- Brian Bennett, College Football
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The waiting for hearing from West Virginia's head-coach-in-waiting is over.
Dana Holgorsen, who will become the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator next season before taking over the head-coaching job from Bill Stewart in 2012, was officially introduced at a news conference in Morgantown on Wednesday afternoon. Not surprisingly, the first question he was asked centered on whether this unusual staff setup can work.
"If I thought it was a problem, I wouldn't be here," Holgorsen said. "I have a lot of respect for Coach Stew and what he's done, and at the end of the day it's about surrounding yourself with good people and hiring good people. If I come to work on January 1st and people are fighting each other, we're not going to win games. But we're all comfortable with each other at this point, and if we're all on the same page we've got a chance to win."
Holgorsen made a quick trip to Morgantown and immediately flew to San Antonio to re-join Oklahoma State for its Valero Alamo Bowl game against Arizona. He said he didn't know much about the current Mountaineers players and probably wouldn't until recruiting wraps up in February. But Holgorsen's style has proved to be highly successful upon immediate implementation, as both Houston and Oklahoma State put up record-breaking stats in their first seasons under his watch.
"I feel like the system we've got is one that's easy to teach, easy to grasp," he said. "Then it's all about putting it in their hands and getting them as good as we can at it."
Stewart appeared at the news conference as well, and despite being forced to hand over his job next year, he sounded upbeat as usual.
"This will be a very smooth transition," he said. "The direction of West Virginia football is good and it's in great hands."
Holgorsen declined to talk about what other schools had offered him jobs, including his reported dalliance with Pittsburgh. When asked why he chose to come to West Virginia, he said he thought the program had a better chance to win than most. He knows he's been charged with winning a national championship, given athletic director Oliver Luck's comments last week about Stewart not being the man to do that. But he doesn't find that daunting.
"You mean this isn't the only place that wants a national championship?" he asked jokingly. "It's hard and it's a challenge. But if you're at a place that has a chance to get that accomplished, then you're at the right place."
West Virginia will be Holgorsen's fourth school in the past five years, and he said he's "tired of moving, tired of living in a hotel. I'm looking forward to making this my home."
He sounded all of the right notes at his introductory news conference, including this answer when asked about his goals.
"Keep Jeff Casteel happy," he said, referring to the team's popular defensive coordinator who will stay on through the transition. "My job this whole first year is to get the offense where we want it. And then it's to keep him happy after that."
Known as a character and a night owl, Holgorsen was jokingly asked how he would adjust to Stewart's occasional habit of holding 6 a.m. practices.
"That's pretty early," he conceded. "But I'll make it work."
"He can stay overnight with me," Stewart interjected.
If those two can get along as well behind the scenes as they did Wednesday in public, perhaps this transition will go more smoothly than many think.