Who knew that the late seventies band Foreigner (still kickin', played West Virginia last Friday) would aptly describe the challenges faced by Thursday night's two opposing coaches.
Most everyone knows of the trials and tribulations of Colorado head man Dan Hawkins. His job has "sell" written all over it. At 14-26, working on his fourth losing season in as many years, coach Hawkins may be able to keep the wolves at bay with a win over WVU.
Good luck with that.
And, luck may arrive in the form of another pants-on-fire head coach, West Virginia's Bill Stewart.
On the surface, coach Stewart's position as the head guy looks stable and even growing as he and the state enjoy a 12-5 record during his tenure. However, when you dig deeper you find Hawk and Stew have the same issues.
Both are unconventional. Dan Hawkins is a relatively nice guy who skydives with his daughters and reads voraciously from his extensive library of actual books. Bill Stewart is an absolute nice guy who is optimistic to a fault, doesn't yell, and treats everyone as the lady or gentleman she or he is.
What's wrong with that?
Boosters tolerate unconventional...if you're winning. Here's where coach Stewart is way ahead of coach Hawkins. Or, is that way behind? Colorado fans see Hawk and his record and find everything that's wrong. West Virginia fans look at the goofiness of Stew and know—just know—it's going to blow up in their faces.
Boosters are ruminating over this: "We should have known more about this man when he was hired." Records like 14-26 will do this to the best of us, with coach Stewart, however, it's a long standing tradition in West Virginia to try to run the current head football coach out of town.
Cases in point:
a) In 1974, "For Sale" signs were planted in Bobby Bowden's yard.
b) Regularly in the decade of the '90s, after enjoying a successful '80s, an airplane toting a banner "Nehlen Must Go!" flew over the stadium during each home game, and
c) After a 3-8 record in 2001, boosters attempted to hang Rich Rodriguez with the morals clause of his contract. You of course know the state's vituperation and indignation when he finally took their advice.
Everything about the head coach is scrutinized. In my leisurely week's worth of Internet study of Colorado football, I have yet to find anything good written about Dan Hawkins. As well, sitting in the stadium at Mountaineer Field for the first two home games, I hear loud expletives after most every call, followed by shrapnel from exploding f-bombs. And, that's from otherwise nice people.
I can't speak for Buffs' fans, except you have a right to feel as you do after a 14-26 campaign with an 8-16 record in the Big 12.
I can say this about the Mountaineers' faithful: give Bill Stewart a chance. Let him work with his recruits—as talented as they are purported to be—and see what he does. You may be surprised.