Oklahoma football: Good-bye to Bill Stewart
Bill Stewart died Monday at the age of 59. He died with the notoriety of having coached West Virginia football for three seasons plus one game. One memorable game.
Stewart was interim coach of the Mountaineers when they routed OU 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan.2, 2008. The next morning, before anyone had gotten out of Phoenix, West Virginia had elevated Stewart to permanent head coach.
It was a mistake, of course. A decision based on emotions. West Virginia had felt abandoned by coach Rich Rodriguez, who resigned to take the Michigan job and didn’t stick around for the bowl game. That Fiesta Bowl week, Stewart did nothing except charm people, talking about how great it was to be West Virginia’s coach, if only for one game. Then the Mountaineers — who were danged good; good enough to have won the national title, had quarterback Pat White not been injured against Pitt — spanked the Sooners.
Stewart was whimsical and charming. He was a delight to be around. Stewart reminded us that coaches don’t have to be distant. Don’t have to be detached. Sometimes they can let their humanity show.
Of course, Stewart later taught us that you can’t trust every package by its wrapping. Stewart later was done wrong by West Virginia, when Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck hired Oklahoma State’s Dana Holgorsen as WVU’s offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting. Holgorsen was a prime head coach candidate, and Luck saw Holgorsen as the answer to West Virginia shortages in touchdowns and ticket sales.
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