On Sunday morning, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle broke the news that the University of Houston would be moving on from Head Coach Dana Holgorsen. After 5 years at the helm, higher expectations were put on Coach Holgorsen and those expectations were not in any way met. Here is a recap of the week leading up to Sunday's decision, what went wrong and what is next.
Last Sunday(the 19th) a source indicated that Defensive Coordinator Doug Belk, along with a number of other position coaches, were not going to be brought back for the 2024 season. When asked whether or not Holgorsen would be returning, the source said that while there were rumors of a change, nothing was certain. For those wondering, that is what this tweet was referencing:
On Tuesday afternoon, the game changed. The same source reached back out saying that today, Sunday the 26th (when this article was written), would be Holgorsen's last day as the Head Coach of the Cougars. After the loss on Saturday against UCF, which was another same ole lackluster showing that we have seen all year, there was little doubt if the University would back down from cutting Holgorsen free.
Late Saturday night, I unexpectedly shared the news from Tuesday's conversation on a Twitter Space hosted by the Gamblin' Gauchos starting at the 14:12 mark:
At about 10:30 on Sunday morning, the Houston Chronicle broke that news officially and that was all she wrote. The Holgorsen administration had finally come to an end.
What went wrong?
“We won 20 games in two years,” Holgorsen said. “We won bowl games in back-to-back years. I have five years on my contract with a f—ing impossible buyout. … So there ain’t no f—ing hot seat in my mind. There just ain’t.”
That quote from an Athletic article written by Sam Kahn during the offseason sums up what went wrong as well as any one quote can. There was a level of arrogance that was expected to come with Holgorsen. If you have ever watched an interview with him you can sense it pretty quickly. The problem is that arrogance only works when you are winning. When you are recruiting at a high level. When a fanbase is behind you. When those things aren't the situation on the ground well...it comes off as out of touch and a turn off.
That arrogance apparently stayed until the very end as Rob Sellers of 247 Sports said on a podcast Sunday afternoon that the sense from inside the building was one of shock when the news came down. Apparently many people inside the football program did not see the writing on the wall. When your Athletic Director has made it clear a bowl was the goal for the season and when that goal is not met, one should assume their position is in trouble. At least, any level headed person would.
Holgorsen never seemed to put the blame on himself. There was always an excuse. There was always a reason other than his coaching. At one point this season after the rough start the Coogs endured losing to Rice and being offensively shut out against TCU, Holgorsen was asked about the play calling. His response was that there was nothing wrong with the play calling it was the solely on the execution.
Again, not his fault.
Again, the arrogance comes through loud and clear.
In many ways, heading into a Power 5 conference for the first time UH needed and desperately still needs a leader. A program builder. A marketer. A salesman. A cheerleader. A Kelvin Sampson.
Holgorsen did not show the ability to be any of those things.
By now you have most likely seen the multiple reports linking names like Jeff Traylor, Willie Fritz and Gary Patterson to the opening. A source has confirmed interest in Traylor, Fritz and Kliff Kingsbury. Patterson has been confirmed as having talked with UH over the last few weeks by multiple outlets, though this particular source could not confirm that at this time.
Whoever the hire is, he needs to be able to hit the ground running as the transfer portal opens in one week on December 4th. This is a complete reset and so while a bowl is not probable at this time, making one needs to be the goal. The first step towards that will be when the portal opens. There needs to be a captain on deck to steer the ship at that time.
Starting next year the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams. The Big 12 Champion will get an automatic bid to compete for a national championship in this format expansion. This means that starting in 2024, the University of Houston has a realistic shot at playing for a national title every year.
Read that paragraph one more time.
This hire is probably the most important coaching decision the university has ever made. There is more at stake and more things that are now achievable than ever before.
All that is needed is the right man for the job.
No pressure right?