Big East Blog: WVU Coaching Fallout
WVU's Stewart
WVU's Stewart
Posted Jun 7, 2011

The head coach/head coach-in-waiting experiment at WVU has become a circus, with more than enough blame to spread around all the participants

By Matthew Peaslee

In the wee hours of January 3, 2008, Bill Stewart was handed the reigns of the West Virginia football program.

Flash forward to midnight June 7, 2011 and he may be giving them back. Or more accurately, having them yanked from his grasp.

Stewart was singled out by Pittsburgh, PA journalist, Colin Dunlap, with allegations that the WVU head man requested a smear campaign against Mountaineer offensive coordinator (and head coach-in-waiting) Dana Holgorsen. Dunlap alleged that in early December 2010, Stewart called him and at least one other WVU beat writers to "dig up dirt" on Holgorsen, while investigating incidents that could involve DUIs, various alcohol-related incidents and any other potentially damning causes.

"He (Stewart) said, ‘Can you get the word 'scumbag' tattooed on the front of the sports page?'" Dunlap told Chris Mueller of 93.7 FM The Fan.

This critical conversation comes after a week of swirling rumors involving WVU's coaching staff.

It began May 18 when multiple sources told Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail that authorities were summoned to the Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes, WVa around 3 AM to escort away a drunken and belligerent Holgorsen.

Chuck Landon of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch then wrote a particularly blistering piece that Holgorsen was no stranger to the party life. In that May 28 article, Landon offered up six occurrences in which Holgorsen was said to be disorderly and overly intoxicated.

No sources were directly cited and the WVU Athletic Department has since said the column was littered with "blatant inaccuracies."

Nonetheless, members of the WVU brass opened up an internal investigation to get to the bottom of the "leaks." It was soon suggested that the perpetrator of the tales was Stewart's wife, Karen, or Stewart himself.

Dunlap all but confirmed the latter Tuesday.

Stewart now finds himself squarely in the spotlight, and a hot one at that. Regardless of what you may have thought about the way Holgorsen was hired in the first place, if true, these recent developments have materially damaged Stewart's credibility.

Always said to be a good guy in a world of college football monsters, he now appears to be just as self-loathing and power hungry as the rest. And this wasn't the first time Dunlap has challenged Stewart's ethics.

Holgorsen, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck and Stewart met on December 9 in Tulsa, OK to discuss a movement in the coaching situation for the Mountaineers. Holgorsen and Luck admitted to Dunlap that the meeting had occurred; Stewart denied it.

From what obviously smelled like a fishy situation from the beginning, things have gone from bad to worse. Enough to make the Rich Rodriguez debacle look like a prom.

This head coach/head coach-in-waiting relationship was on rocky ground from the onset. An unparalleled decision by Luck to have Stewart in full power in 2011 with Holgorsen ready to take over the following year, after a forced Stewart resignation, in hindsight appeared bound to fail.

Luck didn't want to believe it at the time, but this past week has proven it - and the ensuing turmoil and soap opera has done more damage to the program than a simple, if painful, cut ever would have. For that, Luck must assume his share of the blame for the disaster this has become, in terms of both public perception and reality.

And now, the outlook from today until the start of the season is cloudy.

A heavy weight is placed on Luck's shoulders, who must decide what is best for the Mountaineers amid what has become a side show. Are the accusations leveled against Stewart enough cause to fire him on the spot, without having to fulfill his contract commitments (including his final year as head coach and a generous exit package)? It's possible Holgorsen may be shown the door too, due to the firestorm in which he was a central figure. And don't be surprised of Holgorsen simply jets of his own accord.

The most likely scenario has Stewart being asked to leave. Regardless, one thing is certain: one man, and one man only, should run a college football team.

Matthew Peaslee covers the Big East as a CFN Blogger. Reach him via email at or on Twitter @ pittpeaswv .