Posted on: June 10, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 5:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After yesterday's report that West Virginia was in the process of buying out the remainder of head coach Bill Stewart's contract, it was only a matter of time before his departure from Morgantown became official. It appears that time is now.
With rumors swirling left and right that Stewart would out of his job by the end of the day, the Charleston Gazette has now reported that Stewart's resignation is "imminent." Many online outlets believe Oliver Luck and the WVU administration will make Stewart's dismissal official with an announcement this afternoon.
The Sporting News is reporting that Stewart has been fired for "conduct detrimental to the university," though the official announcement may not share that phrasing.
Dana Holgorsen is expected to take over as the Mountaineer head coach, effective immediately. The move will bring to an end what appeared to be a behind-the-scenes struggle between offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting Holgorsen and Stewart, who asked reporters to smear Holgorsen (and may have helped one columnist do exactly that) after Luck announced, in naming Holgorsen Stewart's replacement, that he "didn't believe" Stewart could win a BCS championship.
Per the Charleston Daily Mail, the promotion will push Holgorsen to his full contract-mandated head coaching salary of $1.4 million per year, with $250,000 raises each year he remains the Mountaineer head coach.
Stewart leaves Morgantown with identical 9-4 records in all three seasons on his tenure, plus the 2007 Fiesta Bowl upset of Oklahoma as interim head coach that earned him the job on a permanent basis. But none of those seasons were good enough to win the Big East and a return to the BCS, much less challenge for a national title as predecessor Rich Rodriguez had come within one win of doing.
And in the end, those failures are what cost him the job; the acrimony with Holgorsen only sped the process up by a year.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:26 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Most of the headlines this week regarding West Virginia have been about its head coach-related goings rather than its comings, but even the apparent demise of Bill Stewart shouldn't totally overshadow two welcome transfer arrivals--one of which could thrive in Dana Holgorsen's spread schemes.
According to the Charleston Gazette, the Mountaineers welcomed two BCS-level transfers this week, each of whom will employ the NCAA's grad school exception (a la Jeremiah Masoli) and be eligible to play this season. One of them is former Wake Forest wide receiver Devon Brown, and the other is Notre Dame linebacker Steve Paskorz, and while neither is likely to make quite the waves Masoli did, both could prove to be important contributors.
Despite only checking in at 5'9" and 185 pounds, Brown caught more passes than any other receiver on the Demon Deacon roster the past two seasons. And as you might expect given his size and quickness, he also saw plenty of time at punt returner, kickoff returner, and even as a ball-carrier on reverses and similar plays.
He now goes to play for a coach in Holgorsen with plenty of experience in turning jitterbug slot receivers like Brown into useful weapons--it won't be a surprise at all if he sees plenty of time and makes a legitimate impact in his one season in Morgantown.
As for Paskorz, the Pennsylvania native played in 10 games a redshirt freshman but was mostly limited to special teams duty until a torn ACL kept him out for the duration of the 2010 season. Though it won't be easy climing all the way back from that injury, the graduation of three starting senior linebackers at WVU and Paskorz's experience could give him a shot at playing his way into the rotation. And even if he doesn't, he could still see the field on special teams.
On paper, neither player shapes up as the sort of transfer that will singlehandedly tilt the balanace of the Big East. But if the Mountaineers are serious about challenging for their first conference crown (and attendant BCS berth) since the Rich Rodriguez era, they'll need depth--and Brown and Paskorz will no doubt pay dividends on that front.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 8:04 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
How unsteady was West Virginia's one-year coach-in-waiting arrangement with Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen? It reportedly won't even make it through summer workouts.
According to Matt Hayes at the Sporting News, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck is currently negotiating a buyout to relieve Stewart of his head coaching duties, effective immediately. Holgorsen would replace Stewart as head coach, also immediately.
"The only holdup," Hayes writes, "is the buyout money." A deal could be reached as soon as tomorrow morning, he reports.
The decision comes only days after the revelations that Stewart asked a Pittsburgh-based reporter to "dig up dirt" on his designated replacement, that news coming on the heels of allegations that Stewart or his wife had leaked reports of Holgorsen's alcohol-related incidents to a Huntington (W.V.) paper; a university source said the paper's report contained "blatant inaccuracies."
After those developments, few believed the marriage between Stewart and Holgorsen would last long. Now, it looks as if it won't even last through the end of the week.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 3:44 pm
Posted on: June 7, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:42 am
By the Eye on College Football bloggers
To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun.
We're now down to the nitty-gritty: Nos. 20-11 below, 10-3 tomorrow, then No. 2 Thursday and our No. 1 unveiled Friday. Stay tuned.
20. OLIVER LUCK, athletic director, West Virginia. Luck's influence on college football is two-fold. The first (and most important) has been his effect as the athletic director of West Virginia. Recently, his role as the face of this athletic department has become much more challenging due to the ongoing Bill Stewart/Dana Holgorsen soap opera. In the next few weeks, Luck will have to clean up a he-said/she-said that could end up defining West Virginia football -- and the entire "coach-in-waiting" strategy -- significantly for the near future. If Luck decides that Stewart was trying to convince reporters to dig up dirt on Holgorsen after his hiring in December, he may be faced with the decision of promoting Holgorsen early or -- as some have suggested i- bringing in an entirely new head coach. Somehow, Luck will have to find a way to juggle all of this responsibility while instituting the first year of beer sales at West Virginia athletic events. Despite a negative reaction from many fans, Luck is convinced that the selling beer at the games is going to be the best way to discourage binge drinking before the games and at halftime. It is not entirely uncommon for schools to make this decision, but the logic is often difficult to explain to fans who disapprove of alcohol at college events entirely.
Oliver is also the father of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck shocked the professional ranks with his decision to return to Stanford for (at least) another season. His return shakes up the entire Pac-12 race, and with Terrelle Pryor's off-field issues has made him the frontrunner for next year's Heisman Trophy. The decision for a college player to come back almost always is a family one, and while the elder Luck has kept himself out of his son's affairs for the most part, his influence on Andrew's decision has no doubt changed the football landscape for next season. -- CP
19. THE NFL LOCKOUT, potential season-dissolver, NFL. Think the NFL lockout isn't hugely important to the college game? Watch what happens if/when college games are the only games in town. Watch what happens when all the "Monday morning quarterbacks" are still talking about Saturday instead of Sunday. The fact is that college football is uniquely positioned to siphon tens of millions of football fans from the NFL, even if it's just on a temporary basis. And unlike college basketball and the NBA, where the pro version is a vastly superior product to the amateur version (sorry, but it's true), college football can be every bit as enjoyable as the NFL.
Of course, the lockout situation is still fluid, and there's certainly a possibility that pro football will be "back" well before the college football season starts. And yet, the antitrust lawsuit filed by Tom Brady and friends has a hearing that's scheduled for September 12... four days after the NFL's regular season is supposed to start. The NFL is gearing up for a long work stoppage; college football teams should take full advantage. That means courting the newly disenfranchised fans and filling as many stadiums as possible with them, even if it means dropping ticket prices. That means openly promoting celebrating the fact that college football is never going anywhere, never relocating to another city 1,000 miles away, never locking players out and threatening to cancel a season, and never treating fans half as poorly as the NFL is treating its own right now. -- AJ
18. VONTAZE BURFICT, linebacker/eater of souls, Arizona State. Burfict has developed a bit of a reputation for being a cheap shot artist. It's not exactly an unfair label, as any search of his name on YouTube will provide the evidence of his work. Yet, having a linebacker on your defense that plays with a chip on his shoulder isn't exactly a bad thing, especially when that chip complements the heap of talent that comes with it. Through his first two seasons with the Sun Devils, Burfict has made 151 tackles, leading Arizona State with 90 last season.
Entering the season, Arizona State seems to be a trendy pick in a lot of preseason top-25 polls, and Burfict is one of the reasons why. (Our colleague Dennis Dodd named him the national Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.) While Arizona State's defense was middle of the Pac last season, the rush defense was third best in the conference, and an even better Burfict could make for even better numbers this season. If the Sun Devils are going to live up to the preseason and make some real noise in the Pac-12, the defense is going to have to do its part. And that defense will be led by Vontaze Burfict. -- TF
17. BUTCH DAVIS, head coach, North Carolina. When Davis arrived in Chapel Hill, his charge was to make North Carolina football relevant on a national level. In 2010 North Carolina football has had as many headlines as all the perennial powers--just for many of the wrong reasons. In a year that has been filled with NCAA-related scandal, the Tar Heels are preparing to finally wrap up an investigation on impermissible benefits and academic impropriety that began last summer with Marvin Austin and Greg Little. Throughout this entire process, Davis has remained steady and confident in his team and his job. One year later, Davis has dodged all of the attacks and still stands as the head coach in Chapel Hill.
But despite promises to right the culture of wrongdoing, Davis continues to catch criticism for his ignorance. Defensive lineman Quintin Coples is already a topic of interest after being spotted at a DC-based NFL Draft Party. Considering the "sign-out sheet" that was going to help keep tabs on players, Coples' misstep in judgement reflects poorly on Davis and the program leadership.
But unlike other head coaches in charge of troubled programs, there has been no hard evidence to show any kind of cover-up by Davis. When a player's eligibility has been put in question, the school has pulled the player from the active roster and relied on a "next man up" mentality until NCAA clearance. Not only have Davis and athletic director Dick Baddour been cooperative with the NCAA, but North Carolina won their first bowl game since 2001. With no hard evidence yet to surface, Butch Davis continues to avoid the pressures of investigation with ignorance and wins. As long as both factors continue, Davis will be on the sideline in Chapel Hill. -- CP
16. JIM DELANY, commissioner, Big Ten. The man who stands atop college football's most prosperous conference is back again, and he's got quite a production to unveil this year. The new-look Big Ten has a slew of changes, and all of them--from newcomer Nebraska to the newly named trophies and division names--have Delany's fingerprints all over them. As such, the success or failure of these changes are going to be laid directly at Delany's feet, for better or worse. We're banking on "better."
15. MACK BROWN, head coach, Texas. Since becoming the head coach in Austin in 1998, Brown's teams have gone 133-34, won a national title, and earned two Big 12 championships and six division championships. Brown has won the Bear Bryant Award, Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, and has been the Big 12 coach of the year twice. That's a lot of notches in the belt, but those accolades don't mean much in Austin right now, as a lot of Longhorns fans can't see past 5-7, Texas' record last season. It's hard to believe that a coach who has had as much success at Texas as Brown has could be considered on the hot seat, but if Brown doesn't turn things around this season, he will be.
Brown made the changes he felt were needed after 2010, firing Greg Davis and hiring Bryan Harsin, but he also lost the man who was supposed to replace Brown himself, Will Muschamp, to Florida. So in 2011 Brown will not only have to lead Texas back to its winning ways, but do so with two new coordinators. If he can, Texas will be back in the national title picture. If not, there may even be a job opening in Austin this winter--one that would have a seismic impact on the rest of the college football world. -- TF
14. RUSSELL WILSON, quarterback, free agent. Wilson is worth paying attention to, first and foremost, because he's a quality quarterback whose addition could single-handedly change the fortunes of whatever team he happens to join. But his situation is also worth watching because -- like some sort of sci-fi superhero experiment -- Wilson is the first and possibly last of his kind. Never before has a player of Wilson's impeccable on- and off-field credentials been available as a no-strings-attached, one-year free agent. And judging by the SEC's decision last week to eliminate single-season transfers like Wilson's and Jeremiah Masoli's, one may never be available again.
That alone makes Wilson one of the year's biggest stories. But the impact he makes on the field could be just as key. Wilson has already visited Auburn (reportedly) and is due to visit Wisconsin soon (reportedly). Given the ample (if unproven) offensive talent that would surround Wilson in either location, both teams would suddenly see their expectations rise another rung up the ladder and would become dramatically more dangerous threats to the favorites in their respective divisions. Wilson's free agent adventure might still come to nothing (returning to football from the minor leagues means giving back a huge portion of his Colorado Rockies signing bonus), but until it reaches its conclusion, we're going to be riveted all the same. -- JH
13. TRENT RICHARDSON, running back, Alabama. There's no polite way to say it, so we'll just say it: the state of Alabama has dominated the sport of college football for the past two years. Each of the last two Heisman Trophies are sitting in Cotton State trophy cases. They just happen to be a stone's throw away from each of the last two BCS championship trophies, also in those same cases. In 2009, Alabama gave us the sport's most complete, dominant defense in years. In 2010, Auburn gave us the sport's most dynamic, polarizing player in years. So what are they going to do for an encore?
Thanks to Trent Richardson, they might just make it three-for-three on both the BCS title and Heisman Trophy fronts. Even as Mark Ingram took home the famous stiff-armer in 2009, Richardson was bullying his way into the backfield (as a true freshman) all the same; he finished the season with 144 carries, many of them coming in critical situations in the season-saving comeback against Auburn and the national title tilt against Texas (where he topped the 100-yard mark). After a productive 2010, Richardson now has the starter's job to himself, one of the best offensive lines in the country opening holes for him, and a defense on the other side of the ball that could be the equals of 2009 (and should give Richardson ample opportunity to close out nationally-televised wins). Deja vu all over again, for both Alabama the team, and Alabama the state? Definitely possible ... and possibly even likely. -- JH
12. CHIP KELLY, head coach, Oregon. Chip Kelly hasn't been a head coach for long but he's already accomplished quite a bit. He's taken a program with only recent success and turned the Ducks into the Pac-12's flagship program after a couple of off-years from USC. With back-to-back BCS bowls under his belt and a high flying offense that he gets the lion's share of credit for, it's no wonder he was recognized by Fast Company and several other organizations for his creativity and genius on and off the football field.
2011 will put Kelly's coaching abilities to the test, though, as the Ducks look to finish what they couldn't last season. Oregon has to replace several starters along the offensive and defensive lines but returns starting quarterback Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James at running back. This will be the first year for the Pac-12 and Kelly would like nothing more than to have his name on the inaugural trophy. His reputation has taken a hit this offseason after allegations regarding payments to Will Lyles for his scouting service, and the head coach would like nothing more than to put those things behind them--with the same quickness with which Kelly attacks everything he does. -- BF
11. MARK EMMERT, president, NCAA. Since taking over less than a year ago as the NCAA's new president, Mark Emmert has barely had time to catch his breath. He walked right into a widening agent scandal at North Carolina, had to deal with the fallout from the severe sanctions at USC, and handled the controversial reinstatement cases involving Kentucky basketball's Enes Kanter and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Needless to say, Emmert has had a lot on his plate ... and that's not even getting to the mess at Ohio State.
Emmert has been criss-crossing the country lately, meeting with administrators, student-athletes and others to get a sense of what is going on in college athletics since he took over. He has a big year upcoming as he looks to finally make an imprint with a new NCAA legislative cycle. Emmert has constantly said the organization won't pay athletes under his watch but he has talked with the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and others about full cost of attendance scholarships, so that could be a significant push he makes this year. On top of that, he'll have to deal with an inquiry from the Department of Justice into why the organization doesn't run an FBS football playoff. With all that is on his plate, Emmert will continue to have a regular presence in the headlines. -- BF
The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31 and 30-21. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Auburn, Big 12, Big Ten, Bill Stewart, Bryan Harsin, Butch Davis, Cam Newton, CBSSports.com College Football 100, Chip Kelly, Colorado Rockies, Dana Holgorsen, Darron Thomas, Department of Justice, Dick Baddour, Enes Kanter, Florida, Greg Davis, Greg Little, Heisman Trophy, Jeremiah Masoli, Jim Delany, Jim Tressel, LaMichael James, Mack Brown, Mark Emmert, Mark Ingram, Marvin Austin, NBA, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL Draft, NFL lockout, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oliver Luck, Oregon, Pac-12, Quintin Coples, Russell Wilson, SEC, Stanford, Texas, Tom Brady, Trent Richardson, Vontaze Burfict, West Virginia, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin
Posted on: June 7, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 11:59 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The publicity mess at West Virginia accelerated this week when Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Collin Dunlap told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that head coach Bill Stewart asked local media to "dig up dirt" on coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen.
Athletic director Oliver Luck joined the morning show on that same station on Tuesday. Initially planning to discuss the recent approval of beer sales at athletic events, Luck ended up opening by offering a few comments on the Stewart/Holgorsen soap opera.
"It's difficult to know what's fact and what's not," Luck said in response to the various reports. "Before I make any comments I need to figure out what the facts are, it's as simple as that. I think that's the only fair way to go about this."
Much of this began with a string of reports on Holgorsen's off-field behavior. More than a handful of incidents regarding gambling and/or alcohol have been mentioned in recent weeks, causing the university to take action. After finding certain flaws in the reporting, the school has begun an investigation into possible leaks from the football program. Leaks which many believe will lead back to Stewart.
"The investigation that I undertook to look into a lot of these allegations left me with a high level of confidence that, as the university put it, there were a number of 'blatant inaccuracies' in these allegations and I did not find any substantiation."
"I've got a high level of confidence in Dana, and his persona and his discipline," Luck continued. "I, again, have 100 percent confidence that he'll do the right thing. But unfortunately, some of the reports and some of the allegations are 'blatantly inaccurate,' and beyond that I can't say very much."
Luck went on to admit that while the "coach-in-waiting" scenario seemed like a good idea at the time, he was not sure if he would repeat the process again. The purpose of bringing in Holgorsen would give the young coach an opportunity to teach his offense for a season before taking over the reigns as head coach. Now depending on what the university decides in their internal investigation, Luck may have some tough decision-making ahead.
Hearing the vote of confidence from Luck makes me think that Holgorsen will not find himself a victim of anything more than the bad publicity. If the internal investigation reveals that Stewart played any part in the "blatant inaccuracies," he will likely be fired or forced to resign. However, if Stewart denies Dunlap's recollection of the "dig up dirt" phone call then the university will have to figure out a way to rebuild some torched bridges. The plan was for 2011 to be Stewart's last season, which is making it awfully hard for West Virginia fans to take his side considering the current reports.
But as we saw in the beer sales debate, Luck will not be swayed by the fans' will. He has no worries about the Mountaineers in 2011 on the field, and if he thinks that Stewart and Holgorsen can co-exist for that one season then that may happen. But judging by mud that has already been slung, I find it hard to see the two co-existing for much longer.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 9:00 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The soap opera in Morgantown took another turn for the worst late Monday night/early Tuesday morning when a Pittsburgh-based sports writer told KDKA-FM that West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart suggested that the writer "dig up dirt" on future replacement Dana Holgorsen back in December.
Colin Dunlap, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was a guest on Chris Mueller's late night radio show on 93.7 The Fan (CBS Radio - Pittsburgh). As you will see from the excerpts below, Dunlap said that Stewart called him on December 18, three days after Holgorsen was hired by West Virginia as offensive coordinator and awarded the "coach-in-waiting" title.
(You can listen to the audio here, via KDKA-FM, Sports By Brooks)
“It was actually my birthday, December 18, it was the day he (Stewart) was going to the bowl game because I distinctly remember there was a coaches convention in Pittsburgh with high school coaches. He was (then) flying from Pittsburgh down to Orlando to the bowl game for pre-prep work..“
This is obviously one of the pieces that led to all the "Benedict Arnold" talk that began on Sunday night. For Stewart to reach out like that to a sports writer who primarily covers the Mountaineers' chief rival is dancing with the devil and walking her home. Unfortunately, we can only assume the reaction from this will either be a full denial from Stewart or some swift action from West Virginia.
The school began an internal investigation into leaks from within the football program after Chuck Landon's damning article of Holgorsen included what the university called "blatant inaccuracies." While this reported phone conversation did not lead to any successful "dirt," it does not look good for Stewart (or anyone connected with him) that he was trying to get bad press on Holgorsen as far back as December.
Buckle in folks, Morgantown: 26501 is just heating up. Keep checking in back here at the Eye on College Football for the response from Stewart and/or West Virginia.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 7:59 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Good evening, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck. I see times are a little rough in your football program today. What looked three months ago like a blueprint for a seamless transition into the future is now a seemingly untenable situation, one that splits your program and coaching staff in twain. That's not good to see, Mr. Luck. It harms your program, your school, your conference, and your sport.
Clearly, a fast and permanent situation is needed.
First things first: Bill Stewart must be fired. If either head coach Bill Stewart or his wife Karen Stewart are leaking damaging information to the press about head-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen, they're clearly not "team players." That goes doubly if the leaks are gross exaggerations or outright fabrications. West Virginia needs a team player atop its football program, and let's be honest, Stewart was never in favor of the coach-in-waiting approach to begin with. So since what you really wanted all along was for Bill Stewart to no longer be coaching your program by 2012, Mr. Stewart has seen fit to accelerate the process. You should act accordingly.
Second things second: Dana Holgorsen must be fired. Yes, this is harsh, but it is clear that Mr. Holgorsen cannot be trusted with full control of this football program right now. Even as the worst report of his exploits was exaggerated, he still made headlines for his conduct outside of work hours, and that cannot be ignored. No, that incident in and of itself is not a fireable offense, except for the fact that Stewart is already fired. That means WVU would be forced to hire a coach for one year, for the sole purpose of sticking around until Holgorsen acclimates himself with the culture surrounding West Virginia Mountaineers football. That was the arrangement under which he was hired, and it seems that he has failed to meet that goal thus far. You, Mr. Luck, do not have the luxury of patience on this issue any longer! Holgorsen must go.
Third things third: There is basically nobody you can hire. We have established that Holgorsen does not meet the standards previously set forth for a proper head coach of West Virginia, being of such little experience from a culture standpoint. That is an admirable approach to take, and more athletic departments should hold themselves to such high levels of principle in such important matters. However, this also places WVU in an unenviable position, because any other coach is even farther behind in the curve than Holgorsen. West Virginia football requires a West Virginia Man, and the Venn Diagram between viable football coaches and West Virginia Men is almost two adjacent circles.
Fourth things fourth: All hope is not lost. There is, however, one man you can hire, one man that most perfectly fits all necessary criteria. Allow us then, Mr. Luck, to make a most modest proposal.
And yes, I grant you that this particular arrangement did not end on a happy note for any parties involved. There was some, shall we say, hostility on both ends, and nobody wants to spend such time wallowing in the type of behavior that makes men monsters, do we? After all, Mr. Rodriguez has publicly acknowledged that he made a mistake in leaving West Virginia for Michigan, and certainly you, Mr. Luck, can acknowledge that the Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen hirings have been mistakes as well, no? And now, both parties are in a unique position to rectify all such mistakes. Bring things back to the "good old days." Why, Mr. Rodriguez was so generously compensated at Michigan that he would probably even be able to withstand the relative poverty of a Big East contract for a few years. Quite magnanimous, if you ask me.
So, Mr. Luck and the rest of West Virginia: when shall you be announcing the return of Mr. Rodriguez to Morgantown?