Dana Holgorsen, who made the move east to WVU from his southwestern roots, recalled watching Big East games as he prepared for his own contests in Conference USA and the Big XII.
“The Big East has always been very interesting to me,” he said. “In my 12 years in the southwest, on outside looking in, the Big East has always been very competitive. I'd go home on Thursday night preparing for our game and turn on the TV and watch a Big East game that ended up being very exciting. I've watched Rutgers and Cincinnati and WV make runs on the national level, and there was a tremendous national appeal with that, because you can see it week in and week out.”
If the availability of Big East games initially grabbed Holgorsen's interest, it was another factor that has held it.
“The competitiveness in the league is very intriguing, and it's something that makes us tick as football coaches,” he explained. “Game in and game out, you have to have guys ready to play. Where I was in the last 12 years, that was not always the case. A lot of times, it was the same one or two teams at the top of the league. In the Big East, you better be ready to play, because anyone from team one to team eight can win.”
Closer to home, Holgorsen discussed his offensive and defensive outlook and the game day atmosphere at West Virginia.
“I am excited about our situation. The perception of what I thought West Virginia was, when I got here, I realized it was the defense that has won so many games over the past few years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for our defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel. We lost seven starters, on defense, but we have a very good nucleus coming back. Jeff and his staff do a great job, and they always put a very good product on the field."
Holgorsen singled out cornerback Keith Tandy, defensive end Bruce Irvin and safety Terence Garvin before moving on to the offensive side of the ball.
“The offense is still a work in progress. I brought in a new offensive staff, and we have to translate from staff to our players. Geno Smith, our returning all_Big East quarterback, is picking up the system well. We need to get him experience, and we have to get guys to feed off him and make everyone better. Tavon Austin is another all-Big East guy. He's a dynamic kid who can touch it on a whole bunch of different plays, and it's our job as coaches to get him the ball as much as we can.
“We have something to be proud of in the game day atmosphere at West Virginia. Everyone familiar with WVU knows about the amount of interest we have on game day. At home games we have a whole bunch of fun. We had fun at the spring game, and we had 25,000 people there. We're going to host Coach Pasqualoni and the defending Big East champs (Connecticut) and after Thanksgiving we will host the Backyard Brawl. I'm familiar with Coach Graham there, and he's familiar with me, so that should make that game even more interesting.”
Holgorsen also offered quick comments on a few other topics:
On his initial Big East Media Day: “I am really, really, really, excited to be here. From a social standpoint to meeting a bunch of good people, it has been a great experience. I am excited I am able to do this a year early.”
On West Virginia's recent success: “I am not oblivious to the fact that WVU won 60 games in the past six years. It's exciting for me to get in this situation and compete in one of finest conferences in the country. Looking to the future, I think the conference is in great shape with our leadership, and with all of the great coaches that are here.”