Big 12 football newcomer West Virginia no stranger to winning

At West Virginia, Dana Holgorsen has a strong tradition upon which to build. The Mountaineers have won 70 games the last seven seasons. That's a powerful asset as they head into the Big 12.
BY BERRY TRAMEL Published: July 12, 2012
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Dana Holgorsen walks the halls of West Virginia's football facilities and sees something he didn't see so much in Lubbock or Stillwater.

Trophies. Classic trophies. The hardware they give out for college football's greatest games.

Holgorsen spent one memorable season at OSU and eight years in Lubbock as lieutenant in the Mike Leach Revolution. He was part of something special both places. But something was missing.

“The one thing we always struggled with Tech and even at Oklahoma State prior to their past two years was, the thing Texas and Oklahoma always did, they were walking past a whole bunch of trophies,” Holgorsen said. “Bunch of BCS trophies. We didn't have that at Tech and Oklahoma State.”

OSU under Mike Gundy and Tech under Leach did not have great tradition upon which to build. Holgorsen has that at West Virginia as the Mountaineers enter the Big 12.

In fact, Holgorsen says that's the only thing he knew about West Virginia when he interviewed for the job to become offensive coordinator/head-coach-in-waiting.

“It was a complete unknown,” Holgorsen said. “I didn't know much. Didn't know much about the state. Only thing I knew was the winning tradition.”

In the last seven years, West Virginia has played in the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Orange Bowl. WVU has won all three games, beating the likes of Georgia, OU and Clemson.

The Mountaineers have won 70 games the last seven seasons. They are not a team that enters the Big 12 wondering if they can hold up.

That's a powerful asset. Belief can't be bought in a store or even earned through the hard work of summer sweat. It's an autumn crop.

“These kids are used to winning here,” Holgorsen said. “There's some teams in the Big 12 obviously used to winning, looking at Texas and Oklahoma and, shoot, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

“We've got that. These guys are used to winning. I think they'll be able to hang in there.”

West Virginia figures to have an all-world offense with senior quarterback Geno Smith and speedy flanker Tavon Austin. The Mountaineers figure to be suspect on defense. That puts West Virginia in line with most Big 12 contenders.

“Will we surprise some people?” asked Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck. “I hope so. Will we be surprised? Probably so. We'll be a productive member and help the overall level of the Big 12.”

The excitement that permeates West Virginia's move to the Big 12 doesn't extend to the players. Not on any real level.

“Players don't care,” Holgorsen said. “Our players are kind of starting to research it a little bit. I just tell 'em, same thing, it's a fantastic conference. Six or seven teams in the top 20.”

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Newcomer series

Berry Tramel's six-part series on the Big 12's newcomers:

— West Virginia pride

— West Virginia football

— West Virginia basketball

— TCU pride

— TCU basketball

— TCU football

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