June 12, 2011

Will Stewart's departure derail West Virginia?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. There are two questions this week, one Saturday and one today.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Will Bill Stewart's exit have an adverse impact on West Virginia's chances to win the Big East this fall?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I think it will enhance West Virginia's Big East championship aspirations. Clearly, there was dissension on the coaching staff and that would have been counterproductive. The coach and offensive coordinator need to be on the same page and work together. Had West Virginia stayed with the status quo, it would have been a disaster waiting to happen. Now, the Mountaineers will have one guy in charge. Besides, West Virginia was unable to win an outright Big East championship in three seasons under Stewart, so perhaps they will fare better under new leadership.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
Stewart won't be missed one bit. He really had no strategic hand on either side of the ball. Dana Holgorsen already had begun installing his offense in the spring, and Holgorsen hired every staffer on that side of the ball. Coordinator Jeff Casteel, who is one of the most underrated assistants in the nation, handles the defensive side of the ball. The thing the Mountaineers may miss most is Stewart's fiery leadership, but Holgorsen also is a passionate coach who is better able to relate to the players than Stewart. I still expect West Virginia to win the Big East.

David Fox's answer:
Unless West Virginia has some serious locker-room division, Stewart's ouster shouldn't have too much impact on the Mountaineers' Big East title hopes. Connecticut lost to Michigan and Rutgers, had quarterback issues and still won the league a year ago. West Virginia is the league favorite in part because of its personnel, but also because other potential contenders - Pittsburgh, USF, Louisville and Connecticut - have more obvious flaws. What was the alternative for West Virginia? Let Stewart linger on the job and let the controversy fester into the season? That would have a far worse impact than going forward with the Dana Holgorsen era a year earlier than anticipated. This may be the better result even if the Stewart-Holgorsen transition happened as plan. Rather than spending a season in coaching limbo, West Virginia can just move on.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Stewart's departure will help, as there obviously were issues with the coaching "transition." Stewart was a nice guy but not a good coach; he was in over his head and never should've had the job in the first place. WVU now is Dana Holgorsen's program, and that's a good thing for the Mountaineers on the field this fall. They have the best overall talent in the league, and if QB Geno Smith adapts as quickly to Holgorsen's offense as I think he will, WVU will have an especially potent offense - one good enough to win the Big East.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Stewart's departure actually could help West Virginia's chances of winning the Big East. That isn't intended as an indictment of Stewart's coaching ability. It's more a commentary on the flawed succession plan West Virginia had utilized in the first place. West Virginia officials were asking for trouble when they hired Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator and also announced he would replace Stewart as coach after the 2011 season. Such a move couldn't help but create divided loyalties within the coaching staff and in the locker room. At least now all the players and assistants will know who's in charge from this point forward.




 

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