Athlon Sports doesn’t think too highly of West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, as evidenced by its off-season rankings of Big 12 head coaches.
Holgorsen comes in at No. 9 on the list, just one above Kansas coach Charlie Weis, after the first losing season for West Virginia since former coach Rich Rodriguez’s first season in 2001 at Morgantown. This is a move down one position from No. 8 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings from 2013.
Here’s how the coaches in the rest of the conference shakes out, according to Athlon:
- Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
- Art Briles, Baylor
- Bill Snyder, Kansas State
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
- Gary Patterson, TCU
- Charlie Strong, Texas
- Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
- Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
- Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
- Charlie Weis, Kansas
No matter how loyal the fan, there is no arguing Holgorsen’s placement on Athlon's list considering West Virginia’s 4-8 season in year two as a member of the Big 12.
West Virginia is currently on a three-game losing streak against conference opponents after a 30-27 overtime win over TCU in November. With a disappointing 2013, the team collected just two wins in the Big 12--TCU and an upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State in September--down from four in the inaugural year in the conference.
Historically, West Virginia also finished the 1992 season with losses in the final three games of the season and tailed only two wins against conference opponents in the program’s second year in the Big East Conference.
Obviously, there were going to be early growing pains for West Virginia with the move from the aforementioned Big East to the Big 12, which features yearly championship contenders like Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State. That’s a significant jump in competition from playing the likes of Rutgers, Syracuse and South Florida every year.
The loss of Tavon Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey to the NFL last season should have been labeled 2013 as a transition year for West Virginia, lowering expectations from fans on how the team would do without the trio’s tremendous talent.
The lone bright spot of what has been a dismal two years in the Big 12 for Holgorsen is knowing that help is on the way in the form of the incoming recruiting class and new hires to the coaching staff.
West Virginia currently has the No. 15 rated overall recruiting class by Rivals for 2015, coming in at No. 3 behind Texas and TCU in the Big 12. This recruiting class features commitments from three-four star and five-three star athletes. Long time Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley also joined the coaching staff as senior associate head coach and defensive line coach this offseason after two years away from the sport as a television analyst for CBS Sports.
With the membership in the Big 12 seemingly not changing with any future conference realignment, West Virginia can now move forward with better game plans for conference opponents as well as adding the right talent on the field to compete on a year-to-year basis.
Holgorsen will need show improvement soon following two disappointing years before he potentially finds himself unable to be a part of any rankings of Big 12 head coaches.
Chris is a writer for the Smoking Musket as well as WVU Pros. You can find this post originally at WVUPros.com. You can follow him on Twitter for thoughts and stats about West Virginia athletics and a great deal of randomness.