MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With a game remaining in what is certain to go down as a disappointing third season at the helm of West Virginia's football program, Dana Holgorsen believes he still has the backing of the school's administration.
Or at least he believes he has the support of athletic director Oliver Luck.
Speaking at his weekly press conference during a bye week Tuesday, Holgorsen said he had not sat down with Luck for any sort of state-of-the-program discussion.
"Not yet,'' Holgorsen said. "We visit a lot. He's my boss, so we're going to talk a good bit.''
Presumably, any such discussion will take place after West Virginia concludes its season a week from Saturday at home against Iowa State. Regardless of the outcome of that game, though, WVU (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) will finish with its first losing record and no bowl appearance since 2001.
Holgorsen's three teams at WVU have posted records of 10-3, 7-6 and now 4-7, which has naturally raised the issue of job security. The chances of the school firing the coach seem improbable, however, if for no other reason that his contract contains no buyout clause and it appears it would cost the university a minimum of $11.6 million to pay off what remains.
Holgorsen signed his current deal in August of 2012. It is worth at least $14.525 million - including retention payments and excluding bonuses - and does not expire until after the 2017 season.
Holgorsen implied Tuesday that he believes he has the support of Luck, who has an extensive football background and was instrumental in his hiring.
"He understands where we're at and understands where the program's at and understands what it takes to get it better,'' Holgorsen said. "And we're working hard on that.''
"He's a football guy. He understands what it takes to win. He understands what it takes to continue to get better and he knows we're on the right track.''
Luck has refused several times to discuss the immediate future of the football program and did not answer calls Tuesday.
As he has done on more than one occasion this season, Holgorsen again invited the blame for a poor performance.
This time it was Saturday's 31-19 loss at Kansas, which snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak. The loss by the Mountaineers came a week after a dispiriting 47-40 overtime loss to Texas.
"Yeah, the Texas game beat us twice,'' Holgorsen said. "I talked about it not happening and it did.
"Why? Well, you guys can keep pointing the finger at me. That's what my job is. I didn't reach them, didn't get them back and that's on me. I don't mind saying it.''
West Virginia has suffered all kinds of losses this season, from close ones in which it surrendered late leads to blowouts against Maryland and Baylor. This one, though, was different, Holgorsen said.
"It's the first time all year that we didn't play with the energy and the effort that it takes to win the game,'' Holgorsen said. "There have been losses were I wasn't comfortable with the loss, but I'm comfortable with the loss as long as it doesn't have to do with effort. If we lose because of [lack of] effort, that's where I get in a bad spot. And I saw it for the first time on Saturday.
"It's frustrating. Of course it's frustrating. You've just got to keep coaching.''
BRIEFLY: Holgorsen was also asked about facilities upgrades Tuesday. Since he arrived, the most significant project has been remodeling the weight room. He would also like work on the cramped team meeting room and on practice facilities.
"You've got to be able to develop in your weight room. We got that accomplished,'' Holgorsen said. "You've got to be able to meet appropriately, which we can't. And you've got to be able to practice appropriately, which we can't. So those are where we're headed.''
Holgorsen wants to put artificial turf on the spacious grass practice fields and "blow up'' what he called a "dysfunctional'' indoor practice facility.
In lieu of bowl practices during which time is devoted to developing some of the younger players, Holgorsen said he will do some of that during this off week. "We'll make that up,'' he said.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.