Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last

Bill Stewart, above all other things, is a nice guy.

The million dollar question on a lot of folks' minds today is "what does Bill Stewart think."

Oliver Luck, West Virginia University's athletic director, has apparently inked Bill Stewart's replacement starting in 2012. Dana Holgerson has crafted top notch offensive units for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. He has agreed to be West Virginia's offensive coordinator next year and head coach in 2012. In an interesting twist, Holgerson turned down Pitt's offer to become head coach there immediately.

Stewart agreed to be head coach next year and presumably will afterwards move upstairs to a soft and lucrative job in the athletic department. Barring disaster, he will retire with the best winning percentage of any coach in West Virginia history, at leats two bowl wins and one conference championship under his belt. Pretty good for a guy with a losing record at Virginia Military Institute prior to his stint here.

It is possible that Stewart has grown weary of the abusiveness of a certain segment of the fan base who believed that their school should have looked a little harder at different options to replace Rodriguez. If he was part of this process, it would be good to hear that from him. If he was not part of the process, it shows a possibly necessary ruthlessness on the part of Luck. The team seemed to lose focus at times this year on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line had not progressed as fast as some had hoped. Skilled players fumbled balls without even being hit. Current offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen obviously will not be invited back. However Jeff Casteel, architect of one of college football's most punishing defenses, has agreed to stay on under the new regime.

Stewart's success at West Virginia includes more than wins. He has recruited top flight talent on both sides of the ball, which should give the new OC a lot of options next year. However, the perception is that West Virginia slipped from a top fifteen program to one once again hovering on the edges of the top twenty.

If the coaching staff can work together next year, this team has a chance at accomplishing some big things. Stewart can have a farewell tour and over time, memory of his coaching tenure will be that of a Beleinlike transition period. You liked the guy, he had some nice wins, but he probably was not going to get you to the top. Holgerson can take the next year as an understudy and learn how to build and manage a program. Some coordinators make that jump pretty well, others don't.

Hopefully this is yet another success authored by Oliver Luck.

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