EDITORIAL: WVU: The Sad Aftermath

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  WVU:  The Sad Aftermath

The culminating press conference with Oliver Luck and Dana Holgorsen is over, and things are quieting down a bit up in Morgantown.  But what a cost to the fans of WVU and its football program across the state.  Defenders of Oliver Luck will say that "hindsight is 20/20," but great leaders are possessed of foresight, at least to some degree.  Luck should have seen the inherent difficulties with his two-coach arrangement from the start.

So we finally got what we should have seen back in December of last year:  Dana Holgorsen being installed as the new Head Coach of the WVU football program.  To his credit--at what must have been a tremendously awkward press conference last Friday night--Holgorsen performed much better than his sponsor, the Athletic Director.  Holgorsen was modest and was complimentary of his predecessor, Bill Stewart, even after the revelations from the former reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who said that Stewart had encouraged him to go get "dirt" on Holgorsen.

Granted, Holgorsen was in a position to be generous last Friday:  he gained what Stewart had lost, the Head Coach position.  Still, at least at that press conference, Holgorsen showed poise, and that may be the one good thing Mountaineer fans can take from this whole sad affair.

"The truth is stranger than fiction" a famous writer once said. If you had told Mountaineer fans a few weeks or months ago that Bill Stewart, the ultimate nice guy and WVU loyalist, would find himself not only forced out of his position but also severed totally from WVU for life, no one would have believed you.  That's never happened before.  But WVU has never had Oliver Luck as its Athletic Director before.

We don't mean to suggest that Stewart made it easy on Luck, who probably conceived of the two-coach approach in part to let Stewart down easily. However, Luck was the one who insisted on conducting a formal investigation into Stewart's alleged remarks six months prior to the former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter. Incredibly, Luck not only announced Bill Stewart's forced retirement but then severed ties between WVU and Stewart totally. This, even after Luck conceded at Friday's press conference that he didn't find any evidence to back up Stewart's alleged remarks.

Stewart may well have made those remarks.  After all, we haven't heard him deny them.  However, if a WVU Athletic Director lets the world know that he is conducting a formal investigation into that alleged behavior but comes up with nothing to show for it, it begs the question:  why are you kicking Bill Stewart out of the WVU family altogether?  Maybe he's not the man to be Head Coach right now, but if Luck says his formal investigation produced no evidence of skulduggery on Stewart's part towards Holgorsen, then isn't this getting a bit overwrought?

Luck would have served his multiple constituencies at WVU and across West Virginia better if he had just taken responsibility and stated that he made a mistake in conceiving this disastrous two-coach scenario.  Then, upon finding no evidence to back up the former Pittsburgh reporter's claim, he might have at least offered another position to Stewart, rather than kicking him completely out of the family.

To many fans who remember fondly how Stewart cheered his team on to victory after Rich Rodriguez left, Luck's coldness towards Stewart may be bewildering.  As the West Virginia saying goes, "It's a short road that doesn't have a bend in it."  Luck may yet find out just what that means.



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