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Holgorsen ‘shocked’ first sport in opposition to WVU isn’t in Morgantown

MORGANTOWN — When the College of Houston accepted an invite to hitch the Huge 12, head coach Dana Holgorsen knew he would finally need to face his former staff, West Virginia. He simply by no means anticipated that the primary assembly wouldn’t be in Morgantown.

“I’m shocked that that didn’t occur,” Holgorsen stated on Monday. “My prediction was in week three of 12 months one which was going to occur.” 

As a substitute, it’s the Mountaineers (4-1, 2-0 Huge 12) who will journey this week to play at Houston’s (2-3, 0-2) TDECU Stadium for a matchup this Thursday (7 p.m./FS1).

“We’ll see them subsequent 12 months up there, however they’re going to journey,” Holgorsen stated. “They’ve an amazing fan base — Mountaineer Nation is alive and properly.” 

Holgorsen, who’s in his fifth season at Houston, spent eight years as WVU’s head coach from 2011-2018. This shall be Holgorsen’s first time enjoying the Mountaineers since leaving, in addition to the first-ever assembly between new conference-mates WVU and Houston.

“I’ve been on this scenario quite a bit the place you permit a spot and you then play them,” Holgorsen stated. “The easiest way that I’ve found out find out how to method it’s to show your telephone off and get to work. That is for the followers, the followers get into that and recognize that.”

Like Holgorsen, West Virginia, too, isn’t making this sport out to be one thing greater than it’s.

“I feel if it occurred sooner, the buildup round it could have been greater,” stated WVU coach Neal Brown, Holgorsen’s successor with the Mountaineers. “I feel at any time when Dana comes again right here for the primary time that’ll be somewhat little bit of an even bigger deal.”

WVU was 61-41 below Holgorsen with a pair of 10-win seasons in 2011 and 2016. He guided this system because it transitioned into the Huge 12 in 2012 and went to seven bowl video games in eight years. The simple excessive level of Holgorsen’s tenure got here in his first 12 months when the Mountaineers completed the 2011 season with a 70-33 win over Clemson within the Orange Bowl.

“I feel what doesn’t get talked about, Dana did a great job right here,” Brown stated. “I’m reminded as a result of each day I drive into this parking zone (at Milan Puskar Stadium), I see an image of him and the Orange Bowl staff. He did a extremely good job, Dana and his workers.”

Holgorsen and WVU mutually break up following the 2018 season attributable to what gave the impression to be a contract dispute. Holgorsen’s contract with Houston paid him over $4 million per 12 months whereas the contract WVU gave Brown was nearer to $3 million per 12 months. An extension in 2021 bumped Brown’s wage nearer to $4 million.

“I loved my time at West Virginia, there’s no query about that,” Holgorsen stated. “I met a number of actually, actually good folks and I do know a number of them are coming (to the sport) so it ought to make for an thrilling sport. On the finish of the day, it’s about me doing my job and getting our staff able to play.”

After 5 years, there may be little or no of Holgorsen’s affect left on WVU’s roster. Just one present WVU participant, cornerback Malachi Ruffin, performed for Holgorsen. 

“It’s been 5 years,” Brown stated. “I feel it could most likely be perceived in another way if we had a number of guys who have been right here in 2018; we simply don’t.”

Houston, in the meantime, has added 4 former Mountaineers via the switch portal in recent times, Noah Guzman, Mike O’Laughlin, Tony Mathis and Sam Brown.

“Time heals a number of issues,” Brown stated. “There’s no unwell will, from anyone on this constructing, taking place there.”

This would be the first time WVU has confronted a former head coach for the reason that Mountaineers performed Florida State within the 2010 Gator Bowl in Bobby Bowden’s closing sport earlier than retirement.

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