The previous time West Virginia University hired a head football coach with virtually no ties to the Mountain State was 1980, when WVU officials announced the appointment of Michigan assistant Don Nehlen.
Don Who? was the reaction throughout West Virginia, where the natives were asking each other whether it was pronounced Nay-len or Nee-len. Little did they know at the time Nehlen would stay for 21 years and become the architect for West Virginia's modern-day football success.
Once Nehlen retired, WVU tabbed one of his former players, Marion County native Rich Rodriguez, to be his successor. It was a highly-popular choice. Finally, West Virginia would have a Mountaineer doing Mountaineer business. But that Mountaineer left the Mountaineers high and dry following the final regular season game in 2007, a devastating 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh that kept WVU from playing in its first BCS National Championship game.
Faced with the prospect of preparing for a Fiesta Bowl without a coach in charge, West Virginia turned to yet another Mountain State native as New Martinsville's Bill Stewart, a member of Rodriguez's staff, was asked to take over where Rodriguez left off. Stewart not only got WVU ready to play, but he engineered a stunning 48-28 upset of heavily-favored Oklahoma. Before that emotional night had ended, WVU officials hastily called a press conference for the next morning at which they announced that Stewart was the new head coach.
After three 9-4 seasons, Stewart learned that new Athletics Director Oliver Luck had hired Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to be his offensive coordinator for the 2011 season, then to replace Stewart as the head coach in 2012.
That awkward scenario never took place. Stewart was fired after a Pittsburgh reporter said Stewart asked him to dig up dirt on Holgorsen.
All of a sudden, Holgorsen was the head coach.
Sports writers had to learn that it was two O's, then an E. And they had to get to know the new coach, who by the very position would become the visible person in the Mountain State (sorry, Gov. Tomblin.).
It quickly became painfully obvious Holgorsen seemed uncomfortable in front of the media and its TV cameras.
When a story surfaced Holgorsen had been kicked out of a casino after 3 a.m., the reaction was predictable.
Even Luck's honeymoon with WVU fans seemed to be over. Many were questioning his wisdom in hiring Holgorsen.
But that now is water under the Westover Bridge. No one other than those extremely bitter over Stewart's demise are questioning Holgorsen, for it's obvious this man can coach football, which is what he was hired to do.
His innovative offense has worked at every stop along his trail to Morgantown and it's working well at WVU. Exceedingly well. Even in West Virginia's one loss in its first six games, it managed to gain more than 500 yards against the vaunted LSU defense.
Plus, as we have gotten to know Holgorsen, we've come both to understand him and like him. Ask him a question and you will get a direct answer. It likely will be short and will include a "you know'', but you will get the information you are seeking.
It's the same with his players, who have come to appreciate his straightforward way of dealing with them. Ask him where you stand and he will tell you in no uncertain terms. It may not be want you want to hear, but it will be crystal clear. The players like that and they like him.
Holgorsen is a no-nonsense guy whose job is to win football games. In half a season, he has proven he can do that, which is particularly impressive because he is doing with players he didn't recruit and weren't accustomed to his system.
Yes, like every other human he has some flaws. Because he holds an extremely public position, some will make sure they are pointed out.
But West Virginia fans hungry for an elusive national championship should feel comfortable they have a coach heading their program who just may be able to deliver that seemingly improbable title.
Dana Holgorsen is our coach. And this veteran observer believes that is a very good thing.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org