Dana Holgorsen: Will he have to wait a year?
Everyone around me seems to think Dana Holgorsen will be West Virginia’s head coach — next season. That’s contrary to the public plan announced by West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, which states that Holgorsen will coordinate the Mountaineer offense in 2011, then replace Bill Stewart as head coach for the 2012 season.
I don’t claim to know, but I certainly think Luck’s plan is viable. I don’t know why it couldn’t play out the way it’s been proposed. And while I agree that coach-in-waiting plans have been proven to be poor policy, THIS coach-in-waiting plan makes more sense than most.
This one has a finish line.
The coach-in-waiting plans that seem to go up in smoke don’t have a departure date for the original head coach. Will Muschamp at Texas, Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, James Franklin at Maryland, Kevin O’Neill at Arizona, even Sean Sutton at OSU, none ended well. Primarily because the plan was indefinite in length.
At West Virginia, the steps are clear. Stewart is the head coach in 2011, his 2010 offensive staff — at least coordinator Jeff Mullen and line coach Dave Johnson — is out, Holgorsen runs the 2011 offense and becomes head coach in 2012, with Stewart moving on to an administrative role.
Luck said he’s making these changes because he doesn’t believe Stewart can lead West Virginia to a national championship. I’m president of the Bill Stewart Fan Club (at least the out-of-state chapter), having fallen for his charms during the Fiesta Bowl three years ago. But I can’t argue with Luck. I think West Virginia is a place you can win the national title, but I don’t see the Mountaineers winning one with Stewart coaching. Too nice a guy.
But I also think Luck is making these changes, in this way, because he wants to honor Stewart, a long-time West Virginian who is revered in the state, for his decency and his Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma when the Mountaineers were wounded with the departure of coaching icon Rich Rodriguez.
Luck doesn’t want to kick Stewart to the curb. He has offered him a parachute departure, and Stewart apparently has accepted it.
Despite Stewart’s denials earlier in the week that he knew nothing of this plan, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that: 1. Luck and Stewart met Holgorsen in Houston on Dec. 9; 2. Holgorsen toured WVU and Morgantown, W.Va., on Dec. 2; 3. Holgorsen met with defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and has agreed to keep the West Virginia defensive staff mostly intact; 4. And Luck as far back as Nov. 14 informed Stewart that 2011 would be his final season.
In fact, Stewart comes out looking worse than Luck in this. The Post-Gazette reported that Luck told Stewart that Mullen and Johnson would not be retained and offered to tell the assistants himself. Instead, Stewart said he would do it. But did not.
It’s one big mess, but mostly because of Stewart, who has been not truthful with the media or straightforward with his staff, according to the Post-Gazette.
If Stewart was not going to take advantage of the parachute, if he was going to stand on pride and not go along with the plan, why would he play it coy? Why would he keep information from assistants on the chopping block? Why would he swallow the indignity of flying to Houston to meet his successor?
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