In some ways it almost seems standard, as if all coaches were signing uniform pacts where only the dollar amounts change. And, like it or not, those dollar amounts where Holgorsen are concerned, as we've already illustrated, are not out of the ordinary for a program attempting to compete at this level.
As for requiring full payment to a fired coach as opposed to the coach buying out his contract (a bill now-frequently footed by his new school)? Well, that's pretty standard, too. Have we forgotten already that when Rich Rodriguez finally agreed to pay his $4 million buyout to WVU that Michigan paid $2.5 million of that? Now schools routinely pay the full amount and are even creatively attempting to write the payments off without taxes by calling them business expenses.
What grates on some WVU fans these days, of course, is the pay-in-full part of firing a coach, which they see as the only reason Holgorsen wasn't fired and thus blame trained-attorney Oliver Luck for writing a horrid contract. But it's only horrid in the sense that all coaches' contracts are that way. It's the way it's done these days.
As Jere Longman wrote in the New York Times, "For an especially lucrative occupation, one might consider becoming a fired college football coach.'' And that was a full year ago, and it has only gotten worse.
Consider some of my personal favorites:
n When Tennessee fired Derek Dooley last year, it was on the hook initially for $5 million to Dooley, $4 million to his assistants and $1.4 million to Cincinnati for grabbing Butch Jones as Dooley's replacement. Although some of that obligation disappeared, the school also then signed Jones for $18.2 million over six years and was in such a financial hole it could no longer afford to pay $18 million in contributions it was scheduled to give to its own academic side.
n You think Holgorsen is the only coach still on the job in part because of finances? Nebraska didn't get rid of Bo Pelini in part because it would owe him $8 million plus buyouts for his assistants and the school has already paid or is on the hook for $5.8 million in buyouts to its last two coaches, Frank Solich and Bill Callahan.
n Auburn fired Gene Chizik last year and it worked out pretty well on the field, obviously. In the budget? Not so much. Chizik and his staff got or are getting $11.09 million, including $208,334 checks to Chizik every month for 36 months.
n If Kansas were to give up on Charlie Weis after winning four games in two years, it would owe him his full $2.5 million salary for the rest of his contract. Not bad considering Weis no doubt has a few bucks still lying around from his unfinished Notre Dame contract three jobs ago.
n And then there's Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. If he's fired he doesn't get his full salary, just 75 percent of it. Like Holgorsen, Ferentz's current contract was signed in the aftermath of an Orange Bowl win after the 2009 season and is a whopper — 10 years at an average of nearly $4 million, making him the ninth-highest-paid coach in the country (Chew on that for a minute: $4 mil is No. 9). If he were fired — as many wanted after he, too, went 4-8 in 2012 — Iowa would have to pay him 75 percent, or $3 million a year, through 2020.
The point here, I suppose, is that if you wish to view Holgorsen's contract as an albatross around the figurative neck of WVU, feel free because it is. But don't view it as a unique anomaly, something into which a bunch of backwoods hillbillies were snookered.
It's not. It's simply the lay of the land.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1