WVU football: Holgorsen adds touch on uniforms, renovations
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Dana Holgorsen speaks about the Milan Puskar Center renovations as if he's talking about the growth of a business.
"The thing about college football," the West Virginia football coach said from within the confines of his office, "is that it never stops."
The Puskar Center, which serves as team headquarters, has been overhauled.
Big things, like new photographs or high definition, flat screen televisions, or little things, like actually making sure the locker room doors are locked, have all taken place in the 18 months Holgorsen has been at WVU.
It's part of the inventory he began taking since he stepped on campus before being hired in December 2010 and continued until the most recent time he entertained recruits on campus and bragged about the place they might one day call home.
It's the first phase of a plan, which is to address where his coaches and players meet and where they practice.
Where they play? Holgorsen has no beef with Mountaineer Field, nor does he have much interest in getting worked up about that right now.
"That's administrative and I know Oliver cares about that," Holgorsen said, throwing trust to the man who hired him, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck.
"He's working on that. It doesn't affect me. Everything that I do has everything to do with players and their day-to-day development. Having suites or a bigger press box; all of that doesn't interest me."
In truth, WVU has spruced up Mountaineer Field through the years, most recently with in-game audio and video elements. Holgorsen put his own personal touch on the game-day experience in 2011 with the creation of the Mountaineer Mantrip, the team's pregame march from the spot in the parking lot where the buses stopped to send the Mountaineers on their way into the stadium.
Granted, that was the source of some suspicion last season, when the defensive staff never participated. At the end of that season, three of those defensive coaches left WVU and Holgorsen for the University of Arizona.
The Mantrip will return for the 2012 season.
"Absolutely," Holorsen said.
Not only that, but with the entire coaching staff.
"Absolutely," he said. "To me, it wasn't a big deal. I don't make anybody do anything - well, that's a little bold for me to say that. Obviously, I've got to make people do specific things. That's part of my job. But they're going to want to do it now."
Some parts of Mountaineer Field still need a fresh coat of paint, so to speak, or even a new color. He said it's important for the players to feel like being in the stadium is a special event, but acknowledged the barren gray walls, which blend into the aluminum stands, don't help.
Or do they?
One of WVU's new touches for the fast-approaching football season, which officially begins when players report Aug. 3, is a set of gray uniforms - helmet, jersey and pants. It's a major deviation from the traditional old gold and blue
"It's kind of like Boise State's blue uniforms and blue turf," Holgorsen said.
"We're looking for a home-field advantage."
He's halfway honest. The Mountaineers are looking for an edge, but one that helps secure players to put on the field to begin with.
"It's a recruiting thing," Holgorsen said. "If you look across the country, we're behind on this. Everyone is going (Nike) Pro Combat. Everyone has three or four new uniforms. We're far from that. It's recruiting. Why is everyone doing it? Because the kids want it. It's television and marketing and the kids get excited about what they can see."
When coaches talk about how spirited and aggressive the sport is these days, they don't limit the scope to what happens in the regular season. There are battles everywhere, be it in scheduling or televised games, facilities or ticket prices, coaching salaries or recruiting budgets, Twitter followers or camp attendance.
And everywhere you find a matchup you can find someone looking for an edge.
"Everything is hard in this profession because of how competitive it is," Holgorsen said. "Marshall is trying to be good. Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, they're all trying to be good, never mind the nine teams in the conference we're about to join that currently exist. It's one of the most competitive situations ever.
"How competitive is recruiting? We've got to offer 2,000 kids to get 20. It's such a competitive profession and such a competitive sport that maybe people don't fully understand this. Because West Virginia has been so blessed with how many games we've won, I don't think everyone understands the true meaning of competition. It comes down to what everyone else in the country is doing and trying to be right there with them."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.