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It's time for Bill Stewart to go.

By Jude

When the decision was announced that Dana Holgorsen was hired as offensive coordinator of West Virginia Football and that he would replace Bill Stewart as head coach after one season, I, like many others, believed that such an awkward arrangement might actually be tenable because Bill Stewart was an honorable guy, and would do the right thing on behalf of the school and the team to MAKE it work.

I was wrong.

So was WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck, who set the plan in motion.

WVU has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the past few weeks, first from reports that Coach-in-waiting Holgorsen was asked to leave the Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes after a run-in with casino management, and while local police responded to the scene, no charges were filed and no arrests were made.

While he did nothing illegal or immoral (in my opinion, anyway), Holgorsen apologized for the incident and cited it as a learning experience that he was going to be held to a higher standard as Mountaineer head coach.

And so as we in Mountaineer Nation debated whether the incident in question was actually a serious allegation or just a slow-summer-season-story, a despicable hackjob authored by Chuck Landon in the Huntington Dispatch appeared with allegations of other alcohol-related incidents alleged by "an anonymous source." (The article in question is such a joke and has been so successfully refuted by WVU and the Charleston Daily Mail that it's not even worth linking to on this site. Find it on your own if you're interested.)

The article, filled with what WVU officials would cite as "blatant inaccuracies" (to the extent that it was alleged that Holgorsen was involved in an incident at a Huntington bar when Holgorsen was a visiting assistant coach with Houston, despite the incident occurring at a time when Holgorsen was verified to have been with the rest of his team on a charter plane back to Houston) was allegedly sourced by none other than Bill Stewart himself, according to multiple high-ranking sources providing information to the WVU blog SmokingMusket.com.

Subsequently, other rumors surfaced in the blogosphere (though without citation to any credible sources) that the leak may have come not from Stewart, but from his wife.

Around that same time, the Charleston Daily Mail published this bombshell verifying the suspicion of a leak within the program (potentially Stewart), reporting that Stewart's separation agreement was being put on hold while the University investigated the source of the blatantly false allegations leaked to the Herald Dispatch.

At this point, there was plenty of smoke, but the main fire was coming from anonymous sources to the SmokingMusket.com and WVU's sudden hesitation to finalize Stewart's separation agreement in light of these new allegations. (The Charleston Gazette certainly wasn't on board yet, with this "2% fact, 98% hooey" article that seemingly argues that all things unknown by Dave Hickman personally are inherently untrue.)

But the real bombshell was to follow a day later, with the admission by former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WVU beat reporter Colin Dunlap on 93.7 The Fan (a sports talk radio station in Pittsburgh) that Bill Stewart had actively sought to trash the reputation of Dana Holgorsen almost immediately after Holgorsen was hired by WVU. The following is a transcript of Dunlap's statement:

It was actually my birthday, December 18, it was the day he (Stewart) was going to the bowl game because I distinctly remember there was a coaches convention in Pittsburgh with high school coaches. He was (then) flying from Pittsburgh down to Orlando to the bowl game for pre-prep work..

… He (Stewart) tried to flame-throw the guy (Holgorsen) in December by calling me and at least one other reporter because the reporter and I discussed it. He said, ‘can you get the word ’scumbag’ tattooed on the front of the sports page?’

‘(Stewart said) you need to dig up this dirt. You need to get it out on this guy.’ And I said, ‘hey man, I’m not a part of some witch hunt.’

… If you want to go look at my cell phone records you can, I don’t need to hide from it. The conversation happened the day he (Stewart) was driving to the airport from the high school coaches convention in Pittsburgh. He was on his way to Orlando. Dave McMichael (West Virginia assistant coach) was in the car with him. The conversation happened.

(Hear the audio here, via KDKA-FM, Sports By Brooks.)

Gee, it almost looks like Stew's not too happy about this whole deal.

For their part, WVU and the Athletic Department are playing their cards close to the vest. Luck appeared on 93.7 The Fan as well later in the morning, stating mostly the same sentiments that were released through the school later in a statement:

There have been various reports, much speculation, and rumor around our football program and coaches. But I want to make it clear that I consider these to be personnel matters and while I take them very seriously, I am dealing with them internally and privately – and I will not discuss them publicly.

What I will say is that our athletic department coaches and staff are clear that their focus is on the program, the team and a successful season.

My expectations of all our coaches and staff have not wavered; that is to run a clean and honest program with the utmost integrity and professionalism. Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

(In his radio interview, Luck did allow that he "didn't know" if he would create the coach-in-waiting scenario again if given the chance.)

WVU Athletic Director has his work cut out for him these days.

So we know at this point that a well-respected journalist for a major American newspaper has revealed that as far back as December, Bill Stewart exhibited a deliberate intent to smear the reputation of his eventual successor as WVU coach, and indirectly (whether he meant to or not), the WVU football program as a whole.

In this article for bluegoldnews.com, Patrick Southern correctly asks the question no one can answer:


The decision to replace Bill Stewart was made before a coaching search was even instigated, so what good could Stewart possibly hope would come from smearing that successor? That WVU would suddenly come running back to him with open arms and flowers? "We're sorry, Baby! Take us back!"

Maybe it's for the same reason that Bill Stewart didn't notify his assistant coaches that he'd been replaced as head coach after the decision had been made, as originally reported by Dunlap in this article from the Post-Gazette. That article claimed that AD Oliver Luck gave Stewart the responsibility of informing offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and offensive line coach Dave Johnson that would not be retained at the end of last season. However, Stewart, for whatever reason, told neither.

That article reported that Johnson only became aware that he wasn't going to be retained after calling Luck. The article further states:

"In the interim, between the time Stewart first found out that Johnson was going to be let go, Johnson passed up two coaching opportunities that were extended to him --- one as a Division II head coach."

(By the way, that same article showed that Stewart lied to the Post-Gazette, denying meeting Holgorsen before admitting a day later that he'd actually accompanied Luck to Texas to confer with Holgorsen about the transition period.)

Maybe Bill Stewart isn't as nice a guy as his "Aww shucks, gee wilakers" persona would seem to imply. Maybe he made an active decision that he wasn't going to leave the building without burning it down first.

At the bare minimum, it's safe to say at this point that the character of Bill Stewart, which was his major selling point during the course of his tenure as WVU coach, isn't as great as we were led to believe.

And it was that character that made an otherwise unimaginable coach-in-waiting scenario seem plausible when it was first announced. Sure, MOST folks wouldn't respond well to being replaced and then sticking around another year while their replacement got the lay of the land, but this was BILL STEWART we were talking about.

A guy that loved the state, the program, the University to the extent that he'd do whatever it took to make sure that the program would remain in high regard.

A guy that wanted his players to match the integrity and beauty of the mountains of West Virginia.

But if this is the dysfunction that will exist during this "transition" year, it's only fair to the players who are giving a year of their lives and a year of their collegiate eligibility to see to it that this situation doesn't become even more of a train wreck than it already is.

At his introductory news conference after the Fiesta Bowl, Bill Stewart said, "This is my last job. I won't leave here. And they won't have to tell me when I'm not doing the job -- I will tell them."

Well, he was partly right. After actively attempting to smear the reputation of one of his assistant coaches and his successor, this probably WILL be his last job.

And given the drama he's created for no other apparent reason than to make himself look better by comparison, it sounds like it's time for someone to tell him he's through with that job.
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Poster Thread
Posted: 6/8/2011 4:09 pm  Updated: 6/8/2011 4:09 pm
Pitt Hater
Joined: 1/4/2008
From: Southwest VA ... via Pleasants County, USA
Posts: 1290
 Re: It's time for Bill Stewart to go.
Nice job peering through the smoke and paring down the issues. Well done, Jude.
Posted: 6/8/2011 4:18 pm  Updated: 6/8/2011 4:18 pm
Gettin' Schmitty
Joined: 6/7/2011
From: Originally, Lester WV, now, Richmond, "East" Virginia
Posts: 6508
 Re: It's time for Bill Stewart to go.
The things that we do know to be true about Stewart--the failure to advise his assistants that they were being terminated, denying he met with Holgerson when he had--and that we suspect to be true--the alleged attempts to smear Holgerson's reputation--show a pattern of a man who is not rational, maybe even depressed. He needs to go for a lot of reasons, but I see an "Outside the Lines" story coming out of this with Stewart being the primary subject. I'm sure the music will be cheesy and overly dramatic, with possible BS confessionals woven into the story.
Posted: 6/8/2011 4:22 pm  Updated: 6/8/2011 4:22 pm
Joined: 11/2/2007
From: Danville, KY
Posts: 10439
 Re: It's time for Bill Stewart to go.
Great points and I agree Bill Stewart's time is up at WVU. Time to move on.
Posted: 6/8/2011 10:41 pm  Updated: 6/8/2011 10:41 pm
Pitt Hater
Joined: 9/5/2010
From: Nashville via Elkins/Motown
Posts: 1555
 Re: It's time for Bill Stewart to go.
I've been trying to keep a sense of humor about this excruciating B.S. (pun intended).Albeit skeptical about his D1 chops,I genuinely felt he was a "good guy"and kept WV from at least falling off the cliff as many other programs have done following similar upheaval.Unfortunately,the more I read about this,the more I want to puke.


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