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What Is The Expectation vs. What Is The Reality For West Virginia Football?

“Well what do you want, the expectation or what is realistic?”

NCAA Football: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

“Sunday, Bloody Sunday” sang U2 in 1983 - about the horrors of the 1972 Bogside Massacre in Derry, Ireland - but they could have also been singing about the Sunday following the last regular season game for college football coaches. In total, 13 coaches have resigned or been fired since the start of the 2017 college football season, including 7 this past weekend.

West Virginia Mountaineers fans are known for their loyalty and their dedication to the Mountaineers but many fans heeding the words of former athletic director Oliver Luck are wondering out loud if we should be looking to make a change. Luck famously said

“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.

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.”

Six years into the Dana Holgorsen tenure at WVU, the trophy case remains vacant of a national trophy. So, the question is being asked, is a coaching change necessary?

Well, if you want a change, you need to look at what are your expectations and what is the reality? While listening to the ESPN Campus Conversation podcast last night on my drive home, the hosts were talking about the Tennessee debacle. If you haven’t heard, former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones was fired before the end of the season. The AD met with current Ohio State Buckeyes defensive coordinator and former Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano. The two had an agreement to announce Schiano as the next head coach at Tennessee. Talk shows got ahold of the information and in a matter of hours, the fan base was up in arms about the news. It got so bad that Twitter and Facebook were ablaze in comments that forced Tennessee to withdraw the job from Schiano.

Sports: Schiano Tennessee Fan Reaction Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

The hosts asked “What are the expectations and reality at Tennessee” to which they laughed and said “Well what do you want? The expectations or the reality”. This is a strong point. If you want to make a coaching change, what is your expectation and is that expectation in line with the reality of your school, your situation and your recruiting base?

So what are the expectation for West Virginia fans? Many point to Oliver Luck’s words and say “This is our expectation. We expect to compete for Big 12 and national championships. If we aren’t improving yearly to that goal, then a change is necessary”. National championship aspirations are always good but are they in line with reality? The fact is for West Virginia, the answer is no. They have only competed for one national title, in 1988. They were in line in 2007 but couldn’t win a rivalry game. That doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to win a championship but it isn’t currently in line with the reality of the program.

Even without the national championship dreams, is a coaching change necessary? West Virginia, since joining the Big 12 in 2012, is 43-33 overall and 27-27 in the Big 12. They have never won a conference championship and they have never controlled their own destiny going into the final two weekends.

History has shown that if you change coaches because your dreams are bigger than your reality, you will fail. Check out the information from this SBNation article.

  • On the heels of 11- and nine-win seasons, Boston College pushed Jeff Jagodzinski out because he deigned to interview for other jobs. They were 2-10 four years later and haven’t reached nine wins since.
  • Ron Zook took Illinois to nine wins and a Rose Bowl in 2007, and after a two-year reset, got them back to 7-6 in both 2010 and 2011. He was fired. Illinois has averaged 3.7 wins per year since.
  • Dan McCarney won at least seven games five times in a six-year span at Iowa State but was let go after a 4-8 downturn in 2006. ISU has not topped seven wins since, though that could change with an upcoming bowl game.
  • Ralph Friedgen took Maryland to seven bowls in 10 years, and after a two-win collapse in 2009, rebounded to nine wins in 2010. Maryland has averaged 4.7 wins per year since firing him.
  • NC State pushed Tom O'Brien out in 2012 after 24 wins in three years. Their best three-year win total since: 22.
  • David Cutcliffe won seven or more games for five straight years at Ole Miss, peaking with a 10-win campaign in 2003. But after a 4-7 reset in 2004, he was fired. The Rebels would top four wins twice in the next seven years.
  • Pitt pushed Dave Wannstedt out after after 26 wins in three years. The Panthers have averaged 6.6 wins since.
  • Despite seven ranked finishes in 11 years, Syracuse fired Paul Pasqualoni after he hit a dry spell. He went 4-8 in 2002 then rebounded to only 6-6 in 2003-04. Syracuse went 10-37 under replacement Greg Robinson and has averaged 4.4 wins since Pasqualoni.
  • Phil Fulmer took Tennessee to 15 bowls and five SEC championship games in 16 years. He won the national title in 1998 and won at least eight games 14 times. He fell to 5-6 in 2005 but rebounded back to 10 wins in 2007. After a second five-win reset in 2008, he was fired. The Vols have hit the eight-win mark twice in the nine years since.

Texas A&M Aggies just fired Kevin Sumlin, who went 51-26 at A&M, never had a losing season, had Top 25 recruiting classes and was 3-2 in bowl games. Arizona State Sun Devils fired Todd Graham, the former Pitt head coach, after going 7-5 this season and 46-31 at ASU. You can watch those two schools to see if going after new coaches puts them in line with the other schools who thought they were bigger than their britches, or will they find a diamond in the rough and ascend to greater heights?

West Virginia fans should take note of where coaches go this season and be careful what you wish for. Dana Holgorsen hasn’t won as much as he should at WVU but moving on from him doesn’t always work out the way you plan for it to.


What is your expectation for WVU yearly?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Undefeated National Champs or Bust!
    (81 votes)
  • 19%
    10+ wins
    (498 votes)
  • 63%
    8-10 wins
    (1617 votes)
  • 12%
    7-9 wins
    (330 votes)
  • 1%
    6+ wins
    (30 votes)
2556 votes total Vote Now

I almost finished this article without giving my final thoughts. So I will do so here. What are my expectations for West Virginia? In my opinion, WVU needs to be a 6-6/7-5 as a floor. If a head coach has a losing season, like WVU did in 2013, that can be tolerated if there are just things that happen. Two losing seasons in a row is grounds for firing. WVU should, at minimum, be bowl eligible on an annual basis. WVU needs to be inline to compete for a Big 12 Championship at least once every 5-7 years and should be in line for 10 wins every 4-5 years. Failing to do so would be a backslide for West Virginia.