When the West Virginia Mountaineers entered the Big 12 in 2012, they came in muskets blazing. They ran out to a 5-0 start to the year with shootout victories over No. 25 Baylor, 70-63 in the ‘Ears’ Big 12 debut, and No. 11 Texas, 48-45. That bright start couldn’t prevent an ignominious first couple of years in the conference, though.
Ranked No. 5 in the country, West Virginia somehow fell flat on its face in Lubbock, scoring only 14 points against Texas Tech in a loss. It took a lot of the shine off K-State’s 55-14 victory the next week in Morgantown when Collin Klein really aired the ball out, completing 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and 3 TDs. West Virginia finished the year on a 2-6 streak with the only victories coming against Iowa State and Kansas.
Things just got worse the next year, with the ‘Ears going 4-8 and 2-7 in the Big 12, including losses to Iowa State and ... Kansas. The 31-19 loss in Lawrence was Charlie Weis’ only Big 12 victory in 2-1/2 seasons with the Jayhawks.
West Virginia has improved considerably since that low point, but the transition to the Big 12 was clearly rough. I’m happy to have the ‘Ears in the conference, but this isn’t the Big East, folks. You aren’t competing with Rutgers, Cincinnati, and UConn for conference titles.
Holgo! is quite the character in his own right, starting with playing for Hal Mumme and Mike Leach at Iowa Wesleyan. He later was an assistant under both of them, along with one year alongside pre-mullet Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State.
One doesn’t work for all of those guys and not end up a bit wild. So it should be no surprise Holgo!’s move to head coaching was a strange one. West Virginia hired him away from Oklahoma State to be the offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting under Bill Stewart at the end of 2010. By mid-year (not mid-season, mid-year) 2011, Holgo! lost the -in-waiting tag after a newspaper reporter said Stewart asked him and another reporter to dig up dirt on his assistant.
Pro tip: Don’t try to use newspaper reporters to dig up dirt on your (hypothetical) underlings. Chances aren’t good that you will stay anonymous in that situation. Anonymity is for people “punching up” against abuses of power, not head coaches desperately trying to keep their jobs by getting their successors fired.
That said, Holgo was removed from a casino for being uncooperative while he was HCIW at West Virginia. And Holgo’s reputation for loving energy drinks isn’t just a meme. In 2015, he told a reporter at Big 12 Media Days that he would drink “in the neighborhood of 1,000” cans of Red Bull during the season.
Sorry to disappoint you, but we aren’t going to indulge in “hillbilly” stereotypes about Appalachia. We have too much respect for the state of Western Virginia, which seceded from the Confederacy (and the rest of Virginia) to rejoin the United States during the Civil War.
We will, however, mock the shape of West Virginia. Just look at it:
It has two weird arms! And one of those weird arms has it’s own weird arm! What the hell, surveyors? Did you draw these borders after a weekend averaging more than five cans of Red Bull a day?