Bill Stewart Hired, Nuclear Fallout Results

Coach Bill Stewart has a little over a month until signing day, which is his first test as a head coach and recruiter. He then has approximately 8 months until the 2008 season opener, which is like a final exam compared to this first signing day. As much as I hate to say it, I just don’t know how he’s going to fare in those tests.

But, apparently, Stewart Mandel already knows. And the picture isn’t pretty.

Dismiss it as being overly pessimistic, but this is the what the national public is being spoon-fed. Whether we like it or not, this is what people will eventually hear enough that they feel they must accept it as gospel.

Here are Stewart Mandel’s thoughts:

NEW ORLEANS — I’ll get to Ohio State-LSU (the reason I’m here) in a second, but I have to take a moment to comment on West Virginia’s incredibly bizarre decision to promote interim coach Bill Stewart to head coach based solely on Wednesday night’s Fiesta Bowl rout of Oklahoma. It’s a fitting and, most likely, disastrous end to what had already been one of the most dim-witted coaching searches I’ve ever witnessed.

In the 17 days since Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan, the school’s “search committee” first settled on Florida assistant Doc Holliday, only to have state governor/de facto athletic director Joe Manchin nix it. Manchin then put in a call inquiring about childhood friend Nick Saban’s availability, then tried unsuccessfully to work out a deal to pry Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State. Then the school interviewed Central Michigan coach Butch Jones twice, left both him and Terry Bowden hanging in the wind, hired a search firm to help sort out the mess … then, somewhere around the fourth quarter Wednesday night, decided, “Heck … this guy right here seems pretty good.”

I must confess, I know very little about Stewart, who seems like a nice enough — and certainly enthusiastic — fellow. But the best coaching hires are made by professionals who remove emotion from the equation — and the short-sighted decision to hand over a nationally prominent program to a guy who went 8-25 as the head coach at VMI just because he kicked Oklahoma’s butt is the definition of a decision based purely on emotion. (That, or the fact that they got him for the incredibly low, low price of $800,000 a year, cheap even by Conference USA standards.)

Maybe Stewart will turn out to be the next Bill Belichick, but I’d guess he has a much better chance of becoming the next Bill Doba. Promoting an interim coach based on short-term success (Bobby Williams at Michigan State), or promoting an assistant just because he’s popular with the current players (Larry Coker at Miami), doesn’t usually work out in the long run. With Pat White and Noel Devine, it would be hard for any coach to screw up next year’s team, but two to three years down the road, the school will likely rue its hasty decision.

Meanwhile, university president Mike Garrison couldn’t resist taking one last parting shot at Rodriguez, the guy most responsible for the Mountaineers reaching the Fiesta Bowl in the first place, in announcing Stewart’s hiring. “We know we now have a coach who truly values the opportunity to work as the head football coach at West Virginia University,” said Garrison.

I’m sure that will provide great comfort in 2009 when the Mountaineers are fighting for a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Vent all you want, but until he proves otherwise, Bill Stewart, at least on a national scale, looks like a terrible hire. Note that I said “looks like.” He has almost zero head-coaching experience, very little reputation outside of West Virginia, and certainly, is not a sexy name for the media. He’s an unknown, and when there’s an unknown, everyone tastes blood in the water.

In the ESPN/24 hour news day and age, appearances are a lot, if not everything. For awhile, it’s going to be ugly. Until he proves otherwise, I suggest growing a thick skin and avoid turning on your television, radio, internet-receiving device, etc.

[Stewart Mandel, SI.com]

27 Responses

  1. Lloyd Carr, Larry Coker, and Phil Fulmer were all hired under very similar circumstances after being interim coaches.

    Each has a national chmapionship ring.

    We’ll see what happens. Best of luck to Coach Stew.

    Have some faith!!

  2. I hope stew brings us a chmapionship ring.

  3. CW there are a lot of research errors in your peice. I’ll let the others find them. I agree on several points but less in the choice of Stew and more the league of the choice.

    Nonetheless, I have something to say to the provider of MOST of the fallout… Ken Kendrick.
    I understand how he feels. As older alums, we have seen our program always get the best of the second best. The best that could be bought for less! The Admin always gets the new guy cheap with credentials. Just enough credentials that it can be said, “he is qualified” BUT never a “put the money where your mouth is” head coach. We’ve never said “we are now an elite school with the winningest record in 1A (without a National Championship) and NOW we are going to snake another elite schools coach for a million more than they’re paying him”… Or even just HIRE an experienced 1-A HEAD COACH for that matter.

    Not unlike myself, Kendrick is asking himself, “will I LIVE LONG ENOUGH to see my alma mater win a National Championship?” or even “be considered an elite power by the press for more than a year”?
    KEN, IF YOU ARE LIKE ME, AND MANY OTHER ALUMS WITH THESE SAME QUESTIONS..
    PLEASE!! DO SOMETHING WE CAN’T!!

    PONY UP A $7.5 BILLION ENDOWMENT LIKE MICHIGAN’S OR A $3.8 BILLION ENDOWMENT LIKE OKLAHOMA’S OR EVEN 1 FRICKIN $BILLION TO WVU WOULD DO!!
    IT WOULD BE ALOT MORE THAN THE $350 million endowment that we currently have EVEN with your $12 million from last year OR your $1 million from this year!

    PUT UP OR SHUT UP AND STOP EMBARRASSING YOUR SCHOOL IN OUR TIME OF GLORY!
    Now go pick on somebody with your own kinda money. You’re embarrassing us.
    Pathetic Rich Prick!
    And to think I liked you last year before you started running your egocentric trap… and you turned out to be just another power hungry rich guy trying to use your money as a podium and power play your own school for publicity.
    AND IF THATS NOT TRUE THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL EP, ADMIN AND THE TRUSTIES INSTEAD OF ESPN!!
    It’s real easy, Ken will give WVU $1Billion (with a B) Dollars, as long as WVU hires a 1A coach with a record of 600 or higher, OR give me right of refusal on hiring any coach! —–You know they’d do it. INSTEAD YOU GO CRYING TO ESPN!

    I hope Stewey wins every game and the National Championship next year! Just so you can admit you and the money you didn’t donate, to get you the right to bitch, was WRONG. You Freeekin SNAKE! Ur Diamondback.. whatever.

  4. I think Bob Melvin was a horrible hire.

  5. Charley who wrote that article out of New Orleans?

  6. I am going to reserve my final judgment until, after CW states, I see how this recruiting class shapes up and what kind of coaching staff he assembles. However, my initial feeling on this is it is a terrible, good ole boy hire made on emotion. The AD wanted someone thay can control and I think they got it. I really, really hope I am wrong about everything and would love nothing more than a Stew supporter to be able to tell me “I told you so”, but WVU is now a top program and should be able to do better than this….but, I love WVU and bleed old gold and blue, so he has my support no matter how much I do not like it.

  7. Charley who wrote that article out of New Orleans?

    That would be Stewart Mandel of SI.com.

  8. Give him more time before you start to bury him. With this type of thinking, Coach Stewart will not be deemed “successful” until he wins a Championship after the next two or three years, which implicitly means … that he won early with someone else’s players and program … and that view is completely unacceptable, inasmuch as this program was abandoned at some point late in 2007 (whether it was by the coach or the admin or both, it was abandoned) and Coach Stewart was there to pick up the pieces, which he manged to do in an exceptionally successful way. I support this hiring decision, whether you deem it to be emotional, myopic, cheap, or otherwise.

  9. I love the fact that national folks do not like the hire……the real question will be recruiting. I think that Stew was heavily involved in recruiting anyway…..so his ability to hold together the current class is better than others. If we had brought in a current 1-A coach…..other than Saban……that guy would NOT have been able to bring top quality recruits with him…..and we would probably have screwed up our chance at being very successful next year. Look at Louisville…..they were pre season top 10 and talking national championship…..they brought in a D 1-A coach who was highly respected…..and even with Brian Brohm etc….they stunk. Stew gives us a chance to be good next year…..and maybe he has learned a little something since 1996. Time will tell, but this is certainly the kind of hire, that is commencerate with our way of doing things in our State……work hard, produce excellent results, and we will reward you appropriately.

    This is my agent (right hand in the air)…….if I am a parent I want my kid to play for you.

    MM

  10. I think the WVU admin made a big mistake. Not necessarily hiring Bill Stewart, but by getting caught up in the moment and making a hasty decision. Coach Stewart should have definitely been considered, but they should have followed through on the search and exhausted all options. At this time if Coach Stew was the top choice then everyone will know the right decision was made. I hope Coach Stewart is wildly successful and I hope the administration does everything in their power to make him successful.

  11. I don’t know if it means anything, but I heard Mike Tomlin on the radio this morning give a glowing endorsement of Stewart, not only for the fact that he gave Tomlin his first job, but really seemed to believe that he’d be a good coach. So there’s that, for what its worth. Probably means more than Stewart Mandel’s blatherings from a practical sense, if not from a media-hype-sustaining sense.

  12. Anybody have access to the scout.com article “Jenkins Reacts to West Virginia Hire.” I’m curious as to what some of the new recruits are thinking.

  13. I sincerely believe that KK’s opinions have driven some of this negative fallout. His very public criticisms are damaging in the short term.

    I don’t think Stew is a long-term answer, but I think he’s the only choice in the short-term. I hope we use his tenure as an opportunity to groom a young OC to take over the team down the road.

    Stew is a great guy who will succeed, I believe. Hopefully, ESPN and the other major sports-media outlets find something else to beat on soon.

  14. It all comes down to recruits! A coach can coach his ass off but players play the game.

    For what it’s worth, a few recruits were quoted in the Demented Post, Morgantown’s rag, this morning that Stewart recruited them and they liked the choice.

    But I too wonder about recruits like Jenkins.

  15. We are definitely still in the running for Jenkins after the Stewart hire.

  16. Jenkins has gone on record as saying that if he hears from Stewart this week he is probably coming to WVU.

    I think the first thing Stewart and the Athletic Dept. must do, after calling Jenkins, is make offers “they can’t refuse” to all of the current assistant coaches and strength and conditioning coaches and then focus on recruiting. They should also consider hiring a “Recruiting Coordinator” whose only purpose is recruiting. I would offer McGee almost anything to stay in Morgantown. Make him the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, whatever. I had thought all along our “Vanilla” play calling was McGee, but after seeing the play calling in the Fiesta Bowl I now know that the “Vanilla” play calling was Richie Rich.

    Common lets not let this thing get out of hand. Make the moves today!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Did Rich Rodriguez ever have a game like this? The 2006 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia was certainly out of the blue, but the Mountaineers had a tremendous first quarter and had to hang on for deal life the rest of the way. West Virginia certainly had plenty of success in the two years since, but two losses to South Florida, a loss to Louisville, and the epic home loss to Pitt kept the program from going to the national championship. Against Oklahoma, with everything going against him, Bill Stewart did something that Rodriguez wasn’t able to do over the last few years in taking the team to another level. The Mountaineers’ wins came in games they were supposed to win over the last two seasons, but Stewart was able to not just pull off the stunner against Oklahoma, he was able to get everyone focused for a four quarter domination. While college coaching is about recruiting as much as it is about game management and preparation, Stewart showed for one night that it’s possible to go from being a complete unknown to a hot commodity with one big game.

    scout.com

  18. It all boils down to- – the quality of the assistants he is able to hire and to the quality of the players he is able to recruit!! The best coach in the world still needs good players to be the big dog on the block.

  19. The “NEW” WVU hiring of Bill Stewart is nothing but a joke! How does a special teams coach/interim coach win (1) game and be offered a head coaching position? Why hire a “head hunter” and pay thousands of dollars to hire within? If WVU loses the Fiesta with Bill Stewart coach then bring in another head coach, he wipes the entire staff out and Bill Stewart might end up coaching a NAIA school as an assistant, and WVU makes him a head coach???
    Your basic “Good Ole Boys” network working their tricks again, don’t forget, Bill Stewart and WVU AD Eddie Pastilong went to the the same High School……MAGNOLIA.

  20. […] Bill Stewart is the new head coach at West Virginia.  He was serving as the Interim Head Coach after Rich Rodriguez unceremoniously left town to […]

  21. MB says it all.

  22. Jenkins has gone on record as saying that if he hears from Stewart this week he is probably coming to WVU.

    I think the first thing Stewart and the Athletic Dept. must do, after calling Jenkins, is make offers “they can’t refuse” to all of the current assistant coaches and strength and conditioning coaches and then focus on recruiting. They should also consider hiring a “Recruiting Coordinator” whose only purpose is recruiting. I would offer McGee almost anything to stay in Morgantown. Make him the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, whatever. I had thought all along our “Vanilla” play calling was McGee, but after seeing the play calling in the Fiesta Bowl I now know that the “Vanilla” play calling was Richie Rich.

    Common lets not let this thing get out of hand. Make the moves today!!!!!!!!!!

    –You are right on Mountaineers4ever. This is exactly why we won the Fiesta Bowl. I wonder, statistically speaking, when CMcGee called a play down from the box in this bowl game how many plays we actually went with as opposed to what would typically happen with RR on the field. Also, I wonder how many plays HCBS actually called in the Fiesta Bowl or how many he just relayed to Pat White after CMcGee called them. How many times do you remember us throwing a pass straight down the field with RR coaching (p.white to t.gonzales). I know it has been reported that he’s gone, but the best thing we could have done is pay CMcGee as much as Michigan is and get the team to rally for him as they did for HCBS. I think he is RR’s key and RR wouldn’t be successful without him. Just watch though, in the next couple years, Calvin McGee might end up the head coach at another school.

  23. unfortunately, it does not appear that the ad is going to pony up any money for the assistant coaches. Magee and pretty much the rest of the offensive staff is leaving according to joe schad espn???
    Let me get this straight. a coach you are paying 2+ mil leaves (for probably more reasons other than pay to the assistant coaches but that was what was widely reported) and you replace him with a coach who you pay 800,000 that leaves 1.2 mil dollars. An ad and for that matter a university who wants to win and win big now and in 2 3 4 5 years would see that keeping this staff together would be really important and would give that extra money to help keep the assistant coaches.
    I like what I have seen thus far from Bill but I am afraid the AD has set him up to fail.
    I hope i am wrong.

  24. What a bunch of garbage…Stewart was at Arizona, William and Mary, North Carolina and coached two frickin’ years in the pros…you idiots! He was, and IS more qualified that richrod ever was…get a damned grip here! Stewart has been with the WVU program for seven years…coached quarterbacks, was offensive coordinator in the pros…KNOWS HIS SHIT!

    God you idiots piss me off…

  25. Everybody is a frickin’ “expert” right? BULLSHIT!
    Richrod was a small college coach at Glenville and he was an assistant at Clemson…yes, he was a student of the spread offense, and made it more extreme…and when White is hurt…the offense suffers…

    Bill Stewart has coached offensive line, defense, quarterbacks, ends…he has worked in some damned fine football programs and coached two years in the frickin’ pros…

    Give me a damned break here…you frickin’ loud mouthed idiots…

    Again…Bill Stewart is damned well qualified…and proved it…against all odds so shut the fuck up!

  26. Pffffff! Crow is on the WVU fanbase menu for the next few years, Charley not included.

  27. I fucked up………gimme a beer!

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