WVU's Stewart 'good to go' in session with Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bill Stewart is trying to isolate his football team from the very obvious distraction as West Virginia prepares for the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28, but the Mountaineers' coach will be in a compromising position Wednesday.
Stewart will be with his boss, Athletic Director Oliver Luck, and the man Luck hired as Stewart's successor beginning in 2012, Dana Holgorsen, for an introductory press conference here.
Stewart said Tuesday that he's fine with the ceremony and isn't worried about any turbulence.
"I think you all want some answers," he said. "I'm all in. I think, let's get it out there in the open. I'm good to go. I can't wait."
WVU announced last week that Holgorsen signed a six-year contract to work as the offensive coordinator in 2011 and then take over the following season as head coach.
Stewart will be the head coach next season and is then scheduled to settle into an undetermined role in the athletic department.
After speaking through a university statement last week, Stewart conducted a previously planned pre-bowl press conference Tuesday and requested he be asked about the preparation for North Carolina State and the bowl next week in Orlando, Fla.
His players said they had been instructed to refrain from discussing the coaching situation.
Eventually, though, Stewart did discuss the situation he finds himself in after going 27-11 in three seasons after leading WVU to a Fiesta Bowl victory in January 2008 as interim head coach.
"I'm trying to keep everyone focused on the football game," he said. "All that's being talked about can wait until Jan. 1, when new things take place. That, to me, is the way to do it.
"If I got distracted, if we became sidetracked, I'm not doing my job as a football coach. I took an oath to do it to the best of my ability. Lo and behold, I'm doing it to the best of my ability. I think that's all anyone can ask me to do."
Stewart signed a modified contract Nov. 14 that mapped out a brief future as head coach. He was given the option of working one more year and then becoming a university employee or of not coming back at all.
The Mountaineers won the final four games of the regular season and Luck decided early this month Stewart would be allowed back for 2011 -- though with Holgorsen in place and in charge of the offense next season.
The defensive staff will stay intact, if those assistants choose to come back for the second year of their two-year contracts. Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and offensive line coach Dave Johnson have since been informed they will not return.
Mullen and Johnson spoke to the media Tuesday and tried to avoid talking too much about their situations. Both said they were grateful for the opportunity at WVU and committed to finishing their jobs.
"They're professional men," said Stewart, who did not tell Johnson of his fate before Johnson learned from a phone call to Luck. "It's tough. They've done a great job coaching here. I'm proud of what they've done and what they're doing now."
Plans have not been finalized for the rest of the offensive staff and Stewart said he was "taking my marching orders" as he moved forward.
"It is what it is," he said. "We'll prepare for the bowl as best as we can and after that we'll prepare for the future, which I see as very exciting.
"I'm very excited, and I mean that from my heart, for the 2011 season. But before I talk about 2011, I need to focus on 2010 and how we finish. That's all I told the team. How we finish is how we're going to be remembered."
Stewart, 58, said he would be the head coach for the 2011 season and was eager to get into the winter conditioning and the late recruiting rush in January. He wouldn't specify any plans beyond that as to whether he'd remain an administrator in the athletic department or pursue his coaching career elsewhere.
"After 2011, I don't have a crystal ball. Wherever the good Lord takes me," he said. "I've moved my bride many, many times, as you know. If you looked at my resume, you'd say, 'Whoa, boy, how'd he ever keep her around?' Coaching is a nomad business, so to speak, and every job I ever took I thought advanced me and was good for me.
"When my little guy, Blaine, came along, I had to change my priorities. My son (a sophomore at Morgantown High) right now is the most important thing in my life. Then comes Mountaineer football. After I know how 2011 turns out, I'll weigh the situation."
@tagline:Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.