MAKING A SPLASH

Holgorsen hire shows UH, Fertitta serious about playing with the big boys

Dana Holgorsen
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Dana Holgorsen is a home run hire for Houston.

The Houston Cougars are making a big splash, hiring West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen to take over the football program.

Holgorsen, who spent eight years with the Mountaineers, is one of the best offensive minds in college football. He is a high profile hire that should get Houston back to the top of non-power 5 programs.

At first blush, it would appear to be a step down from a high-profile Big 12 program. But with the facilities, recruiting ground and vision at UH, the program is at worst a lateral move. UH is a top three Group of Five program (Boise and UCF being the others) and the program has a good national reputation. Holgorsen still has a home in Houston, should be able to recruit at a high level and win a lot of games. The question is would you rather be at a top 3 Group of Five or a top 40 Power Five? The path to New Year's Six games and possibly even the playoffs may indeed be the former.

Despite really awful takes like this one, the move once again proves that UH has high aspirations. They gave Major Applewhite two years, but the school never looked like the dominant group we saw under Tom Herman and Kevin Sumlin. Applewhite could be a good coach at a lower level, but the UH job was over his head. There was no indication of a big leap in Year 3.

Kudos to Tilman Fertitta, Chris Pezman and Renu Khator for recognizing that and correcting a mistake. Holgorsen should have instant success. Applewhite's failure - like a lot of coaches - was an inability to hire the right people, and he was not good enough to run an offense on his own in addition to being the head coach. Holgorsen can run an offense on his own. If he can get the right defensive coordinator, he has a chance to be an instant success.

He immediately becomes the best coach in the American Conference, and his offense will be good enough to play with anyone on the schedule. Winning at West Virginia is not easy considering the competition in the Big 12. He won't have to regularly compete with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and company. It's hard to see losses to SMU and Temple under Holgorsen.

Holgorsen's deal will be for reportedly $4 million a year for five years. His buyout at West Virginia is just $1 million. He will be the highest paid coach in the Group of Five, another indication just how serious Houston is about competing at a high level. Since Fertitta has become involved, the program has had high aspirations. Fertitta has deep pockets and the kind of personality that gets attention. It's doubtful the school could lure a coach like Holgorsen without him.

This is without a doubt a high profile, big time hire and a home run move. With Holgorsen heading up the football program and Kelvin Sampson's success in basketball, the Cougars are on the right track, and the Holgorsen hire takes them to a new level. Could it backfire? Maybe. Holgorsen won roughly 60 percent of his games at West Virginia. But in an easier conference with a fertile recruiting ground, it would be surprising if he did not succeed.

There are no negatives to this move. Cougar fans should be excited.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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