Over the last few days I took it upon myself to gauge the Mountaineer fanbase about the future of the program, their expectations both next season and in general, and if they believed Dana Holgorsen was still the right fit for WVU.
Over 700 responses later I feel I have developed a firm grasp on the tenor of Mountaineer Nation.
I’ll first start by saying thank you to each and every one of you who participated. The responses I got were fantastic. Most of which I expected but some I did not.
So without delaying any further, here are the results.
Do WVU fans expect more from the program in terms of wins, title chances, ect..?
Of course they do. An overwhelming 94% felt the program is underachieving on a yearly basis. However, it is the reasoning behind it is what had me curious, and Mountaineer fans didn’t disappointment.
David Cook summed it up best writing,
“I do expect more from the football program. I expect to play at a high level every game and we HAVE NOT. I was so excited when we went to the Big 12, and I still am. I consider WVU a marquee program, however, we need to be producing a product that is worth watching. I do believe our fan base is somewhat spoiled from the Rich Rod days and this includes myself. I also feel we can compete in conference. The reason we are struggling is NOT because it’s a better and bigger conference, in my opinion it is coaching, recruiting and selling the program. I understand WVU has a hard time competing in the recruiting aspect against bigger schools, but we wouldn’t struggle as bad if we truly had someone(s) that believed, and loved the program. The players feed off the leader, they kids and will follow. I do expect more, the state deserves more. We CAN AND WILL compete in this conference when we have the belief and leadership it deserves. I also understand West Virginia is small compared to these other schools for recruiting, that’s why the staff has to sell a quality product and believe in what they sell. We also need talent across the board, not just offense.”
However, not all Mountaineer fans felt this way. Ed Parsons‘ explained,
“When I was younger I used to think with my heart, not my head. I am fifty-six years old now and I realize that WVU will always be a second tier program.Teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, etc. are the tier one teams. There are a few more, but not many.”
Others relayed Ed’s sentiments just in a different manor, Suzanna Holcomb wrote,
“I would love nothing more for the Mountaineers to have a successful season next year, but sadly I think we will see a similar season compared to this year. Unfortunately our coaching staff can’t develop players. The Mountaineers progressively get worse as the season moves forward. The passing game will be good next year, but the running game is non existence and the defense is mediocre.”
While expectations mostly remain high across the board it is who is leading the program that garnered a more diverse response.
When asked whether Coach Holgorsen was still the right fit for WVU, only 61% felt he was right where he needed to be. 27% felt it was time for a change and 12% were unsure.
Mark Hays responded,
“Dana is about as good of a coach as we can expect. Lots of people think you can go out and replace him with someone better. Not so fast – look no further than Tennessee, Maryland, or Pitt – who have made multiple coaching changes with the same results. Even programs like Notre Dame have struggled to win more than 7-9 games consistently. “
While many mirrored Mark’s response, others agreed but took it a different direction. Joe Kinsley responded with,
“I’m not sure if Dana is right for WVU anymore. I’ve been very supportive of him since his hire. Again he doesn’t seem to be capable of getting the team ready for the big games. Very frustrating indeed. Next season should be a true indication to help answer this. We have a great class returning and the start of a top recruiting class coming in. If not Dana then who?”
Others have simply lost faith, Kin Kinsley wrote,
” I was off the Dana train in 2015. I allowed myself to get sucked back in last year, until I realized that it was still a mediocre team. Honestly, I’ve become apathetic about the program with him at the helm. My interest and excitement is gone. Also, the quanrterback genius has yet to recruit (from high school) a top notch QB. His top four starters have been either a holdover from the previous coaching staff, or transfers (Trickett, Howard, Grier). 4. What are your expectations for next season? It depends on how you mean “expectations.” With what is returning, I expect them to be at the top of the Big 12. However, history tells me that they will crap the bed and lose three or four games. That’s what I expect TO HAPPEN. My expectations are nothing short of a Big 12 title. Holgorsen has had PLENTY of time to get the program to that level.”
Speaking of time, of that 61% that approved of Holgorsen, 84% felt next season will need to be WVU’s best under Holgorsen in order for him to remain at the helm.
Josh Nutter responded,
“Next season I’m expecting the moon and the stars from those guys. We have almost every key contributor back on both sides the the ball. A good kicker coming in from WKU and some help at the corners. With Simmons becoming eligible and what we already have on offense, I look for there to be a lot of fireworks. Anything less than 10 wins and a conference title next season would be a disappointment in my eyes. This is one of the rare occasions where WVU’s stars are aligned just right for a very very successful season.”
And Rob Jackson summed it up perfectly,
“I do think Dana is right, but he better make his move in 2018 or the fan base is gone. Losing games the way WVU has the past few years is exhausting the fan base. Losing games to nearly every ranked team and now getting throttled by a 6-6 UTAH was a terrible look. Good thing those 20 early signees signed BEFORE this bowl game.”
And for those 12% that were undecided, Justin Underwood had the best response,
“I don’t know how I feel about this question. I don’t like the place that sports are in where, if a team needs a scape goat, they off the coach. This situation also reminds me of a saying, “ better the devil you know than the devil you don’t “ I would like to see an exciting rebirth that got national interest, but not so much that I’m willing to place blame on Dana, or so confident that the problem being that our coach is replaceable.”
An interesting 34% that felt Holgorsen was right for WVU also felt that he needed to make changed to his staff. And most pointed to Jake Spavital. In years past many fans wanted Dana to give up his play calling duties. It seems those tables have started to turn as many who responded felt Dana needed to reassume those duties next season.
Other interesting findings, 57% of all participants mentioned the apparent lack of confidence Chris Chugunov showed in the Heart of Dallas Bowl or lack of depth that Holgorsen had touted at the beginning of the season, especially on the offensive line.
Lastly, despite whether fans liked or disliked Holgorsen, one thing was consistent, next year is the year.
Joseph Stanley wrote,
“My expectations for next year are big (as they always are.) I see a 9 10 win season. See us playing in, if not winning the Big12 title. “
Brian Hamilton felt the same writing,
“My expectations have always been high for our mountaineers but next year‘s squad being high caliber players they are & having the experience they’ve got there’s NO EXCUSE we shouldn’t be playing for Big 12 championship!!!”
Overall, 40% of all participants felt a Big 12 title was in the cards next season with 33% feeling a minimum of 10 years should be a given. Still interestingly enough, 10% felt next season will be just like 2017.