Back in January of 2010, Dana Holgorsen jumped from Houston to Oklahoma State, fully aware of the competitive upgrades that awaited him in Stillwater as the new offensive coordinator.
“I knew about Kendall Hunter, knew about Joe Wickline and his ability to coach up the offensive line,” Holgorsen recalled earlier this week. “Knew the established program Coach (Mike) Gundy had, figured it would be good to come in and help him out a little bit.”
But Holgorsen knew little about the quarterback who would run his high-octane system.
He was 26 years old, had a nice arm and hadn't started a football game in more than nine years. That's about everything Holgorsen knew about Brandon Weeden.
“He was a work in progress,” Holgorsen remembered. “Because he hadn't played in a long time. Knew he could throw the ball and knew he had some ability. But after three or four games, it was still a work in progress. He listened and he worked at it and he wanted to get better and did get better every game.”
The two joke about it now, looking back on that explosive one-season partnership fondly.
Holgorsen is established at West Virginia, parlaying that 11-2 OSU season into a head-coaching job with the Mountaineers. And Weeden is in Cleveland, just three hours away from Morgantown, W.Va., preparing for his second season as the Browns' starting quarterback.
But the two were together again earlier this week, both taking part in the Scott Verplank Foundation Golf Invitational in Edmond.
“We actually hung out last night,” Weeden said on Monday afternoon. “Scott had an event and then we all went to dinner. … Had a good time, Dana's always a good time. Went out, had some dinner and shared some stories. It was good to get back in touch with him.”
Without Weeden, Holgorsen likely wouldn't have ended up at OSU.
Mike Gundy has admitted as much, saying “the reason why (we hired him) is Brandon Weeden couldn't run, which is the system we had before. So we took a chance.”
And without Holgorsen's innovative attack, which spilled over into the Todd Monken era, Weeden's unearthed passing skills may have never found their way to NFL film rooms.
“I thanked him for it. I've probably thanked him for it four or five times,” Weeden said. “Because if he didn't let me sit back there and sling it 40 or 50 times a game, who knows where I'd be at right now.”
So the two will be forever intertwined and eternally grateful, despite a collaborative working relationship that didn't even last 12 months.
“It has a whole lot to do with his ability to be an outstanding quarterback more than what I did,” Holgorsen said of Weeden. “Good guy, good player and going to be successful at the next level.”
“He's had myself, Graham Harrell, Case Keenum and Geno (Smith), that's a pretty good resume,” Weeden said of Holgorsen. “He says he's been blessed and he's very appreciative. One of my favorite guys I've ever played for. A good coach and fun to be around. He's one of a kind. You'll never meet another guy like him.”