Houston Chronicle reports that Dana Holgorsen, the head coach of the University of Houston football team, has been fired following a 4-8 season as the Cougars transitioned into the Big 12. Holgorsen’s departure marks the end of his tenure, which saw a mix of successes and challenges.

The 2021 season under Holgorsen saw Houston achieve a 12-2 record, an appearance in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, and a No. 17 AP Top 25 finish. However, the subsequent season witnessed a drop in performance, ending with an 8-5 record, and the 2023 season turned out to be particularly challenging with three consecutive losses.

Holgorsen, who arrived at Houston in 2019, was initially seen as a significant acquisition, leaving West Virginia after eight seasons. His contract, one of the richest in the Group of Five, included a substantial bonus if Houston reached power conference membership.

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Despite facing rumors of being on the verge of termination in December, Holgorsen responded confidently, stating, “There ain’t no f—ing hot seat in my mind. There just ain’t.” He emphasized his achievements, including winning 20 games in two years and back-to-back bowl victories, along with having a multi-year contract with a challenging buyout.

The termination now triggers a buyout of nearly $15 million for Holgorsen, as Houston begins its coaching search during its first season in the Big 12.

Who is Dana Holgorsen?

Dana Carl Holgorsen, born on June 21, 1971, is an American college football coach. Before coaching at the University of Houston, he served as the head coach at West Virginia University from 2011 to 2018. Throughout his coaching career, Holgorsen gained experience under notable coaches like Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, and Mike Gundy.

Known for his tactical approach and strategic insights, Holgorsen’s coaching journey has been marked by both triumphs and challenges. His impact on Houston’s football program, particularly during the transition to the Big 12, is now part of his coaching legacy.

An extension last year extended Holgorsen’s contract through 2027. The extension required the University of Houston (UH) to “negotiate in good faith” another extension upon the school’s admission to a Power 5 conference.

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Holgorsen’s original contract fully guaranteed his first three seasons, with a 60 percent buyout beyond that. He is set to earn $4.3 million in 2023 with $100,000 annual raises, reaching $4.7 million in 2027.

If the buyout terms of Holgorsen’s original deal apply to his latest extension, it would cost Houston approximately $15 million to part ways after the 2023 campaign. The Houston athletics department reported $3.8 million in donations for the 2021 fiscal year.