Summer Series Installment #9: West Virginia


So if Matthew McConaughey was balding, could he coach the other West Virginia school on the silver screen?


2010-11: 9-4, Big East: finished 8th ranked Conference, Big 12 2nd

As you know by now, sometimes these two year windows I examine split coaching regimes. However it wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was another example of how there are little positive outcomes to the "head coach in waiting" tag. So what wasn’t supposed to be Head Coach Bill Stewart’s swan song, ended up being such. But I’ll touch on that later. The fact of the matter was, the Mountaineers in 2010 were14 points shy of a 9-0-3 season; or more clearly 17 points shy of being 12-0, including a 14-20 loss in Baton Rouge. This Pre-Dana team was no slouch offensively at 5.3yds a play. So statistically, the cupboard was not left bare by any stretch of the imagination for the 2011 season. The 9-3 regular season finish was good enough to accumulate the third Big East title (as co-champs) in 5 years, but not good enough to provide the cherry on top in the Champs Sports bowl as the NC State Wolfpack rolled the Mountaineers 23-7. One could speculate that HC Bill Stewart’s (RIP) head wasn’t in the bowl-season preparation. Soon after current Head coach Dana Holgerson was announced as the offensive coordinator in late December, and head-coach in waiting, it was apparent something didn’t set right with Stewart. Allegedly coach Stewart asked reporters to dig up dirt on Holgerson. In an attempt to save face for the university, Stewart was asked to speed up the departure plans, by resigning on his own terms. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise model of consistency of a coaching tenure following the departure of Rich-Rod, as the 9-4 mark was repeated three years in a row.

2011-12: 10-3, Big East: finished 6th ranked Conference, Big 12 2nd

Instead of a transition, hands-on baton passing season, it was baptism by fire for current head coach Dana Holgerson. As mentioned above, although Holgy deserves much credit for his team’s offensive reputation, there’s no doubt that the athletes left for him from the previous regime were capable of what they did accomplish in 2011. Once again, the Mountaineers found a 9-3 regular season mark, but gone were the close losses. Instead they averaged 18 point deficits this go around, thanks to LSU, Syracuse and Louisville. This seems to point towards the capability of defensive mental-lapses from time to time. Regardless, it was another Conference championship year, and this go around it netted the AQ BCS bid to the Orange Bowl, in which they dismantled the ACC Champions the Clemson Tigers 70-33. In retrospect, the majority of the speculation of offensive prowess represents how they concluded the year "trending high" with such National exposure. Let’s be honest, you get noticed when you put up 70 pts any time of year, nonetheless in BCS bowl season. However statistically, they can back that up as they averaged near 6.4 yds per play in 2011.

I find myself characterizing the 2012 WVU club as the 2007 Texas Tech team. Sure they could go undefeated, as long as they don’t play Oklahoma. I would see the ceiling (all things go right) as an 11-1 team. I don’t see them running the table in the conference, and frankly I don’t think they go 11-1 either. Their offense will be good, and they obviously have athletes, but they just aren’t strong enough across the board to be a complete team. With a defense that allowed nearly 27 points a game in 2011 against Big East competition, that number should only grow in the Midwest. Combine that with the fact that they’re moving towards a 3-4 scheme, a scheme which I have yet to see work successfully in the Big 12, a scheme that offers little room for mental lapses, I see this team losing a shootout somewhere along the way. If I was a betting man, I would put money on a replication of 2010: 10-3. Whether they get to 10 wins in the regular season, or it takes the bowl game I have no idea.


2010-11: 21-12 Big East: Conference RPI 1st, Big 12 3rd

So I did some reading up on this Head Coach for WVU. I guess the last team that this Robert Huggins coached at was...ok so we all know the story. Instead the real story of the 2010-11 season was how the team was going to follow up what was Coach Huggins' best season, complete with a Final Four appearance. Well there was no matching that success in 10-11. There were actually 5 occasions on the schedule in which the Mountaineers failed to crack 60 points. In those 5 times they were 2-3. Apparently there's a little Big 10 football in the Big East from time to time. The regular season finished up 11-7, and there was a quick exit out of the conference tournament at the hands of Marquette. But much like his student Frank, coach Huggins made sure to win the first round of the NCAA before Kentucky put the final nail in the coffin of the follow-up season in the round of 32.

2011-12: 19-14 Big East Conference RPI 2nd, Big 12 3rd

Now that the expectations of following up a final four season are a thing of the past, surely the pressure of improving on a 21 win season would be much less, right? I guess not. WVU struggled to gear back up with a vengeance, digressing further. In all fairness, the SOS was 15 for the Mountaineer. However of those 18 wins, 5% of that success came in 2OT vs K-State in front of a "not so neutral" Intrust Bank Arena. Once again there were 6 games littered on the schedule in which the 60pt threshold was not breached. In fact somewhere Doc Sadler's squatting wondering why he didn't schedule WVU in a not so neutral Omaha match. Of those performances, the ones that hurt the most was a 44-71 beat down at the hands of the Irish, and the 54-77 "please find your way to the door" from the Chapperone Gonzaga at the Big Dance.

As Coach Huggins and crew move into a new conference, perhaps this is good timing for extra motivation. This might be convenient tool to re-focus the crew as everything will be new. However, it appears Huggins, like his boy Frank can have some horrific offensive nights. And in the Big 12 he can't afford many of those nights. Coming off of 11-7 and 9-9 Big East records, I would expect similar number in the new Big 12 for Coach Huggs. Likely over .500 in conference play. I'll be interested to see how the reception is at Big Monday this season, as it seemed in Wichita it was a relatively warm reception of him. Not to mention KSU is beginning a new era totally divorced now from what Huggs brought to the University. But there's no denying whatever luxuries Bruce has today, is by in large by-product from Huggs' short stint in Manhattan.

*editor's note: As I type that, I think back to my janitorial job at Bramlage when I was in college and when coach Huggs was leaving for the night and there I was at the top of the tunnel with my port-o-pan. Just me and him, and I said "good luck tomorrow coach". Which after he passed I laughed to myself "is that all the better you could come up with?" You see it was the eve before the Washburn exhibition. Turns out, they actually did need my good luck as they ended up narrowly winning that.


2010-11: 24-10

Any time a team starts 16-0, there's no complaining. Early on in that run was a victory over the future conference mates the TCU Horned Frogs (though it was believed they'd meet again in the Big East). Soon after, 16-0 became 19-1 before finishing the regular season 3-7. The conference tournament looked similar to the regular season as they handled the front end, but struggled on the back end going 1-1. At 23-9, the NCAA called their number and they made it to the round of 32. That was the round they learned a little about fitting into the Big 12 as they lost at the hands of Baylor, something they'll have to get used to moving forward.

2011-12: 24-10

While the totals for the 11-12 season looked similar to the 10-11 results, it was a much more evenly distributed affair. The win streak never was greater than 5 wins, and only one losing streak, which was just 2 games long. Otherwise it was just a bunch of single losses here or there. Again, the NCAAs ended in the round of 32, but this go around they ousted future Big 12 foe Texas in the first round, before Stanford booted them.

Not knowing the relative strength of the Big East in women's bball, I have to think WVU can find enough success to continue to make it to the NCAAs, though it might not come immediately in the 2012-13 season.


28-27 in 2011, and 23-32 in 2012. I know how baseball season starts in Manhattan, so I can only wonder what baseball season in Big East country would be like. It's obvious that WVU is trending downward. So it's no surprise that there's a new skipper in town. Surprisingly, there's yet another cross-over story between TCU and WVU. It appears the media and writers will have no shortage of pulling those out of the filing cabinet moving forward. Given the amount of new coaches in the league, perhaps WVU can find its way to be out in front of those other schools who are in transitions as well. But look for them to finish towards the bottom.


15-15 in 2010, and 7-19 in 2011. It appears Texas Tech is rejoicing as unless a miracle happens, WVU ought to really struggle in the new conference.

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