Rumor Time: Holgorsen Will Be Hot
By John Helsley
follow on twitter @jjhelsley
Success breeds success, they say.
And hot coaching candidates.
Our man Berry Tramel already addressed the likelihood of Mike Gundystaying in Stillwater in his blog, suggesting Cowboys fans need not fear another school stealing Gundy away. Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is another matter.
With the Cowboys winning and rolling up big numbers on offense, Holgorsen is bound to become one of the rising assistant coaches mentioned with job openings. All it took was one firing — Dan Hawkins’ mercy whack at Colorado — for Holgorsen’s name to come rolling out.
As ESPN analyzes those who could potentially follow Hawkins,the list is long and even includes former Cowboys coach Les Miles, who once was an assistant with the Buffs. But among assistants, Holgorsen is a hot entry, as would be expected.
Here’s the take of ESPN college football analyst Bruce Feldman:
“If they go the assistant coach/up-and-comer route, they should also consider Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Oklahoma State’s Dana Holgorsen. Both are great offensive minds.”
Anticipating Holgorsen’s likely appeal, and his own likely interest to become a head coach someday, we talked with Gundyabout how soon his first-year offensive coordinator might be on the move.
“There’s no question in my mind he can leave here and be a head coach,” Gundy said. “There’s already been two guys do it already (Larry Fedora and Tim Beckman). I don’t know how many jobs will open this year. I’d say if we do well on offense next year, and I’d say we would, we have most everybody coming back, that would probably start for him next year.”
For now, Holgorsen’s name is just speculation floated on a list, nothing more. The writers close to the program — John Henderson of the Denver Post and Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Camera — seem focused elsewhere. Gundy thinks Holgorsen would benefit with another big season at OSU, adding another layer to his resume and also waiting for the right job, which Colorado may or may not be. That’s a difficult rebuild, at a cash-strapped school heading to a new conference.
Gundy said he’ll do everything he can to keep Holgorsen as long as possible.
“There’s three ways I can handle that,” Gundy said. “One, putting them in an environment where they like working. Two, obviously, you’ve got to take care of them financially. I want to make sure he’s taken care of. And three, we’re going to do whatever we can to help him when he wants to become a head coach.”
To that end, Holgorsen seems comfortable in Stillwater, where his quirkiness is accepted and even appreciated.
Consider this tidbit from Gundy:
“Our personalities are much different. I’m very type a, structured, organized. I feel guilty if I don’t show up early and stay late. His personality is not all the way to Mike Leach, but it’s somewhere in between. He’ll tell you, ‘I don’t prefer to come to the office before 9 a.m.’ He doesn’t like to get up in the mornings. But he’ll stay late. His personality is different.”
And, yes, Gundy knew all this before he hired Holgorsen, so no culture shock involved.
“It is culture shock for traditional coaches. I knew a lot about him as a person. So I knew I had to be wiling to make adjustments in order to allow him to do what he does best. I’ve not had any issues whatsoever with him.”
Financially, expect Holgorsen to get a significant bump in salary at season’s end. He got a three-year contract and a salry of $360,000 to come to OSU from Houston. He’s proven to be worth it, well worth it.
The Cowboys rank third nationally in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense and may be just hitting a stride, coming off a rout of Baylor in which they set school records for passing yards (435) and total offense (725 yards).
And, Gundy said, OSU still lacks several pieces.
“We are not outfitted to run this offense right now,” he said.
But Holgorsen’s time in Stillwater is ultimately out of Gundy’s hands. If a good job comes calling, Holgorsen will have to listen.
Still, Gundy makes the point that it has to be a good job, not just any job. And he believes Holgorsen has already increased his appeal with this season at OSU, with more room to rise.
“He was only at Houston for two years. And then being here a year, in my opinion, has really helped him. Like when Fedora came here and Beckman came here. If you come to Oklahoma State and you’re a coordinator and you do well, they see you different than if you go to… Florida, they say, ‘Well, they’ve got really good players. Anybody can do that.’ I really believe people see it that way.”
And while we’re talking coaching candidates, don’t forget Bill Young. His stamp is on this young team, too, and he’s highly respected in the business.
But Young, an OSU alum, considers Stillwater home and isn’t likely to leave at age 64. He’s stated several times that this is his last stop, as long as the Cowboys will have him. And rest assured, Gundy and the Cowboys will have him for several more seasons.
As for Holgorsen, though, who knows.
He’s hot. And getting hotter.
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