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Timing couldn’t be worse

December 17, 2010

MORGANTOWN - Leaks out of West Virginia University to certain writers were that Bill Stewart would be dismissed as head football coach after one more season, and all of that information has now been officially confirmed.

The bottom line is that Dana Holgorsen will succeed Stewart after serving one year as offensive coordinator. He has been at three different schools in as many years, most recently at Oklahoma State.

Whether intentionally or otherwise, the timing of such a shocking situation couldn't have been worse. It hit the WVU players during final exams and preparations for the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl clash with North Carolina State at Orlando, Fla.

It's as if the powers-that-be don't give a hoot whether the Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) win or lose with Stewart at the helm. This has even distracted, if not divided, the WVU fans.

The talk shows have been filled with pros and cons. How can the faithful truly enjoy this holiday season?

To a guy who has followed WVU sports for 65 years, it seems outrageous to fire a head football coach with a three-year 28-11 record. It simply doesn't make good sense. It's terrible treatment of a veteran head coach whose record ranks second, percentage-wise, in WVU football history.

Granted, West Virginia faces some alleged violations it still must settle with the NCAA. But in making these public, Athletic Director Oliver Luck said Stewart had the "full support" of the new boss, the whole athletic department, President Jim Clements and the university.

What happened to that support? And is this era of "head coach in waiting" really necessary? After all, WVU had 118 years of intercollegiate football without such a gimmick.

In January 2008, Bill Stewart put together one of the best - for the most part - and highest-paid coaching staffs in the school's history. And he settled for the lowest head-coaching salary in the Big East Conference.

Stewart is being paid $900,000 this year, and if he agrees to serve another year, he'll make $950,000 or so, the untimely "sources" leak noted.

Indeed, college athletics have become big, big business over the years. And I'm not so sure that's for the better.

I blame the presidents at perennial power football colleges such as Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, et al, for allowing coaching salaries to reach millions of dollars.

A friend recently suggested that it's time they start paying the players. Perhaps he's right.

Football, basketball, baseball and other sports don't seem to be as enjoyable anymore.

They've let the tail wag the dog.



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