Mountaineer Football Transition: Head Coach in Waiting, a Failed Experiment?

Bob AllenCorrespondent IIJune 9, 2011

I must admit, I was a supporter of West Virginia’s head coach in waiting transition plan until recently. I felt that in some situations it might actually be effective. But with the events that have transpired over the past several days I have quickly learned that this transition model should in fact go away and die.

As a West Virginia fan I thought that WVU did in fact need a new head coach. The mediocre 2008-2010 football seasons were enough for most of us to want a new and exciting head coach.

But how do you bring in a new head coach and show the outgoing coach the door while all at the same time managing to give him the respect that he actually deserved?

Oliver Lucks plan was to find a head coach in waiting and allow that person to sit behind Stewart for a year, learn the program, install his new high powered offense and then take over in 2012. Well that looks great on paper, but what is left out of this plan is consideration of the personal feelings and possible actions of the coach that is getting the boot, and not because he wants to leave, but because he has to leave.

With all of the rumors and articles being written and spread around I think we can all agree that it would have been better to show Bill Stewart the door and say hey, we are sorry but it is time to go. Thank you for not running the program into the ground but we want to go in a different direction now. 

Regardless of what we think; what has happened has indeed happened and we cannot change that. Let’s Hope that Luck can get control of this situation, bring it to rest and get us pointed toward fall football again. If it involves letting Bill Stewart go then fine, let’s get this over with and move on. The sooner the better, otherwise, if this “Mountaineer Melodrama” drags out for much longer, we may all find ourselves watching a football team this September that is too distracted with other things instead of winning football games. We don’t need two jackasses arguing or not communicating at all on the sidelines, we need leadership.

Other notable recent HCIW transitions we can take note of are the following.

Will Muschamp and Mack Brown at the University of Texas. How can you be a HCIW if you never become the head coach? Well Florida will be able to tell Texas how he would have done.

Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Bowden at Florida State University, Bowden’s forced retirement even though he desired to come back for another season didn’t sit well with Bowden. Jimbo however appears to be doing fairly well thus far.

Joker Phillips and Rich Brooks at the University of Kentucky,  Phillips was tabbed to be the HCIW on 18 January 2008 and took over the program on 4 January 2010 when Brooks announce his retirement. In this situation it seems to have actually worked out halfway decent; which is impressive since the HCIW situation there lasted nearly two years. This scenario is one of the few that seems to have gone down without much drama at all.

I feel this transition was successful because Brooks had health issues that he knew would one day cause him to move on and since Phillips was a former player for UK and already serving as the offensive coordinator with a heavy back ground with Kentucky football that neither had any cause or reason to be upset and make any waves; Which is obviously not the case with our two West Virginia Coaches.