Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wild and Wonderful

What the fuck is going on at West Virginia? Back in December, Oliver Luck (yes, of those Lucks) lured Dana Holgorsen away from OK State to become OC and head coach-in-waiting for the Mountaineers. Many saw it as the AD slowly shooing Bill Stewart towards the door and trying to trade up and build a better program. Under Stewart's tenure, the 'Neers have slipped, going from an outside title shot under RichRod in '07, to never breaking the top-20 the last three seasons. Stewart already had some baggage when he the interim tag was snipped off of him after the '08 bowl win over OU, and there are hints of impropriety lingering from the RichRod era as well. Combined, this was a pink slip waiting to happen, and with Holgorsen, Luck could avoid a costly coaching search and the players could already have a season with the new system under their belts.

While it was obvious what was going on, things were fairly quiet in Morgantown...until the new OC hit town and decided to let loose. In May, reports hit that Holgorsen's style of partying was a little too much for the Mardi Gras Casino to handle, and the new OC was tossed out. Most people looked at this as an unfortunate - and hilarious - incident, and Holgorsen was appropriately contrite, satisfying most critics. Except one.

Apparently, Bill Stewart saw this as a way to hang on to his job. If Holgorsen is made too look like a drunken jack-ass who can't handle the job properly, then maybe WVU would have to keep Ol' Whittlin' Bill around. Enter the news reports from last week. A report came out linking Holgorsen to at least six  more incidents; alcohol related shenanigans resulting in ejection from all sorts of hot spots: bars, casinos, tracks, gold courses. After this, a lot of folks around the program and across the fan base became uneasy about DH as new OC and Oliver Luck even came under fire as AD. And who looked like a saint? Why, the quiet choir boy himself, Bill Stewart.

See, Holgorsen has a bit of a rep. Here's what Chuck Landon had to say, "Maybe now we know why the University of Pittsburgh passed on Dana Holgorsen. West Virginia University's new football offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting came to the state with a reputation of being a partier." And Doc Sat sums him up as a coach "with more than a little bit of the Captain in him: Holgorsen is a bachelor as he nears age 40, spent his entire year in Stillwater living out of a hotel and openly pounds Red Bull on the sideline."

But after a few days of fun, many began questioning where the stories came from. Who was the source? Who would leak that info, so damning to the program? Well, according to Landon, it was Bill Stewart. And he didn't start in May, he started in December. So, almost as soon as Holgorsen was brought in, Stewart began trying to undermine him. With this newest piece of the puzzle in place, scrutiny was moved off of Luck and DH and placed squarely on Stewart. His contract has been frozen and Luck is doing an internal investigation into the entire hot mess before anything goes any further. Which means we might see Stewart out in a few days' time and Holgorsen as head man next season.

Which leads me to some thoughts/concerns/questions. One, if Stewart has been undermining DH since December, then I wouldn't want him around anymore. But, is DH really the man for the HC job? Can he handle the more high profile job? It's one thing more a maverick Mumme/Leach schooled OC to have a wild streak, but it's another thing all together for him to be the big chief. I do think Luck has done an admirable job as AD, and hopefully the heat on him will cool off. But the heat under DH's seat will already be turned up before he even coaches a down. In the end, at least Mountaineer Field will be selling beer  starting this fall, so, no matter what happens, folks can get their buzz on. Not so fast, Dana, you have a job to do...we're just not sure which job that will be exactly.

On a side note, all this talk about West Virgina has reminded me. Watch this documentary: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (it's available on instant streaming at Netflix). It is a must see.