Dana Holgorsen was his own worst enemy at UH

Eight months ago, GoCoogs.com told you that Dana Holgorsen’s “f—ing impossible buyout” was not impossible because UH could pay him monthly instead of a lump sum. Other UH outlets said that wasn’t the case, but we had it right because we had his contract. It seems even Dana Holgorsen didn’t understand his contract, at least back in March, before GoCoogs clarified the situation.

On Monday, Sam Khan confirmed what we reported in March: Dana’s payout will be monthly for the next 4+ years. He will get his December direct deposit later this week and 24 more times through the end of the 2025 calendar year. Then, it will flip to 60% of his salary:

On or before December 1, 2023: $358,333.33
All of 2024: $366,666.67 / month (100% of $4.4 million)
All of 2025: $375,000.00 / month (100% of $4.5 million)
All of 2026: $230,000.00 / month (60% of $4.6 million)
All of 2027: $235,000.00 / month (60% of $4.7 million)

Payments are made in “equal monthly installments, per usual payroll procedure.” Holgorsen is still required to mitigate by making reasonable efforts to obtain other employment, allowing UH to pay him less monthly.

There is some belief that Holgorsen knew his fate early last week. Others suggest he did not know about UH’s meetings on his future that were held on Saturday and Sunday. In the UCF postgame, Dana said, “I’ve got a four-year contract. Contracts mean something. If they don’t want me to be the football coach, they have not expressed that to me.” Perhaps this was posturing, telling UH officials he would not negotiate his contract or perhaps he really did not know.

The day after the firing, John Granato – a close friend of Dana Holgorsen – suggested on his radio show that Dana was raising a lot of money for NIL “just because he’s Dana, and he’s got a lot of friends, he’s got a lot of friends with money.” NIL has been a major problem with UH Football under Dana Holgorsen. A significant issue for Alton McCaskill was NIL money went to transfer portal players rather than to guys who had starred at UH.

Dana Holgorsen // Photo © Mario Puente

One of the biggest problems with Dana Holgorsen was the way he negatively recruited against UH. Opposing coaches did not even have to do it; they just had to keep a folder full of Dana’s quotes about his own program. By constantly shirking blame, by saying how hard it is at Houston, by saying facilities were not up to par, that he could not compete until he had upgraded facilities, by pushing players out, by losing starters like Alton McCaskill (NIL) and Cam’Ron Johnson (loyalty to Brandon Jones and NIL), by flailing in the transfer portal when UH had specific and immediate needs, and by not grinding in recruiting like those he was competing with.

The public perception of Dana was a whiner who was constantly focused on what UH could not do and what UH did not have. Some of what he said was 100% true, but when the only message that gets out is negative, that’s your public perception.

So what did the public know about Dana in five years? He was the “mastermind” of the H-Town Shutdown, despite that being untrue. D’Eriq King and his family told Dana before the 2019 Tulane game that D’Eriq would shut it down if they lost to Tulane. He’s also known for the internet meme “I can’t f–n coach this shit,” for drinking Redbull, for Justin Murphy’s lengthy Twitter thread on him, for treating the Birmingham Bowl trophy to cigar burns, for saying “I ain’t taking responsibility for that” after a close win over Rice and for yelling at booing fans at the end of regulation vs. Tulane in 2022, saying in March that he has a “f–n impossible buyout,” and more recently, saying that the “ship has sailed” on 2024 recruits.

As UH tried to build excitement before the July 1st entry into the Big 12, Dana was pushed into ‘action’ to attempt to engage the UH fanbase. The football coach must be the face of the entire Athletics program, and he simply did not care to do it. He made one attempt to engage fans – he went on the Scott & Holman Pawdcast for half an hour in June – but chose not to do anything more than the normal events he is expected to attend. Holgorsen gave fans no reason to believe in him.

You can’t point to one thing that pushed UH to make the change. But the totality of poor on-field performance, no optimism for the future, poor recruiting and efforts in the transfer portal, no serious commitment to NIL, his public persona, and fan and season ticket holder apathy forced UH decision-makers to fire him.

Would that have been different if Holgorsen would have been due a lump sum? I think so but it doesn’t matter, really. That ship has sailed.