Dana Holgorsen has one foot out the door for Houston, which means it's time for West Virginia to find a new head coach.
Fortunately for WVU AD Shane Lyons, Holgorsen's departure was anything but a shock. The two sides spent the fall locked in stalemated negotiations for a contract extension -- hence, Holgo's departure for Houston -- so West Virginia can begin its search in a sprint, not a crawl.
Sources told FootballScoop over the past two days that Troy head coach Neal Brown and Cincinnati Luke Fickell are strong candidates at this time. Other outlets have reported their candidacy as well.
Brown, just 38 and 31-8 in his past three seasons at Troy, has been a candidate for a number of Power 5 jobs over the past year but, for one reason or another, hasn't been able to make a match. The Dec. 23 SB Nation article sums it up nicely: "How the hell is Neal Brown still at Troy?" Perhaps the stars were aligning for this job, as Brown's system would allow him to slide ride in at WVU with little to no disruption.
Fickell has seemingly spent his entire 45 years on Earth positioning himself for the Ohio State job; the Columbus native played and GA'd at Ohio State, then spent 15 years working as an assistant for Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. He left in 2017 to take the Cincinnati head job where, after a 4-8 debut, he rocketed the Bearcats to 11-2 this fall, bookended by wins over UCLA and Virginia Tech.
However, Ohio State promoted Ryan Day to replace Meyer, taking his dream job off the table and perhaps opening Fickell up to Plan B.
Our understanding is that Lyons and the WVU administration plan to prioritize those two candidates, but the big money is pushing for more seasoned options such as Mike Leach and Butch Jones. Additionally, Lane Kiffin reportedly interviewed for the Houston job (per Bruce Feldman) and could look to work his way in here as well.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Bruce Feldman now tweets that Bruce's own report that Lane interviewed for the Houston job is not accurate.