And the fan reaction? More people showed up for every single one of Bill Stewart's games than the 46,603 who paid to see West Virginia trounce Bowling Green 55-10 last week. Three weeks earlier, 51,911 came to see a 55-12 win over Norfolk State.
It's the opposition, you say? Well, 92,405 watched LSU beat someone called Northwestern State earlier this season. Even more were in that 92,000-seat stadium for that game with woeful Kentucky, which had just lost to awful Louisville.
Important point: I'm not criticizing fans for not showing up for a game against Bowling Green or Norfolk State, or for the fact that this Saturday's Big East opener against Connecticut isn't a sellout. Quite frankly, I don't care.
What I'm saying is don't talk ad nauseam about how West Virginia's rabid fan base is some terrific wild card selling point in the search for a conference to call home.
You might be rabid individually but, on the whole, West Virginia's fan base right now, in the face of that 46,603, seems minor league.
"I got out there and beat the drum [during the summer after being named the head coach]. I talked about how important it is to our athletic department and our players and our coaches to have support,'' Holgorsen said. "And all I heard was how big this was and how much this meant to everybody across the state of West Virginia. This was the NFL team here in town and we're going to be there to support you. Well, having 40,000 people at a game isn't doing that.''
As much as you would like to believe that what happened here two weekends ago with the crowd and the atmosphere and the enthusiasm for the LSU game was an eye-opener to potential conference suitors, so too was 46,603, probably 30,000 of whom disappeared to the parking lots or elsewhere at halftime. By the time the ghost of John Denver appeared to sing Country Roads, the crowd was less than that of the spring game.
Oh, by the way, in the conference to which West Virginia now seemingly aspires, Alabama had 91,312 for its spring game.
Holgorsen doesn't expect miracles, of course. He does expect effort, though. He talked about how easy it was to get his team up for LSU and how hard it was to get excited about Bowling Green - not simply because of any crowd issues, but just the natural letdown, combined with poor weather and everything else.
"Whatever the excuses were, our players didn't buy into it,'' Holgorsen said. "But obviously our fan base did. ... You only get seven opportunities a year. What's so hard about it? Is it cold? It wasn't too cold for our players. It wasn't too cold for our coaches or our managers or our players. They're out there. So why did we have 20,000 people less for this one than we did [for LSU]?
"The only thing we can do about it - and that's why I'm talking about it now - the only thing we can do about it is fix it. We do our best every week to fix whatever the problems are offensively, defensively and special-teams-wise. Well, what's everybody across the state of West Virginia - including the student body - doing to fix the fact that our players had to show up and play in front of 40,000 people?
"We have a conference game coming up this week. It's at noon. I can give you some excuses now. Playing a team that's 2-3; well, they should be 5-0. Playing at noon; well, who cares? Get up. The ManTrip's at 9:45. Are we going to have a good crowd or are we going to have nobody there? Is the weather going to be 85 and sunny or is it going to be 25 and snowing? It really doesn't matter because the coaches and players and trainers and everybody else is going to be there. That's what our job is, so what's the [fans'] job?''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.