AD: WVU 'must get better,' coach's job safe

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm •  Published: December 3, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said Tuesday that football coach Dana Holgorsen's job is safe for now, although Luck sounded a warning shot following a 4-8 season that the Mountaineers "must get better."

Luck issued a statement indicating he's sticking with Holgorsen after the Mountaineers missed out on a bowl for the first time in 12 seasons. But Luck said "there were far too many disappointments."

Luck said he and Holgorsen met at length to review the season, including discussions of the coaching staff, which embarked on recruiting trips this week.

"I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing," he said. "In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.

Holgorsen is 21-17 in three seasons. In 2014 he's set to earn at least $2.7 million in salary and bonuses in the third year of a six-year contract.

Luck cited a desire for WVU to become a national power when he hired Holgorsen to eventually replace Bill Stewart as coach. Holgorsen went 10-3 in his first season that included Big East championship and a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

But the Mountaineers have gone 6-12 in their first two seasons in the Big 12, including 2-7 this year.

"We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance," Luck said. "We simply must get better."

It doesn't get any easier next year. Holgorsen must replace 11 starters, including six on defense. And the Mountaineers open the season against Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

"We have high expectations for the 2014 football team," Luck said.

The 2013 season had a common theme for the Mountaineers, who surrendered four second-half leads in their final six games.

"We have talked about finishing all year long," Holgorsen said after Saturday's 52-44 loss to Iowa State in triple overtime. "It is something that will be addressed in the offseason.