When I moved from my position as a sports writer at the Charleston Gazette-Mail to Wheelhouse Creative, I tried to do so in a respectful way.
I thanked my former co-workers, readers and those that allowed me to tell their stories. I then turned toward my exciting new challenge.
I imagine most of you would have handled it in the same way.
Which is why I’m scratching my head over Dana Holgorsen’s latest comments after departing WVU.
Understand, he was fine with me. Although we mostly had a frosty relationship, he approached me after I attended my final Mountaineer press conference. We shook hands.
Then, when he decided to leave Morgantown for Houston, he thanked the school, the state and student-athletes.
“Our vision for the University of Houston is to do the same thing,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed my eight years at WVU,” he said. “That was a special eight years for me. We built that thing up from what was the Big East seven years ago into the Big 12 and have had a lot of success over the last seven years winning games and running a clean program.”
I believe most understood what was going on. Holgorsen had hit his ceiling at WVU. The cupboard was bare after losing – and not fully cashing in on – talent like Will Grier, David Sills, Gary Jennings and David Long. He knew the best course of action for his career was to move on, even if it was to a Group of 5 school.
Again, OK. It may leave a bad taste in the proverbial mouths of Mountaineer fans that the recruiting, the roster management of Holgorsen may hinder new coach Neal Brown. Yet, overall, no hard feelings.
First, this USA Today headline appeared: “Dana Holgorsen embraces Houston’s big expectations, says leaving West Virginia was ‘easy decision.’”
If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed I simply re-tweeted the story and didn’t comment.
That’s because after reading the story, I didn’t see his quote as all that sensational.
He was quoted as saying it was “an easy decision” with the addendum that Houston is a place that “has always been special to me.”
Any Mountaineer fans could have told you that. The man loves Houston. He spent plenty of time there, even while employed as the WVU coach. He tried to recruit from there. No big secret.
Yet then came a follow-up Associated Press article dated April 12 that was written by Kristie Rieken.
In that, things appear to have gotten personal – from Holgorsen toward his former WVU recruits/players, toward his former WVU recruits/players’ high school coaches.
“I think these guys understand football,” Holgorsen said of his Houston Cougars. “That’s the one thing about the state of Texas – and the majority of them are from Texas – is that they’ve done a lot of football stuff. Very well coached here in the state so they understand football better than what I’m used to.”
Than what he’s used to? Why add that? Why take the shot? Why not simply applaud Texas high school players and leave it at that?
And then there was this Holgorsen quote about his time at WVU.
“That was an eight-year test run on how to be a head coach,” he told Rieken. “So I don’t even have to go back and think and look at all the things that I screwed up early. I know there was a lot and I’m sure I’m going to make mistakes here as well, but it’s a lot smoother now.”
At least Holgorsen admits to mistakes. There were staffing mistakes. There was a disconnect between coaches and players’ families. There were roster management issues. There were sub-par recruiting classes and a desperate reliance on transfers. Holgorsen never seemed to warm to the Mountaineer fans and vice versa.
And all, apparently, was a multi-million dollar “test run.” (I’m sure Oliver Luck and Shane Lyons will be happy to hear that.)
It’s just perplexing. Why not dearly hold onto fond memories instead of grudges? Why not be thankful WVU poured millions of dollars into the bank account? More than anything, why not simply show respect to those left behind?
It’s really not difficult.
Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle. If interested in fine marketing or advertising work for your company, call him at Wheelhouse Creative’s headquarters (304-905-6005). Also, be sure to visit his “Off the Record” live show at Generations Pub in Wheeling. At 7 p.m. this Thursday, his guest will be former WVU basketball assistant coach Billy Hahn.