There are some obvious things to take from the Dana Holgorsen era at WVU so far. After starting hot with a 10-3 record and a Big East and Orange Bowl Championship WVU's win-loss record has fizzled. The Mountaineers finished 2011 by winning their final three regular season games by a total of seven points, but since that time have suffered a late season collapse every year. Offensive performance has been explosive at times, but uneven and inconsistent with offensive line and running back problems. Defensive performance has seen steady improvement in Big 12 play after an absolutely atrocious performance by the 2012 team. The level of difficultly and strength of schedule faced by the Mountaineers in the Big 12 is greater than that which either of Holgorsen's two predecessors encountered. So what does all this mean in determining Holgorsen's performance?
It's hard to say. The biggest problem with judging Holgorsen's performance is that there is no definitive reason to keep him or fire him, and because of that valid arguments can be made for both positions. He has beaten a team ranked in the top fifteen each year in the Big 12, but has lost several close games that would have changed the trajectory of entire seasons. So does he get credit for the Mountaineers being on the cusp of special seasons, or does he get penalized for not breaking through? He has had one special season, one terrible season, and two mediocre seasons. Of those two mediocre seasons one began with high expectations and the other began with no expectations. Does he get penalized for underperforming with a team expected to win the Big 12, or credit for exceeding expectations with a team not expected to compete in the Big 12? The staffs assembled by Holgorsen have suffered a lot of turnover, but bringing Tom Bradley in and elevating Tony Gibson to Defensive Coordinator has seemed to pay dividends. In addition, the staff seems to possess a high level of recruiting prowess. Joe Deforest aside, most people seem to like the current staff of assistant coaches.
One thing is for certain 2015 should be make or break. Its time for something definitive to happen one way or the other. Some of the safeguards enjoyed by Dana Holgorsen are no longer in place, most notably the departure of Oliver Luck and the fact that after the 2015 season there are only two seasons left on the term of his contract. The second point is important because if WVU terminates Holgorsen (except for cause) at any point before the contract is up they owe him his remaining salary for whatever length of time is left on the contract. So each year that passes it becomes cheaper to terminate the contract. Despite losing their top playmakers in Kevin White, Mario Alford, and Clint Trickett the Mountaineers have the majority of the team coming back next year. With the bulk of the team and staff returning, and a promising recruiting class coming in the Mountaineers should be expected to have a breakout season. If that does not happen the new Athletic Director may be able to put his/her stamp on the program relatively soon.