MORGANTOWN - There is a popular belief that Dana Holgorsen became West Virginia's head football coach having never really paid much attention to the Mountaineers.
After all, he's an Iowa native who has coached primarily in the Southwest (Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State) and before that in the South (Valdosta State, Mississippi College and Wingate).
Not once has his path crossed with that of West Virginia. He's never coached against the Mountaineers and, for the most part, he's seldom even coached with guys who have any WVU ties or have crossed paths with the Mountaineers more than briefly.
That's not to say he hasn't been exposed to West Virginia football, though.
"I remember being in high school and watching Don Nehlen's teams and being impressed,'' Holgorsen said. "I was in Iowa and watched a lot of football on TV and there were a couple of years there when they were really good.''
One of those was 1988, when Major Harris and West Virginia went 11-0 before losing to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
"When you're a junior or senior in high school, you watch teams and they kind of stick with you,'' he said. "I really liked watching those teams.''
That, of course, was a long time ago. The coach that Holgorsen eventually became seems to have been influenced very little by those West Virginia teams he saw in high school. The styles aren't similar by any stretch of the imagination to those Nehlen teams, nor is what Holgorsen does offensively akin to what Rich Rodriguez would later install in Morgantown.
With just one exception.
There is one element of that WVU offense under Rodriguez that Holgorsen embraced - tempo. And it was a touch of fate that made it come about.
In early 2008, Holgorsen had just completed his third season as the offensive coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. That was the same time that Kevin Sumlin