Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck has drawn fire for the way he’s staged this strange transition. WVU will 1) Play the Champs Sports Bowl next Tuesday with Stewart and a lame-duck offensive staff; 2) Play the 2011 season with Holgorsen running the offense and Stewart as a lame-duck coach; 3) Play the 2012 season with Holgorsen fully in charge.
Luck on Wednesday didn’t rehash the process but did say “that I expect from all of our coaches, led by coach Stewart, coach Holgorsen and coach (Jeff) Casteel (defensive coordinator), a lot of professionalism during this transition.
“I have mentioned, I studied the transition models of Wisconsin and Oregon, and I think those transitions went extraordinarily well and were reflected by great results on the field and great experiences for the student-athletes.”
Interesting. We always focus on the coach-in-waiting situations that didn’t work, but Oregon and Wisconsin are two that obviously did work.
In July 2005, Barry Alvarez, coach and athletic director at Wisconsin, announced he would retire from coaching at the end of that season, and Alvarez named Bret Bielema, newly hired as defensive coordinator, to replace him. Now Wisconsin is in the Rose Bowl.
In 2007, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti hired Chip Kelly as his offensive coordinator. In the days before Oregon’s 2008 Holiday Bowl victory over Oklahoma State, Bellotti — ascending to the Ducks’ athletic director job — named Kelly the eventual successor, and Bellotti indeed stepped down three months later. Now Oregon is in the Big Bowl.
Neither of those situations mirror what happened at West Virginia; both successors were hired by the coach, which most definitely is not the case in Morgantown.
But Luck said Wednesday he didn’t think that would matter. “Given that, in my mind, coach Stewart is a consummate professional, as is everyone else, I have no doubt that this will be a smooth transition and will benefit the student-athletes,” Luck said, “and at the end of the day that’s really why we’re in this business.”
Holgorsen said, “If I thought it was going to be a problem, I wouldn’t be here. I have a lot of respect for coach Stewart and for what he’s done. I know what kind of person he is. I have a lot of respect for Oliver, for what he’s accomplished and the kind of person that he is.
“At the end of the day, it’s about surrounding yourself with good people and hiring good people. If everyone’s on the same page, it gives you a chance to win football games. If I come to work on Jan. 1, and there’s people fighting each other, then you’re not going to win games. I think we’re all comfortable with each other at this point, and we know that if we’re all on the same page you have a chance to win. I’m not too concerned, and I’m excited about being around a bunch of good people.”
Holgorsen reiterated that his No. 1 priority is the Alamo Bowl, in which Holgorsen will coordinate the Oklahoma State offense against Arizona.
“Just like what you guys (the WVU football team) are about to do, my next step is to get on a plane and fly to San Antonio and try to finish what I started at Oklahoma State,” Holgorsen said. “Which is to get from 10 wins to 11 wins. I’ll spend the next week in San Antonio trying to make that happen.
“Come Jan. 1, I’m 100 percent in on trying to make this place just a little bit better. With that said, I’m aware of what the program has done in the last six years. When you get 60 wins in six years, that’s pretty doggone good. If I can, I want to make just a little difference offensively and work really well with Jeff Casteel, who I have a ton of respect for. He’s well known throughout the coaching circles for what he’s accomplished over the last 10 years. When you’re in the top 10 in defense, traditionally, that means you’re doing something well, and if you’re doing it consistently, you’re a good football coach. I’m really looking forward to working with him as well.”
Holgorsen conducted a long press conference, some of which can be read here: http://www.msnsportsnet.com/page.cfm?sport=football&story=17778
Among the highlights: Holgorsen told West Virginians he wants to play fast, he wants to play physical, he wants to run the ball and he wants to use the spread.