Dana Holgorsen
Holgorsen with West Virginia in 2017
Current position
TitleHead coach
ConferenceBig 12
Annual salary$4 million
Biographical details
Born (1971-06-21) June 21, 1971 (age 52)
Davenport, Iowa, U.S.
Playing career
1989St. Ambrose University
1990–1992Iowa Wesleyan
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1993–1995Valdosta State (QB/WR/ST)
1996–1998Mississippi College (QB/WR/ST)
1999Wingate (QB/WR)
2000–2004Texas Tech (IWR)
2005–2006Texas Tech (co-OC/IWR)
2007Texas Tech (OC/IWR)
2008–2009Houston (OC/QB)
2010Oklahoma State (OC/QB)
2011–2018West Virginia
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
Big East (2011)
FWAA First-Year Coach of the Year (2011)[1]

Dana Carl Holgorsen (born June 21, 1971) is an American college football coach who is the head coach at the University of Houston. He was the head coach at West Virginia University from 2011 to 2018. During his coaching career he has served under coaches such as Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, and Mike Gundy.[2][3]

Playing career

Holgorsen attended Mount Pleasant Community High School in Mount Pleasant, Iowa graduating in 1989. He was an all-conference selection at wide receiver both his junior and senior years. As a senior, he totaled 33 receptions for 661 yards and eight touchdowns.[4] He was nominated to the Iowa Shrine Bowl all-star south team where he had one reception for 20 yards.[5] He was also all-conference in basketball and on the track and field team.

Holgorsen played one season at St. Ambrose University where he was a contributor as a freshman.[6] He then transferred to Iowa Wesleyan where he would finish his career with 145 receptions and 1,711 yards both good enough for 7th all-time at the university.[7]

Coaching career

Early career

Holgorsen spent time at Valdosta State (1993–95) as the quarterbacks, receivers and special teams coach under head coach Hal Mumme, at Mississippi College (1996–98) as the quarterbacks, receivers and special teams coach and at Wingate (1999) as the quarterbacks and receivers coach.

Texas Tech

Holgorsen was a member of the coaching staff at Texas Tech from 2000–2007, serving as the inside receivers coach from 2000–04, before being elevated to co-offensive coordinator alongside Sonny Dykes from 2005–06 and offensive coordinator in 2007. The move reunited him with head coach Mike Leach, whom Holgorsen had previously coached with at Valdosta State under Hal Mumme. While there, his offenses increased the amount of yardage from 324.8 yards of total offense to 529.6, an increase of more than 200 yards per game. The Red Raiders were No. 7 nationally prior to Holgorsen becoming offensive coordinator and raised their yardage total to No. 4 in 2005, his first season directing the offense. In his two years as offensive coordinator, his squad was nationally ranked No. 8 in 2006 and No. 3 in 2007. In 2007, Texas Tech led the nation in passing (470.31), was No. 2 in total offense (529.62) and was No. 7 in scoring offense (40.9). Quarterback Graham Harrell led the nation in total offense and Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree led the nation in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. In 2006, the Red Raiders ranked No. 3 nationally in passing offense and No. 6 in total offense. Harrell once again was outstanding, finishing No. 3 nationally in total offense with 344.38 yards per game. Texas Tech led the nation in passing in 2005, was No. 4 in scoring offense (39.4) and No. 6 in total offense (495.83). Quarterback Cody Hodges was No. 2 in the nation with 396.08 yards per game.


Houston had long been known for high-scoring offenses, from the Veer, which tallied 100 points in one game, to the Run and Shoot of the late 1980s, which set numerous college football records. As offensive coordinator at Houston, Holgorsen gained prominence and recognition as one of the most promising, up-and-coming offensive coaches in the country, and his success running the Cougar offense set the table for future coaching opportunities. During his two-year tenure with the Cougars, Holgorsen's offenses accounted for 563 yards of total offense per game, including 433.7 yards passing, and 42.2 points per game. His offense ranked No. 3 in total offense in 2008 with a duo of freshmen quarterbacks and No. 1 in 2009 behind the arm of Heisman finalist and All-Conference quarterback Case Keenum. In 2008–2009, quarterback Case Keenum led the nation in total offense, averaging 403.2 yards per game as a sophomore and 416.4 yards his junior season. He also ranked among the top 10 nationally in pass efficiency both years.[3] Under Holgorsen's tutelage, Case Keenum would go on to become college football's all-time leading passer in yards gained and touchdowns. At Houston, Holgorsen demonstrated his own brand of the Air Raid offense that often used motion to confuse opposing defenses, as well as wearing them down. In 2009, Holgorsen developed a set called the "diamond formation," which features multiple diverging running backs in the backfield who use spread formations to gain yards after catching short passes. Houston's fast wide receivers were ideal to the style of spread Holgorsen ran, and Houston continued using much the same offense after Holgorsen departed to lead the NCAA with over 50 points per game, and 600 yards of offense per game in 2011. At Houston, Holgorsen mentored not only Case Keenum but offensive coaches including Kliff Kingsbury and Jason Phillips, who continued running a Holgorsen-inspired Air Raid offense at Houston.

Oklahoma State

Dana Holgorsen, Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma State University

When Holgorsen was hired at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys' offense was ranked No. 61 nationally in total offense. In his first season the offense led the nation in total offense, averaging 537.6 yards per game, was No. 2 in passing offense, averaging 354.7 yards per game, and No. 3 in scoring offense, averaging 44.9 points per game.[8] The postseason accolades have been plentiful for Holgorsen's offensive players in 2010, quarterback Brandon Weeden became the first OSU passer to ever earn first team All-Big 12 honors. He was also a finalist for the Manning Award, given to the top quarterback in the nation. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon was named the recipient of the 2010 Biletnikoff Award, given to the top receiver in the nation, and running back Kendall Hunter was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. Weeden, Hunter, and Blackmon became only the second trio in NCAA history to pass for at least 3,000 yards, run for more than 1,500 yards and finish with more than 1,500 yards receiving in the same season.[3] Holgorsen was a 2010 finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.

These are the school records set by the Holgorsen-coordinated Oklahoma State offense during the 2010 season:[9]

West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen in 2012

On December 22, 2010, Holgorsen moved to West Virginia as offensive coordinator. At that time, athletic director Oliver Luck also announced that Holgorsen would replace Bill Stewart as head coach in 2012, saying that he didn't think Stewart was capable of leading the Mountaineers to a national championship.[10]

The relationship between Stewart and Holgorsen was strained from the start and finally came to a head when Colin Dunlap, a former reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, claimed Stewart had asked him and another reporter from the Charleston Gazette to dig up negative information about Holgorsen's behavior. Holgorsen did apologize for an early morning incident when he was asked to leave a West Virginia casino;[11] no further negative information came forth. Although Luck was unable to fully substantiate the claims, he decided that Stewart had become too much of a distraction and forced Stewart to resign on June 10, naming Holgorsen head coach immediately.[12][13]

Luck had anticipated that the coach-in-waiting arrangement might not work as originally planned. Holgorsen's contract stated that his salary would be prorated at $1.4 million for the remainder of the season should he become head coach before 2012.[14] In addition, the $250,000 annual bonus applied to the head-coaching salary would begin a year early, resulting in an additional $2 million over the six-year period addressed by his contract.[13]

Holgorsen coached the Mountaineers to a share of the Big East Conference crown in his first season at WVU and a Bowl Championship Series berth in the 2012 Orange Bowl, WVU's first appearance in the Orange Bowl. WVU defeated Clemson 70–33 in that record-setting game.[15] The successful season triggered $225,000 worth of bonuses[16] for Holgorsen – $100,000 for a 10-win season, $75,000 for a BCS appearance and $50,000 for a BCS win.

In August 2012, Holgorsen received a new six-year contract. He received $2.3 million in the first year, with raises bringing his salary to $2.9 million at the end of the contract. He also was eligible for up to $600,000 in bonuses each year. The deal brought Holgorsen's compensation in line with other Big 12 coaches. In only his second year as a head coach, he ranked seventh in the 10-school conference in salary.[17]


Holgorsen resigned from his West Virginia job on January 1, 2019, to accept the head-coaching position at Houston, where he previously was the offensive coordinator under head coach Kevin Sumlin.[18] In 2022, he received a contract extension to go until 2027.

Dana Holgorsen - Houston Cougars football vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Personal life

Holgorsen is a native of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he graduated from Mount Pleasant Community High School in 1989. Holgorsen played wide receiver at Iowa Wesleyan College, earning a degree in 1993 and a master's in health and physical education from Valdosta State University in 1995.[19][20] Holgorsen had been recruited to Iowa Wesleyan by head coach Hal Mumme and offensive coordinator Mike Leach, both of whom he coached with later in their careers.

Holgorsen has three children: McClayne, Logan, and Karlyn.[19] He built his home in Morgantown in 2014. The home is the first luxury residence in the U.S. to be built completely of cross-laminated timber.[21]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East Conference) (2011)
2011 West Virginia 10–3 5–2 T–1st W Orange 18 17
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12 Conference) (2012–2018)
2012 West Virginia 7–6 4–5 T–5th L Pinstripe
2013 West Virginia 4–8 2–7 T–7th
2014 West Virginia 7–6 5–4 T–4th L Liberty
2015 West Virginia 8–5 4–5 T–5th W Cactus
2016 West Virginia 10–3 7–2 T–2nd L Russell Athletic 17 18
2017 West Virginia 7–6 5–4 T–4th L Heart of Dallas
2018 West Virginia 8–4 6–3 T–3rd L Camping World 22 20
West Virginia: 61–41 38–32
Houston Cougars (American Athletic Conference) (2019–2022)
2019 Houston 4–8 2–6 T–5th (West)
2020 Houston 3–5 3–3 6th L New Mexico
2021 Houston 12–2 8–0 T–1st W Birmingham 17 17
2022 Houston 8–5 5–3 T–4th W Independence
Houston Cougars (Big 12 Conference) (2023–present)
2023 Houston 0–0 0–0
Houston: 27–20 18–12
Total: 88–61
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "Holgorsen Named FWAA First-Year Coach of the Year". West Virginia Metro News. January 9, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "Oklahoma State's Holgorsen hired at West Virginia". Associated Press. December 15, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Montoro, Mike (December 15, 2010). "Holgorsen Joins Football Staff". MSNsportsNET. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  4. ^ "South All-Star Player Sketches". Sioux City Journal. July 27, 1989. p. 47. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  5. ^ "Clipped From Sioux City Journal". Sioux City Journal. July 30, 1989. p. 41. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  6. ^ "River Falls' comeback drowns St. Ambrose". Quad-City Times. October 1, 1989. p. 28. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  7. ^ "Iowa Wesleyan University Football Season and Career Individual Leaders" (PDF). Retrieved March 16, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Hickman, Dave (December 15, 2010). "At previous stops, Holgorsen's impact has been felt right away". Charleston Gazette. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  9. ^ Haisten, Bill (December 15, 2010). "Dana Holgorsen reportedly leaving OSU for West Virginia". Tulsa World sports extra. Retrieved December 26, 2010.
  10. ^ West Virginia Football Coach Bill Stewart Resigns, Dana Holgorsen Named Head Coach. Associated Press, June 10, 2011.
  11. ^ Prisbell, Eric (June 11, 2011). "Colleges". The Washington Post.[dead link]
  12. ^ Hickman, Dave. Stewart out, Holgorsen in at WVU Archived March 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Charleston Gazette-Mail, June 11, 2011.
  13. ^ a b West Virginia's Bill Stewart resigns. ESPN, June 10, 2011.
  14. ^ Dana Holgorsen Contract. ESPN, January 25, 2011.
  15. ^ Gardiner, Andy (January 4, 2012). "West Virginia makes history in Orange Bowl rout of Clemson". USA Today. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Dana Holgorsen's deal full of bonuses". Associated Press. January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  17. ^ "West Virginia gives Dana Holgorsen new contract". USA Today. August 8, 2012.
  18. ^ Conway, Tyler. "Report: Dana Holgorsen to Houston After Paying Buyout as WVU Head Coach". Bleacher Report. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Oklahoma State University". Athletic Department. Archived from the original on September 7, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  20. ^ "University of Houston". Athletic Department. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  21. ^ "TallTimber". WVLiving. Archived from the original on November 2, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.