To say West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is unhappy with his fans is probably an understatement. Holgorsen let loose at the end of his weekly news conference Tuesday when asked about the lopsided attendance figures through his team's first four games.
One week after 62,056 showed up in Morgantown to watch LSU, the Mountaineers had 46,603 fans attend their 55-10 win over Bowling Green during less-than-ideal weather conditions. Holgorsen noticed.
"You came into last week, where you've got all kinds of excuses not to play well. Like, had to cancel the Mantrip, we had bad weather, it was cold. It was wet," he said. "The environment was terrible. It was relatively early -- maybe you didn't respect your opponent. No matter what the excuses were, our players didn't buy into it. But obviously our fan base did. So whatever our expectations are with our players as far as preparing every week and going to the game and playing their best, I highly encourage our students and our support to take the same approach. You only get seven opportunities a year. What's so hard about it? Is it too cold? It wasn't too cold for our players. It wasn't too cold for our coaches or managers or trainers. They were out there. So why did we have 20,000 people less at this one than we did last week?
"The funny part about it, we're all talking two weeks ago about how much difference the crowd's going to make to the LSU people. Well, LSU played well in front of 62,000 of our people and then turned around and went home and played a 1-4 Kentucky team at noon and had 95,000 people there. You want to talk about an elite program, that's one. I don't know about this place."
But wait. There's more.
Holgorsen was asked a follow-up about what he has to do to change the mindset of a fan base that can be fickle, and whether he needs to beat the drum more to get more fans to games.
"I'm new here. I just call it like I see it," he said. "I'm just going to go ahead and say what I think. All I heard in the offseason -- I did go out there and beat the drum down. I talked about how important it is to our athletic department and our players and our coaches to have support. All I heard about was how much this meant to everybody across the state of West Virginia. This was the NFL team in town and we're going to be here to support you. Well, having 40,000 people at a game isn't doing that. ... We do our best every week to fix what the problems are offensively, defensively and special teams wise. Well what's everybody across the state of West Virginia, including the student body, doing to fix the fact that our players had to play in front of 40,000 people.
"We have a conference game coming up this week. It's at noon. I can give you some excuses now: Playing a team that's 2-3. Well, they should be 5-0. Playing at noon. Well, who cares? Get up. Mantrip's at 9:45. Are we going to have a good crowd or are we going to have nobody there? Is the weather going to be 85 and sunny or 25 and snowing? It really doesn't matter because the coaches and players and trainers and everybody else is going to be there. That's what our job is. What's the support people's job?"
Holgorsen may not have been happy with how many people showed up against Bowling Green, but West Virginia does have the best attendance among all Big East schools, averaging 55,332 fans per game. They are filling the stadium to 92 percent capacity. But Holgorsen clearly wants his fans to get up for every game, not just the big ones.
Home attendance so far:
Norfolk State: 51,911
LSU: 62,056 (the largest WVU home crowd since a 2003 win over Pitt)
Bowling Green: 46,603