West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen met with the media Friday and then took the time for a brief phone interview with me. We discussed his new job, expectations and a host of other topics. Stay tuned for Part II on Monday.
Now that you are head coach, how are you going to prepare for all the added responsibilities that come along with the job?
DH: I’ve been preparing for this for quite some time. I knew it was going to happen here quick. I’ve been here six months. I’m familiar with how things work around here. The base of what we do is not going to change. Every kid on our team, their day-to-day stuff from academics to strength coaches to how they’re treated in the training room to who their position coach is, what their schemes are, nothing is going to change from what we did in the spring. What’s going to change is being in charge of 100 percent of the kids as opposed to 50 percent. As offensive coordinator, I learned about all the kids on offense and what makes them tick. Now I’ve got to get on the defensive side and get to know who they are and what makes them tick.
AA: How are you going to go about doing that?
DH: When you see 'em, talk to 'em. If it takes until midseason to get to know a few of them the way I want to, that’s the way it works. I'm never going to miss an opportunity to be able to talk to a kid and get to know him.
AA: How about your role as offensive coordinator during games. How is that going to affect you as the head coach?
DH: I wanted to make sure that I was able to bring in guys that I know, that I trust, that know how I tick and know how I work and know the X's and O's. The offensive assistants I brought in are all on the same page that I am; I feel really good about that. If I need to leave the room to handle a phone call, leave the room to discuss something with Coach [Jeff] Casteel, the trainer, academic guys, I can leave that room and it can keep working on offense. From a game-day standpoint, from an offensive standpoint when to kick it when not to kick it, when to call a timeout when not to call a timeout, that’s easy. The challenge is going to be on defense. I’m going to have to pull myself away from the players, but I can do that with guys on the sideline who understand how I work.
AA: Might you see how it works this year as offensive coordinator and then decide whether it is something you want to do long term?
DH: I’ve seen it be successful both ways. I was one of the guys Mike Leach trusted and he was pretty successful at Texas Tech. I’m pretty close with [Houston coach] Kevin Sumlin. He turned it over to me and then recently [co-offensive coordinator] Kliff [Kingsbury] to the point where he was always in tune with the game. I have to evaluate where we’re at. I don’t want to change it now because of how we did things in the spring. I truly believe spring is incredibly vital to your success in the fall.
AA: What has this last week been like for you?
DH: I had some pretty big emotions Friday. It was happening a little quicker than I thought. I had been anticipating this for quite some time, so there was a bunch of excitement. I took some time off, went fishing, did some different things where I could reflect on what needs to happen from here on out. It wasn’t going to be a whole deal to sit down and reflect on what has happened. It’s more what we have to do to move forward.
AA: What did you think as you saw West Virginia become such a national story?
DH: I ignored it. My job was to be the offensive coordinator. My job hasn’t changed since the day I was hired. My job was to be the offensive coordinator and do everything I can from the X-and-O standpoint to get our guys in position to have the best season we could. I just kept my head down and remained focused on task at hand.
AA: Have you talked to Bill Stewart since last Friday?
DH: Last Saturday briefly for a few minutes he came in and met with the support staff, met with the team. We visited in passing and he was out the door. I really appreciate everything he’s done for West Virginia. He’s a good person.