Dana Holgorsen will reportedly leave West Virginia to take over as Houston coach


As the calendar struck 2019 on Tuesday morning, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen reportedly agreed to leave the Mountaineers after eight seasons to take the same position at Houston. Holgorsen, who was the top candidate for the job that opened when Major Applewhite was dismissed Sunday after two seasons with the Cougars, will sign a five-year deal worth $20 million, according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman and SB Nation's Steven Godfrey, who first reported the agreement.

Holgorsen is 61-41 over his eight seasons at WVU and has led the program for its entire Big 12 tenure; the Mountaineers joined the conference in 2012. West Virginia generally hovered between 7-8 wins under Holgorsen, though it posted a 10-3 campaign in 2016 that netted a second-place finish in the Big 12. Holgorsen previously served as offensive coordinator at Houston under Kevin Sumlin from 2008-09.

Despite the Mountaineers often being pleased with their team's performance under Holgorsen, his name has been out there as a candidate for multiple open jobs over the last two offseasons. In the end, he always remained at WVU, though it was clear a split would come sooner or later as the team has not necessarily progressed during his time as its leader, and the program refused to meet his contract demands.

The Cougars have apparently not budged in doing just that, as they are reportedly finalizing an agreement that would pay Holgorsen $4 million per season. That would make him the highest-paid coach outside a Power Five conference ever, earning $1.4 million more than Mike Norvell did at Memphis in 2018 ($2.6 million). Holgorsen was paid $3.6 million in salary this past season at West Virginia.

Others that interviewed for the Houston job included USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, FAU coach Lane Kiffin and Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, according to Godfrey and Feldman.

Holgorsen making the rare move from Power Five to Group of Five is a risk, but he will have every chance to succeed with Houston whereas his predecessor seemed hamstrung from the start. Applewhite went 15-10 in his two seasons with the Cougars after Tom Herman led the team to a combined 22-4 in the two years prior.

CBS Sports Staff

Adam Silverstein joined CBS Sports in 2014 as college football and golf editor. He also helps lead pro wrestling, boxing and mixed martial arts coverage. Adam still maintains that Tim Tebow could have... Full Bio

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