Mountaineers hire Dana Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has been hired for the same position at West Virginia next season, and the Mountaineers plan to make him head coach in 2012.
In the deal announced Wednesday, Holgorsen will replace Jeff Mullen as offensive coordinator and become "head coach-in-waiting" in 2011.
He will replace head coach Bill Stewart for the 2012 season. The university said Stewart will take an administrative role after the 2011 season.
The Mountaineers released a statement to announce the hiring.
"My goal is to win a national championship at West Virginia University, and I firmly believe that Coach Stewart has built a solid foundation, which will allow us to compete with the very best in the country," Holgorsen said in the statement.
Holgorsen isn't expected to join the Mountaineers until after West Virginia (9-3) faces North Carolina State (8-4) in the Champ Sports Bowl on Dec. 28.
Holgorsen will have a six-year deal, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad. WVU said Holgorsen will be paid $800,000 in 2011 and that will increase to $1.4 million, plus incentives, in 2012. He made $360,000 at Oklahoma State this season but did not have a signed contract with the university.
Stewart, 58, is making $900,000 this season.
West Virginia has gone 28-11 in three seasons under Stewart, whose six-year contract runs through 2014. When reached by The Associated Press on Wednesday night, Stewart said he was in a meeting and couldn't talk.
"I think the transition year for Coach Holgorsen will be very beneficial to the football program, and the opportunity to learn from Coach Bill Stewart should not be underestimated," West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said in the statement. "Coach Holgorsen is one of the top coaches in college football. We know that Coach Holgorsen will bring a high-powered offense that will be incredibly entertaining to watch at Milan Puskar Stadium."
Waning fan interest may have also contributed to the move. West Virginia sold out just one home game this season and there were almost 12,000 empty seats for the regular-season finale against Rutgers; there has also been a decrease from 38,000 to 34,000 in season-ticket base. West Virginia believes hiring the leader of one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation will create excitement.
In Holgorsen's only season at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys led the Bowl Subdivision with 537.6 yards per game while running back Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Justin Blackmon were named first-team All-Americans. His offenses at Houston were also among the most proficient in the country in 2008 and 2009 with quarterback Case Keenum.
Before becoming West Virginia's AD in July, Luck was president of the Houston Dynamos soccer franchise for five years and was familiar with Holgorsen's explosive offenses.
West Virginia could use the offensive help. The Mountaineers ranked 64th in total offense at nearly 377 yards. The Mountaineers surpassed 35 points in three of their last four games and surpassed 30 points six times this season but scored 14 points or fewer in all three losses and two of those were blamed on turnover problems.
Holgorsen was a finalist for the Broyles Award given annually to the nation's top college assistant coach. Oklahoma State was picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 South this season.
A native of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Holgorsen played at Iowa Wesleyan and has been coaching since 1993. He was also on the staff at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2007, including as co-offensive coordinator his final three seasons. He also held jobs at Valdosta State, Mississippi College and Wingate.
Holgorsen was also a candidate for the opening at Pittsburgh.
Stewart has been under constant scrutiny since he was named interim coach after Rich Rodriguez's sudden departure for Michigan after the 2007 regular season ended. Stewart led the Mountaineers to a win in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma and was named head coach in the early morning hours after the game.
Stewart said he is proud of his accomplishments, including three straight nine-win seasons and a Big East co-championship this season.
"I took over as head coach in a very challenging time, and we have faced every obstacle with a passion to bring nothing but the best to West Virginia football," he said.
Information from ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.