STILLWATER â€” It was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. And it was the fulfillment of a goal.
When Dana Holgorsen accepted the offer to run his own program at West Virginia, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator saw it as a chance to take a quality program to another level.
â€œThey've always played an exciting brand of football both offensively and defensively,â€ Holgorsen said. â€œThey get into Florida and recruit a whole bunch of athletes, they have a tradition of being able to recruit well. Getting hired and being able to do things how I want to do it hopefully we can take it a step further.â€
Holgorsen is part of a succession plan in which he will serve as WVU's offensive coordinator for one season then take over the head coaching duties from current coach Bill Stewart in 2012. Holgorsen will be paid $800,000 in 2011, then bumped to $1.4 million when he becomes head coach in 2012.
If Stewart were to decide to resign before 2012, Holgorsen feels he's ready to take over immediately.
â€œI can sit back and evaluate everything,â€ he said of the one season as offensive coordinator. â€œ(But) I am prepared to take over the program right now if I need to.â€
WVU athletic director Oliver Luck pursued Holgorsen because he felt the Mountaineers weren't headed in the right direction. Stewart was 28-11 in three seasons including three straight nine-win campaigns but never earned a BCS bowl berth.
â€œI didn't believe we had an opportunity to win a national championship with the direction of the program,â€ Luck said. â€œAt the end of the day, results matter. And we weren't getting the results. I expect us to compete at the highest levels. I wanted (Holgorsen) because I do think he can lead us to a national championship.â€
The succession plan gives Holgorsen, who has coordinated offenses at OSU, Texas Tech and Houston, the chance to get used to the Mountaineer program, the region and the Big East conference for one season.
â€œOne thing that will be cool about this (succession plan) is being able to sit back and learn and get a good feel for what everything is like around there,â€ he said. "After one season, I will know a whole bunch more about what I'm getting into."
Holgorsen was in high demand after helping the Cowboys to a 10-2 record and record-setting offensive season. OSU finished No. 1 in total offense, No. 2 in passing offense and No. 3 in scoring offense in 2010.
He reaffirmed his intention to stay â€” and call plays â€” with the Cowboys through the Alamo Bowl because winningÂ a school-record 11 gamesÂ at OSU is important to him and everyone else in the program.
â€œI'm going to finish what I started here,â€ Holgorsen said. â€œI'd like to think I had something to do with winning 10 so I'm going to do my best to help us win 11. It means a lot to everybody involved.â€
Holgorsen will look back on his time in Stillwater with appreciation. He helped the Cowboys win at least 10 games and raised his national profile to a point where he will take over a quality program in a BCS conference in his first head coaching opportunity.
â€œI enjoyed every minute of it,â€ he said. â€œI just tried to get us better offensively every day and I would like to think from the day I got here until now we have progressed offensively.â€