Time Together Helped Mold Holgorsen, Gundy - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Time Together Helped Mold Holgorsen, Gundy


The first image many surrounding West Virginia's football program had of their future head coach had him painted in orange and black, an offensive coordinator pacing the Oklahoma State sidelines with a Red Bull at the ready.

In the two years since then, the team itself, the position held and the color orange have vanished from that image as Dana Holgorsen returns to Stillwater, where he will pace the length of the field with the visitors.

But Holgorsen is no stranger to this role. It isn't as though he spent much of his career as a Cowboy – only one season – but he did spend plenty of time game planning against them.

In all of his years at Texas Tech, starting in the 2000 season, Holgorsen's offenses faced Oklahoma State.

Holgorsen took his Houston offenses up against the Cowboys' Mike Gundy twice and split the series before they ultimately joined forces the following season in 2010 to put together an 11-2 campaign.

"I knew a whole lot about it prior to going there from a facilities standpoint, a coaching staff standpoint, the culture and from a recruiting standpoint," Holgorsen said on Monday. "Obviously, I was there for one year, last year was the first year I didn't have any association with Oklahoma State in 12 years."

Now the association is renewed as Holgorsen and Gundy meet for the first time as equals – both head coaches in the Big 12.

Gundy can recall now the changes his program made as they welcomed in an offensive coordinator who was just one successful season away from taking his first head coaching position at West Virginia University.

"We were just a typical spread offense. Run, pass, no huddle offense," Gundy says of OSU's scheme prior to Holgorsen's arrival. "I was just learning [Holgorsen's] system and how we implement it and teach it and coach it and the high reps and the fewer number of plays and more reps in practice. Those were the adjustments and really the newness for me with that style of offense."

That style of offense was good for sixth-best nationally as Oklahoma State passed for over 520 yards per game while ranking No. 3 in the country in points, averaging 44.2 each outing.

The following season, both Holgorsen and the team he left behind reaped the benefits of their 13 games together. One by getting his very own program to lead and the other by learning from the past to create an even more potent attack en route to a nearly perfect season and a No. 3 ranking in the final polls.

Holgorsen, who makes no secret of his control over WVU's offense despite his designation as a head coach, says when he joined Gundy, he knew the Oklahoma State coach was looking to have more of an overseeing role as the "CEO" of his program rather than focusing heavily on any one aspect.

In year three since Holgorsen made that observation, the transition appears to be going smoothly.

"He's done a tremendous job of that if you just look back to since he made that switch, they've won an awful lot of ball games," said Holgorsen. "I think it worked out good for him and an established program like Oklahoma State."

Whether it be Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Kevin Sumlin at Houston or Gundy at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen has always given credit to his past relationships for molding his mentality and his approach to the job he holds now.

"Coach Gundy does such a great job from a mentality standpoint of old school football," said Holgorsen. "The way he handles the offseason, keeping people accountable for what they're supposed to be doing from a toughness standpoint and an effort standpoint is something that's pretty impressive."

WVU running backs coach Robert Gillespie, defensive coordinator Joe DeForest and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital each spent time with Gundy at Oklahoma State, not to mention current defensive graduate assistant Andrew McGee, who played cornerback for the Cowboys before joining the Mountaineers.

To whatever extent, Saturday's game will be a reunion, but it will also be an opportunity to put lessons learned to use in an effort to beat a program that helped place the current staff in Morgantown.

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