Should Oliver Luck remove head coach Bill Stewart at the end of the 2010 football season?
On the surface that question appears to be a simple yes or no answer. As with most issues involving Stewart there are no simple answers.
Losing back-to-back games to Syracuse and Connecticut have placed Bill Stewart on the hottest of hot seats at West Virginia University. Its safe to say that Stewart is doing his part to increase global warming.
By their on field performance, the football team has taken the future of Stewart’s tenure out of Stewart’s hands. Athletic Director Oliver Luck is now in sole possession of Stewart’s future as head coach of the Mountaineer football team.
Perhaps a better question on the state of Stewart’s future would be to ask what of the future of the coaches on Stewart’s staff.
Stewart has been a staunch supporter of Jeff Mullen, the offensive coordinator at WVU. That support has brought the football program to the position it finds itself in. Mullen has not fielded a consistently productive offense since he was hired.
Further clouding the picture is offensive line coach Dave Johnson. By the performance of the offensive line in games, Johnson has failed to field a unit capable of performing their required task.
The proverbial writing is on the wall regarding Mullen and Johnson’s future within the framework of the WVU football program. Both should be looking for their next coaching positions at the end of this season.
This brings us to Chris Beatty and Lonnie Galloway.
Beatty is the recruiting coordinator for Stewart’s regime. It has been widely written that WVU has posted the highest ranked back-to-back recruiting classes in the history of the school over the last two recruiting seasons.
A degree of that success can be, and should be, attributed to John “Doc” Holliday. Holliday is now the head coach at Marshall University.
Still, Beatty was instrumental in the signing of the most recent class. Holliday accepted the Marshall Job in December of 2009, two months prior to the February signing of that recruiting class.
Beatty is also responsible for coaching the running backs for Stewart; those same running backs that have fumbled the football and the season away so far.
How much Beatty is involved in game planning for the offense is unknown outside of the Puskar Center. A degree of the offensive ineptitude at WVU must still land at Beatty’s door.
While injury has played its part in an ineffectual running game there are running backs on the roster that have not been able to step up and fill the vacancies created by those injuries.
Improved offensive line play could resolve the problems within the running game. Beatty’s recruiting is too important for the program to replace at this point.
Galloway is the receivers coach at WVU. Galloway is the coach responsible for the emergence of the young receivers that have been a bright spot within the Mountaineer offense.
The receiving corps at WVU has not been this well stocked in over a decade. Galloway is translating that talent to in game playmaking.
Galloway should remain as the receivers coach at WVU.
The bread and butter of the 2010 Mountaineer football team has been the play of the defense, the WVU defense is fourth in the country in points allowed.
To further punctuate the outstanding play the defense has demonstrated, “WVU is the only FBS team to not allow more than 21 points in a game this season“. Quote provided by Mike Casazza Charleston Daily Mail.
Jeff Casteel, the defensive coordinator at WVU, and his defensive staff have over 60 years of combined experience coaching the Mountaineer defense.
Of the four coaches on the defensive staff, two were born in West Virginia. They are Casteel and Assistant Head Coach (Safeties) Steve Dunlap a graduate of WVU.
David Lockwood the cornerbacks coach graduated from WVU in 1989. Bill Kirelawich, the defensive line coach has been a defensive coach full time at WVU since 1980.
The entire defensive staff has shown a commitment and dedication to the university. No part of the demonstrated commitment and dedication warrants their termination.
Bill Stewart, also a West Virginia native from New Martinsville, has placed Oliver Luck in a precarious position.
For Luck to replace Stewart as head coach, he could be sealing the fate of the entire staff. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace Stewart without replacing the entire coaching staff.
Stewart can no longer protect Mullen and Johnson, to do so would be coaching suicide. Further, Stewart would be doing a disservice to the remaining members of his coaching staff.
An educated guess is that Stewart remains for the 2011 football season, and replaces both Mullen and Johnson. The Mountaineer faithful can rest assured that Luck will be instrumental in the search and hiring of their replacements. Just do not expect Luck to do so publicly.
An old axiom states, “One bad apple spoils the entire bunch”. That is not always the case, as long as you remove the “bad apples” before they do their dirty work.