”
That laid-back personality shows itself on the field, where Holgorsen can be found with his long hair and most often in sandals that has drawn comparisons to Matthew McConaughy (at least Holgorsen keeps his shirt on). Holgorsen could show up in pajamas considering his success.
He took over Oklahoma State’s offense in 2010 and the Cowboys finished third in scoring average with 44.2 PPG – up nearly 16 points from the year before.
Holgorsen is a workaholic, regularly working from 9 a.m. to midnight in an attempt to figure out new ways to pile up points in Leach’s “Air Raid Offense.” It wasn’t just a copycat move of his old boss by Holgorsen. He has ties to Leach all the way back to Division II Valdosta State, where Holgorsen was a position coach under Leach, the offensive coordinator.
Holgorsen eventually ended up at Texas Tech – under Leach for seven years – and Houston. He tutored quarterbacks, served time as offensive coordinator and generally led prolific offensive units before making his mark in Stillwater.
With the Cowboys, he helped turn Brandon Weeden into an All-Big 12 quarterback and wide receiver Justin Blackmon into the Fred Biletnikoff winner.
Yeah, he has got credentials, but all that work comes at a price.
To his ex-wife Candice – whom he divorced in 2005 – and his three young children, Holgorsen is a coaching lifer who spends nearly every waking hour in his office.
“Once this week starts, I’m pretty much by myself, yeah,” Candice Holgorsen told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal prior to Texas Tech’s 2003 spring practice when the two were still together.
“That’s pretty much how it is. But they have a lot of time off in the summer that makes up for the time in the office. Its a lot of fun, though. I couldn’t imagine Dana doing anything else.”
And that’s the thing about Holgorsen: He loves coaching, even if he doesn’t approach the job like everyone else.
In fact, Holgorsen refused to buy a house while in Stillwater, preferring – as a divorced bachelor – to live out of a hotel room because everything was taken care of for him.
Just like living at home with mom, even with the benefit of sleeping in.
“He’ll tell you, ‘I don’t prefer to come to the office before 9 a.m.,’ ” Gundy told The Oklahoman. “He doesn’t like to get up in the mornings. But he’ll stay late. His personality is different.
“It is culture shock for traditional coaches. I knew a lot about him as a person. So I knew I had to be wiling to make adjustments in order to allow him to do what he does best. I’ve not had any issues whatsoever with him.”
The problem is that while Holgorsen was living like a college kid in Stillwater, he’s been partying like one in Morgantown.
Getting kicked out of a casino at 3 AM is bad enough and then came reports that there could have been up to six alcohol-related incidents in the last six months. His exploits also have put athletic director Oliver Luck, who was just hired in Morgantown last summer, under fire.
While many wanted Holgorsen to admit a drinking problem and enter rehab, it appears the issue has been closed for now with a public apology and Holgorsen promising “I will not put myself in that situation again.”
If he does, the party will officially be over.