Dana Holgorsen was born and played college football in Iowa and he spent the last eight years at West Virginia, but he still thinks Houston is home.
Holgorsen was unveiled as the Cougars new head coach last week with reports saying he’s agreed to a five-year, $20 million contract, making him the highest paid coach non-power conference school ever.
“My goal, which is the only thing that I can affect, is to be able to win a football championship,” he said. “A conference championship. That's the goal. I don't care where you're at. I don't care what conference you're in. That is everybody's goal.”
This is Holgorsen’s second stint with Houston, having served as the Cougars’ offensive coordinator in 2008-2009 under Kevin Sumlin. His offense ranked No. 3 in total offense in 2008 and No. 1 in 2009 thanks in part to Case Keenum.
He spent one year as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, in 2010, and help that team set five school records, including total yards and scoring.
In eight seasons with the Mountaineers, he finished 61-41 overall and 38-32 in conference play, won one conference title and two bowl games, including a 70-33 win over Clemson in the 2011 Orange Bowl.
“This is a program that understands what the expectations are, and I don't want to be somewhere where the expectations aren't high,” Holgorsen said. “I want to be somewhere where the expectations are high.”
The Cougars won seven of their first eight games this seasons, but lost four of final five games, including a 70-14 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. Houston fired defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio in November, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles moved to Florida State on Dec. 23 and head coach Major Applewhite was fired on Dec. 30.
Holgorsen said he’s already met with many players on the roster, including quarterback D’Eriq King, who was one of the most electric and productive offensive weapons in the conference before suffering an injury towards the end of the season.
For Holgorsen to be successful at Houston, keeping the Texas recruits at home is going to be key, and he’s up for the challenge.
“The high school football in this state is the best in the country,” he said. “Nobody does it better than the state of Texas. With the resources, with the way they pay the coaches, the facilities, the practice time, nobody does it better. It's the best state and city to be able to recruit because of how things work like that. I'm excited about that, and I can't wait to reconnect with a lot of the high school football coaches, especially here in Houston.”