Blue and Glory: West Virginia and Life After Bill Stewart
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A short while back I wrote an article defending Bill Stewart's legacy. I said he was a miracle worker on one of Morgantown's darkest days. I said people were too bitter and short-sighted to see that Stewart kept the program successful while a true head coach found his way to Morgantown, that Stewart was indeed a Steward in the true sense of the word, standing guard over the throne until a king was named. Now, even with all that has transpired in "Mountain-Gate," I still stand by what I said.
This article won't be a retraction or even an apology for my previous defense of Bill Stewart. In fact, I don't even plan on indicting the man; no doubt there are plenty of people out there with stones to throw.
I think the focus should be on how this could be a renaissance for the program. This is new life, folks. We should be collectively counting our blessings that the coach-in-waiting scenario was never even given a chance, lest the coming year would have been far more disastrous than anyone could have imagined. It was a pipe dream to think that such a transition would have been anything short of pure turmoil.
The future is now and it is a beautiful thing.
Things will be moving fast in Morgantown. It has become pretty clear that Holgorsen isn't one to sit around and browse the TV guide. Dana Holgorsen has a zest for life, for pushing the envelope a tad (skydiving, anyone?). So be it. We can only hope that a portion of his restlessness trickles down to his guys on the field.
The days of cautiously throwing a two-yard screen on 4th-and-8 are over. The mistakes that Holgorsen will undoubtedly make in being bold and throwing the dice on certain plays will pale in comparison to the grand success of the gambles that do pay off. Risk and reward is arguably the most prevalent dynamic in the game and is a subject that I wish someone had schooled Stewart and Mullen on years ago.
Bill Stewart was never meant to be a head coach. It was clear then and it is painfully clear now. It's a shame that what good he did with his time at the controls in Morgantown will be almost completely forgotten in light of all that has happened. I truly wish there had been a swan song for Stewart, that the man could have left on a graceful note and not disgraced and labeled a pariah. Instead, Bill Stewart gets a requiem, a funeral song of his own design. Morgantown has hardly noticed the passing of his era. Mountain Momma is only looking forward.
Of course, Dana Holgorsen has his own doubters. No doubt there will be detractors dissecting every night out, every second spent outside of the team facilities. It wouldn't be the first time a lauded OC has stepped up to the head spot and sputtered (yes, we're looking at you Charlie Weis).
But there is something about Holgorsen, something people close to him describe as that elusive"it" factor. Rich Rod had it—say what you want—but the man commanded a certain gravity, a way of becoming the axis of everything around him. Holgorsen, from what little we've seen, might just possess the same quality.
So what does this all mean? All this talk about gravity, "it" and restlessness. What's the point?
There has never been such a build up of emotions in Morgantown leading into a season. This program's landscape has never changed so radically and so suddenly. College football has never seen such prevalent non-compliance and disregard of character. It seems as though the sport itself is on the cusp of a massive shift towards something stronger, something long awaited.
Morgantown, then, is a microcosm of this transformation. What Dana Holgorsen needs to understand—if he doesn't already—is that he is banner man of this college football renaissance.
What he does in Morgantown will carry weight far beyond the hilltops of the panhandle. The exodus of Bill Stewart is simply a prologue to the opus that Dana Holgorsen is about to write. It will be blank verse, no doubt.
Expect it to look messy, even illegible at times. But there will be brilliance, too, rife with risks and daring moves that more timid pens like Stewart would have never thought of. Critics take note: very soon there will be a lot to digest and rip apart.
Welcome to the Morgantown Renaissance.
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