It’s Jan. 1, 2019 in the Eastern Time Zone as you read this, which means Dana Holgorsen’s buyout at West Virginia has now dropped to $1 million. FootballScoop first laid out earlier this week that Houston, who on Saturday cleared the deck by firing Major Applewhite, was waiting until this moment in time to hire Holgorsen away from WVU, and now that plan is reportedly coming into action.
Cougars Den and SB Nation reported late Monday night that Houston does indeed plan to hire Holgorsen, with an announcement set for Tuesday.
According to SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey, the sides have agreed on a 5-year contract worth $20 million.
That $4 million year average salary not only makes Holgorsen the highest-paid coach in Group of 5 history, it actually represents a raise from the $3.6 million he made at WVU in 2018.
The highest paid Group of 5 coach in 2018 was Memphis’ Mike Norvell — at $2.6 million. Holgorsen’s salary will surpass that by more than 50 percent. He’ll more than double the $1.75 million Applewhite made this season.
Sources confirm to @HoustonRivals that Dana Holgorsen has agreed to accept the Head Coaching position at Houston. I'm told they are waiting for time to pass when Holgorsen's buyout drops to $1M.
— Jefferson Powell (@JeffersonPowell) January 1, 2019
The appeal on this one was obvious. Holgorsen’s tenure at West Virginia had run its course after eight seasons, particularly a 2018 campaign that saw the Mountaineers gear up to win their first Big 12 championship but ultimately fall short, dropping a win-and-you’re-in home game with Oklahoma in a 59-56 shootout. WVU loses a number of major players from 2018 to 2019 — quarterback Will Grier, its top two receivers, its tight end and its two best defensive players, to name six — so rather than rebuild in Year 9 in Morgantown, Holgorsen has opted to reset his clock at a new destination.
Holgorsen spent the 2008-09 seasons in Cougar red as Kevin Sumlin’s offensive coordinator and maintained his residence and his friendship with Tilman Fertitta. He has reportedly remarked to friends that he views Houston as the best talent-producing city in the nation.
Meanwhile, Houston is making a major institutional push to challenge UCF in the American and, beyond that, to join the likes of TCU, Utah and Louisville as schools that made the leap across the ever-growing canyon separating the Have Nots from the Haves. Pulling a sitting Big 12 coach shows that Houston means business.
The news should become official Tuesday. Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.