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Chuck Landon: Holgorsen might leave the Mountaineers

January 1, 2019

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

It’s a new year with new opinions.

>> Is Dana Holgorsen really going to leave WVU for the head football coaching job at Houston?

I know, I know.

On the surface, it seems ludicrous. Why would an established coach of a Big 12 conference program in the Power Five take a step down to an American Athletic Conference member in the Group of Five?

It’s because there is a lot going on below the surface. Namely, WVU athletic director Shane Lyons inherited Holgorsen, he didn’t hire him. So, there’s no allegiance. What there is, however, is a lengthy impasse between the pair on a contract extension.

Like most athletic directors, Lyons would like to hire his own guy.

Besides, let’s be honest. Is the 47-year-old Holgorsen ever going to have a better team at WVU than the 2018 squad? Probably not. Is he ever going to have a better quarterback at WVU than Will Grier? Probably not.

Yet, the Mountaineers still went only 8-4 and lost their bowl game.

The handwriting is on the wall.

And the signature might belong to University of Houston power-broker Tilman Fertitta, who reportedly has his checkbook open for his old friend, Dana.

Why Houston?

It’s because Holgorsen was the Cougars’ offensive coordinator in 2008-09 and, according to the Houston Chronicle newspaper, still owns a home in Houston.

Marshall University fans should remember Holgorsen at Houston. On a Tuesday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on national television, the Herd upset the Cougars, 37-23, with Holgorsen calling the plays for quarterback Case Keenum. It was coach Mark Snyder’s signature win at Marshall.

Besides Houston, Holgorsen also coached at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, so he’s much more indigenous to the Southwest than the Mountain State.

So, could Holgorsen and WVU really decide to part company after eight years?

Yes, because the timing is perfect.

On Jan. 1, the buyout in Holgorsen’s contract dropped from $2.5 million to $1 million.

Cha-ching.

That’s why Joseph Duarte wrote in the Houston Chronicle, “Could the timing be right for an exit from Morgantown?”

But let’s get one thing clear. If WVU loses Holgorsen to a Group of Five school, it’s not the embarrassing shot across the bow it might appear to be.

That’s because this is a mutual split. Holgorsen needs a change of scenery and WVU just plain needs a change.

It’s a win-win, if it happens.

>> Why did defensive coordinator Adam Fuller leave Marshall to take the same position at Memphis?

Money and prestige.

According to the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, former Tigers defensive coordinator Chris Ball was paid $390,000 in 2018-19. Fuller? He made in the neighborhood of $175,000 at Marshall.

If that’s not enough, Memphis plays in the best Group of Five league - the American Athletic Conference - while Marshall competes in the worst - Conference USA.

Case closed.

Moving right along, now Marshall has to hire a new defensive coordinator for the second consecutive year, replacing, first, Chuck Heater and, now, Fuller.

Any candidates?

Yes.

Former UConn head coach Bob Diaco is interested, according to sources. He is currently the outside linebacker coach at Oklahoma, but Diaco has been the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Nebraska. In 2013, he won the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country.

And here’s another name.

How about Brad Lambert?

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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