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Holgorsen on board with schedule plan

By Dave Hickman, Staff writer
CHRIS DORST | Gazette
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen would like to see the Mountaineers add regional opponents to the nonconference portion of future schedules.

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen is now officially on record as favoring a move toward Power 5 conference schools playing only fellow members in football.

It’s not exactly a firm stance, however.

An ESPN survey of head coaches at all 65 of the power conference schools was published Thursday. They were asked if they were in favor of Power 5 conference schools scheduling only their peers in the future. Nearly half (30) said they were in favor, while 23 were against it and 12 said they were undecided.

“I just think that’s where it’s headed,’’ said Holgorsen, one of the 30 who said they favored the concept.

“My only ‘but’ is it would be silly for us to do it, to play 12 teams that are Power 5, and a specific university in the Big 12 is going to play none [in the non-conference]. If one’s going to do it, everybody should do it.’’

There are obvious drawbacks to that kind of scheduling, not the least of which is what would likely be an inability to schedule more than six homes games. When Power 5 conference schools schedule non-Power 5 FBS schools or FCS schools, many times the games don’t have as many — or sometimes any — return dates. It allows the bigger schools to essentially buy home games to fill their coffers.

No Power 5 school is going to agree to anything less than straight home-and-home series.

There is also the issue of rivalries or in-state game that would be jeopardized, as well as the question of games against upper-tier non-Power 5 schools like Boise State or BYU. West Virginia has one of those scheduled, a game in Washington, D.C., in 2016 against BYU.

Holgorsen acknowledged those issues, but maintains that it appears that is the way the system is headed, especially given the advent of the College Football Playoff, which will put a greater importance on strength of schedule.

What Holgorsen would like to do is use those non-conference games to schedule fellow Power 5 conference schools that are easier to get to than the Big 12 portion of the schedule.

“You can see, based on who we’ve scheduled, I’m in favor of playing regional opponents,’’ Holgorsen said.

Indeed, while there are still non-Power 5 schools on the schedule (next year there are two), West Virginia’s future schedules have been updated recently to include Virginia Tech, Penn State, Tennessee and North Carolina State. That’s in addition to a long-time series with Maryland. All are Power 5 conference schools and all a shorter commute than any of the Mountaineers’ regular Big 12 opponents.

And that’s what Holgorsen wants.

“The challenges of a Big 12 schedule from a geography standpoint have been very well documented,’’ Holgorsen said. “It doesn’t affect us one bit as coaches and players, but I think the fan base would be pretty excited about regional opponents that they’re used to playing.’’

In the ESPN survey, five other Big 12 coaches favored an all-Power 5 schedule — Baylor’s Art Briles, Kansas’ Charlie Weis, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. Opposed were Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Texas’ Charlie Strong, TCU’s Gary Patterson and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury.

Pac-12 and SEC coaches also had a majority in favor of the idea, the Big Ten was split and the ACC was slightly against it.

BRIEFLY: West Virginia went through three straight days of full-contact practices before backing off a bit Thursday and going in just shoulder pads and helmets. “Guys are starting to get sore,’’ Holgorsen said. “But that’s just part of practice.’’ … Safety K.J. Dillon practiced Thursday for the first time, but in a green (limited) jersey. Guard Adam Pankey was also in green. … Kicker Josh Lambert was held out to rest his leg, but holder and backup kicker/punter Mike Molinari kicked two 50-yard field goals with punter Nick O’Toole as his holder. … And starting quarterback Clint Trickett was dressed in a red medical jersey, but took the reps with the No 1 offense early in practice. “Using extreme caution,’’ Holgorsen said of his starting quarterback. “That’s what that’s about.’’

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1


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