As the 2018 college football season winds down, the coaching carousel begins to spin.
On Sunday, the Kansas Jayhawks announced the hire of former LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles to replace David Beaty, grabbing all the headlines, but it wasn’t the only move made by a Power 5 school. Colorado cut ties with Mike MacIntyre after he posted a 33-44 record in 6 seasons, largely in part due to the Buffaloes starting the 2018 season 5-0 before heading into a tailspin that saw them lose the following 6 games.
As with every major head coaching job, names have begun to get floated around and this time Dana Holgorsen is included among the candidates. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples, Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel, and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg have all linked the Mountaineer head coach to the opening as a possible replacement in Boulder.
The question now becomes how much fire is there to all this smoke? Why would Dana Holgorsen leave West Virginia for a Pac-12 team that is, at best, a lateral move? Is this just Dana trying to make a power play for a contract extension, a la Mike Gundy in each of the last 5 seasons at Oklahoma State?
While it’s true that Colorado isn’t exactly a blue blood, a move to Boulder would allow an easier path to a conference title and the College Football Playoffs. It would also allow Dana to get back into recruiting the state of Texas, which he obviously has deep ties to from his time at Houston, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Holgorsen has spent eight seasons at West Virginia and is currently the second behind Don Nehlen in total wins. He could just be looking for a change in scenery.
On the other hand, it’s very much possible that we’re seeing Dana’s name floated out for this job because he wants it out there to force WVU athletic director Shane Lyons’ hand in hopes for a contract extension. Holgorsen likely knows that next season is going to be an uphill battle due to the talent that will be graduating and leaving the program for the NFL after this season, and knows that it’s in his best interest to get locked into a contract now rather than what could be another 6-6 type season. Lyons could potentially call Holgorsen’s bluff and elect to revisit the conversation after the 2019 season.
The Buffaloes are on the hook for nearly $10 million to buyout MacIntyre’s contract, and if Holgorsen were to leave West Virginia he would owe somewhere between $1 million to $3 million to the University.