No Drama: Kingsbury and Holgorsen share mutual respect


Don’t expect Texas Tech head coach to fire off any post-game shots at the other team’s head coach this week as he did after beating Arkansas in week 3 of the season. Kingsbury took offense to statements made by Arkansas’ head coach Bret Bielema and shared his discontent with the media after the game.

But there is no bitterness between Kingsbury and his counterpart this week, Dana Holgorsen of West Virginia. In fact, the two used to be roommates.

Holgorsen and Kingsbury worked together when Kingsbury was setting records as the Texas Tech quarterback. Holgorsen was the wide receivers coach under Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach from 2000-2004. But no one knew how the bond between coach and player would manifest itself into a friendly rivalry between colleagues.

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When Kingsbury was still trying to find work as a quarterback, Holgorsen made an interesting proposition to his former player.

"“I said, ‘Come on down here to Houston, and you can go up to the U of H and work out every day and stay in shape and see if this coaching thing is something that you might want to do,’” Holgorsen said. Link"

At the time (2008) Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Houston under now Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. Eventually, Kingsbury took to coaching and was hired by Sumlin as the offensive quality control assistant, the lowest rung on the coaching ladder.

But Kingsbury would be one of the quickest to ever climb his way to the top. And Holgorsen saw it coming.

"According to Holrogsen, “I always knew he was going to be a good coach — his dad was a coach. He was a quarterback, so he’s a smart guy.” Link"

The two coaches wound up living together in Holgorsen’s Houston home but they were far from the typical roommates sitting around playing Play Station together.

"“I would go one way, he would go in one way, and we never saw each other. We’d see each other at work.” Holgorsen admitted. Link"

The two would also go separate ways after their time at Houston landing at rivals of Texas Tech. Holgorsen spent one season at Oklahoma State as the offensive coordinator before being hired to be the West Virginia head coach in 2010. In 2012, Kingsbury would follow Sumlin to Texas A&M as offensive coordinator where he would be for only one season until he was named head coach at Texas Tech.

Once West Virginia entered the Big 12 conference in 2012, the two friends became rivals but it has remained a friendly rivalry.

But don’t think the two will be sharing a room again anytime soon. In fact, they hardly share anything but admiration now that they are competitors.

"“We don’t talk like that anymore,” Holgorsen said. “That’s just the nature of it. We used to talk about anything and everything and would obviously bounce lot of ideas off each other. But the nature of being in conference, we’re not friends like that anymore.” Link"

But regardless of how their friendship has changed, Kingsbury will always owe Holgorsen a debt of gratitude.

"“I definitely picked up a lot from my time around Dana,” Kingsbury admitted. Link"

Since facing off for the first time in Kingsbury’s first season as a head coach (2013) the student and the teacher have played to a draw. Texas Tech won in West Virginia 37-27 with Holgorsen’s Mountaineers returning the favor on a last-second field goal to win 37-34 in Lubbock last year.

The rubber match comes around this weekend and both coaches find themselves in similar positions. Each coach has been signed to a large contract that binds him to the school (Holgorsen’s buyout is $11.3 million while if Kingsbury is fired before the end of his deal, he will receive 75% of the money left on the $10.3 million contract).

These contracts are important, as neither coach has taken his team to the heights fans have expected and both could be considered to be on the hot seat.

To his credit, Holgorsen did coach West Virginia to a Big East championship in 2011, his first year at the helm. However, many critics point out that the players on that team were assembled by the previous coaching staff. Since then, West Virginia has floundered in mediocrity, especially since joining the Big 12.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech is still trying to find its footing as a program under Kingsbury. He is 17-17 as a head coach and his team missed a bowl game last year.

But Kingsbury is Texas Tech’s favorite son while Holgorsen is a brash outsider who often doesn’t mesh with the West Virginia fan base. Still, that huge contract looms as a life raft keeping Holgorsen safe thus far.

But the stakes are high as the two friends meet again. Both see this game as a turning point in the season. Kingsbury could send his team to a bowl game with a win Saturday while Holgorsen’s team could end the season on a run since its November schedule contains the weaker teams in the conference.

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So if you are a fan of drama, don’t expect any from the two coaches this week. While they are no longer roommates but rather rivals, there will always be an underlying mutual respect between the two Air Raid disciples. Besides, the history of this short series suggests that there will be plenty of drama on the field, just not necessarily in the press conferences.