Just like our new President-elect, we’re going to focus on the “hope” part.
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.
You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
So who is going to help us find our way forward? Glad you asked. Here are my top candidates for the (proposed) coaching position at West Virginia University:
Brady Hoke — HC, Ball State
Hoke has resurrected a Ball State program that was a laughing stock of college football for an entire decade. With a 12-0 campaign in 2008, he would bring instant credibility to the position. He has mentored quarterback phenom Nate Davis into one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL Draft (as a junior).
Before serving as Ball State’s head coach, he was the associate head coach at — gasp! — Michigan, so he has some executive experience outside of this latest stop. He’s also a Ball State alum, meaning there isn’t a chance he would jump to his alma mater once at WVU. Has been mentioned as a candidate at Washington State, Michigan, Tennessee, and Clemson, but has yet to get the call to the big-time (not that Washington State is big-time).
Hoke’s offensive prowess and success with QB Davis would likely keep recruits coming to Morgantown. With the likes of Smith, Heastie, and Long, Hoke would have a good cupboard of talent waiting for him. And, considering his tenure at Ball State, I feel confident he’d know how to use it.
Turner Gill — HC, Buffalo
Among rebuilding jobs, Gill’s effort at Buffalo is probably on second to Hoke’s at Ball State, yet Gill is a few years behind Hoke. Gill has taken Buffalo to the MAC Championship Game in just his third season, compiling a 7-5 record at a school known for double digit losses, not bowl games.
Like Hoke, Gill would lend instant credibility, both with his coaching abilities and his race. With the BCA protests and WVU’s own poor hiring record, Gill would allow West Virginia a new angle with recruits across the country. While I would never advocate hiring Gill based solely on race, his coaching record seems to make his race simply a bonus.
Gill, famously, is a Nebraska graduate and Texas native. He may be an attractive hire for a team in the Big 12 someday, but that should be seen as a secondary concern. If he can win here enough to attract interest from a major Big 12 team, that’s a risk I am willing to take.
Butch Jones — HC, Central Michigan
Jones’s name was bandied about quite a bit during the 2007 coaching search, with even a report surfacing that he had been offered the job. At the time, Jones looked like a tough hire, considering his close ties to Rich Rodriguez. Now, one year removed from the Rodriguez soap opera, Jones looks like a much more viable candidate. He even had another good year at Central Michigan, adding further to his resume.
Jones is a Ferris State graduate, so like Hoke, his alma mater shouldn’t play any part in a decision to leave.
Are any of these coaches the sure-fire savior of Mountaineer football? No, of course not. But each are established head coaches with resumes of winning and credibility in recruiting. All three would provide a ceiling for winning at WVU that Stewart simply can’t provide. And each probably know how to work a headset, something our current coach can’t quite master.