Saturday, May 21, 2022

Dana Holgorsen contract: Houston coach agrees to six-year, $26.7 million extension following banner season

Houston and Dana Holgorsen have agreed to a six-year contract extension, keeping the coach with the Cougars through 2027. The new deal comes on the heels of a banner season for Holgersen in which he led the Cougars to a 12-2 record, a berth in the AAC Championship Game and win over Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl.

Holgorsen will earn $4.2 million in 2022 as part of the $26.7 million agreement, with annual increases of $100,000 and a staff budget increase to $5.5 million in 2022. 

“We’re excited about where we are and the direction we’re headed,” said athletic director Chris Pezman in a statement. “Getting Dana locked up for six years ahead of our conference transition was important for continuity. We look forward to our future with Dana at the helm.”

Holgorsen is 19-15 in three years at the program after jumping from West Virginia. He went 61-41 in eight years with the Mountaineers, which included a pair of 10-win seasons. His jump from a Power Five school to a Group of Five school was curious at the time, but his connections to the region have made Houston a power in the AAC.

“This is a long-term commitment,” said Holgorsen. “I am extremely appreciative for the leadership and investment from Tilman Fertitta, Renu Khator and Chris Pezman. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be at the University of Houston for the foreseeable future.”

What does this mean for Holgorsen and the Cougars?

Continued offensive prowess

Holgorsen is one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the country, and Houston has been near the top of the AAC in multiple offensive categories since his arrival. Under his tutelage, Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune tied with Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder with 30 touchdown passes in 2021, the second-best mark in the AAC behind SMU’s Tanner Mordecai. Tune’s 158.06 passer rating was also second in the conference behind Ridder’s 158.68. The Cougars enjoyed a complementary rushing attack last year, too, with Alton McCaskill notching the second-most rushing touchdowns in the conference (16).

The Cougars finished last season with the top red zone scoring percentage in the AAC (89.09%), the No. 2 third-down conversion percentage (42.13%) and No. 3 scoring offense (35.9 points per game). His Mountaineer offenses were similarly effective. West Virginia finished in the top four in the Big 12 in yards per play during seven of Holgorsen’s eight years in Morgantown.

Stability heading into the Big 12

Houston will join Cincinnati, BYU and UCF in the new-look Big 12 starting no later than 2024, with the expansion coming in response to the SEC poaching Texas and Oklahoma, two of the signature programs currently in the Big 12. 

The powers-that-be at Houston clearly think that Holgorsen, who has experience coaching in the Big 12 from his time with West Virginia, is the right man to lead the Cougars through the transition process. An Iowa native, Holgorsen has spent the majority of his coaching career within the current Big 12 footprint, including stints at Texas Tech under Mike Leach and Oklahoma state under Mike Gundy. 

That experience will help the Cougars recruit at the level they’ll need in order to contend for the Big 12 championship once they officially make the jump.

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