WVU coach Holgorsen to return for 2016

MORGANTOWN (AP) — Coach Dana Holgorsen will return for a sixth season at West Virginia.

Athletic director Shane Lyons made the announcement Wednesday night after a previously planned review of Holgorsen and the football program following a 7-5 regular season.

Holgorsen is 35-28 in five seasons. Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, the Mountaineers’ best finish was a tie for fourth.

West Virginia lost four straight games to ranked opponents in October, followed by a four-game winning streak in November.

The team disappointed many fans in a 24-23 loss at Kansas State on Saturday. Kansas State’s Morgan Burns returned a kickoff 97 yards for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter.

On fourth-and-2 at the West Virginia 46 with 2:33 left, Holgorsen let quarterback Skyler Howard keep the ball on a gimpy leg instead of giving it to running back Wendell Smallwood, who had rushed for 141 yards. Howard was tackled for a loss and underdog Kansas State ran out the clock.

“After evaluating our football program after the close of the regular season, I believe that continuity is best for our program,” Lyons said in a statement. “Dana and I will continue to work together to strengthen our football program. No one wants to win more than Dana and I, and we will work together to ensure success.”

West Virginia plays Arizona State (6-6) in the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix on Jan. 2.

Holgorsen’s best results came in 2011. That year, West Virginia beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl with players inherited from predecessor Bill Stewart. The Mountaineers have gone 25-25 since.

Holgorsen’s winning percentage of 55.5 ranks eighth among the last 10 coaches at West Virginia and has two years left on a six-year contract extension he signed in 2012. Holgorsen, 44, stands to earn $2.9 million next season, including a base salary of $250,000.

ESPN first reported that Holgorsen would return.

All-Big 12

West Virginia defensive back Daryl Worley, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and punter Nick O’Toole were selected as first-team all-Big 12 conference honorees, the league announced Wednesday.

Three other Mountaineers — running back Wendell Smallwood, offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky and defensive back KJ Dillon — made the conference’s second team.

Worley finished the regular season with a team-high six interceptions and among all Football Bowl Subdivision players, he is tied for fifth in interceptions. Most important, he helped anchor a secondary that had to cope with the loss of star safety Karl Joseph to a knee injury in early October.

Kwiatkoski, a Bethel Park graduate, finished first on the team in tackles with 80, 57 of which were unassisted. He received at least one vote for Big 12 defensive player of the year.

Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops was named the conference’s coach of the year while the Sooners’ quarterback, Baker Mayfield, won offensive player of the year honors. Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings and Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah were named co-defensive players of the year.

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