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Holgersen Leads Cougars into Big 12

It has been close to 30 years since the Houston Cougars were a member of a major conference. They were once a member of the old Southwest Conference. The SWC took its football and went home for good way back in 1996.

Cougars head man Dana Holgersen, now leads Houston back to Power 5 prominence as the Cougars transition into the Big 12 in 2023. Houston is one of three former Group of 5 teams starting play this year in the Big 12, along with Cincinnati and UCF (BYU joins as a former independent).

The addition of these four “newbies” brings the conference’s team total to 14.

But Holgersen is no stranger to Big 12 football.

The Big 12 Career of Dana Holgersen

Holgersen began his coaching career in 1993 at Valdosta State under Hal Mumme and the late great Mike Leach, coaching quarterbacks, receivers, and the special teams.

Later in 2000, Holgersen was reunited with Leach at Texas Tech for his first exposure to the Big 12. While with the Red Raiders, Holgersen coached receivers (2000-2004), was co-offensive coordinator with Sonny Dykes (2005-2006) and then took over the OC position in 2007.

With Holgersen calling plays, Texas Tech put up prolific offensive numbers during the ’07 season. The Red Raiders gained 6,885 yards of total offense, and 69 total touchdowns. They averaged 40 points per game.

They scored 40+ points in each of their first seven games, including a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State. They destroyed Northwestern State 75-7.

Running that offense was QB Graham Harrell, who completed 512 passes for 5705 yards and 48 TDs, vs only 14 INTs (in 713 pass attempts). He completed a stellar 71% of his passes on his way to winning the Sammy Baugh Trophy.

Harrell completed 134 of those 512 completions to WR Michael Crabtree, the 2007 Biletnikoff Award winner. Crabtree racked up 1962 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns.

After a two year stint (2008-2009) with Houston as the Offensive Coordinator under Kevin Sumlin, Holgersen was back in the Big 12 in 2010. Calling plays for what would be a record-setting offense at Oklahoma State.

2010-Oklahoma State Cowboys

Holgersen called the plays for an offense that consisted of three studs at the skill positions:

  • QB Brandon Weeden: 4277 yards, 34 TDs, 13 INTs, 66% completion percentage.

  • RB Kendall Hunter: 1548 yards, 16 TDs, 5.7 yards per carry.

  • WR Justin Blackmon: 111 catches, 1782 yards, 20 TDs, 16 yards per catch.

The Cowboys ranked #3 in the FBS in total offense (520 yards/game), #2 in passing offense (345 yards/game), and #3 in scoring offense (44 points/game).

2011-2018 West Virginia Mountaineers

After Oklahoma State ran roughshod over their opponents in 2010, Holgersen was hired at West Virginia as the Offensive Coordinator. He later became head coach of the Mountaineers and played his first season (2011) in the Big East Conference.

In 2011, the Mountaineers posted a 10-3 record and won their final four games, including a 70-33 obliteration of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. They finished #17 in the country.

Holgersen and the Mountaineers then moved to the Big 12 and posted double-digit wins again in 2016, with a 10-3 overall record. They won their first six games to start the season but lost to Miami (FL) 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Holgersen turned in only one losing season during his tenure at WVU, a 4-8 record in 2013.

2023-Houston Cougars

In 2019, he was hired as the Head Coach at Houston. Holgersen and the Cougars played for an AAC title in 2021 and finished 12-2. He led the Cougars to an 8-5 record in 2022.

Houston heads into Big 12 play this season led by Athlon Sports preseason All-Big 12 selections WR Matthew Golden, OL Patrick Paul, and DB Adari Haulcy. The Cougars kickoff the season September 2nd when they host UTSA.

They begin Big 12 play when TCU comes to town on September 16th.



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