The Mountaineers never reached the same heights under Stewart, though. When first-year Athletic Director Oliver Luck made the pending coaching change in December, he said he didn't believe Stewart could win a national title and sliding season ticket sales and a tame product on the field were discouraging.
Stewart's first team was ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll in 2008 and was unranked after three games. Stewart's Mountaineers were never ranked as high again.
Stewart's teams were ranked only 15 more weeks and never better than No. 18. WVU was ranked 46 consecutive weeks from Oct. 9, 2005 to Oct. 28, 2008, the poll following Stewart's third game.
This past season, WVU wasn't ranked in the final Associated Press poll for the first time since 2004.
Stewart's program was also accused of major NCAA violations by the NCAA last August. The case is still not resolved, but the most notable charge against Stewart was his failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Only four days after announcing the NCAA's allegations, WVU was forced to self-report a secondary violation for allowing players to wear prohibited protective equipment during the first two days of preseason practice.
WVU finished the season 9-4 for the third straight year. In consecutive weeks, the Mountaineers lost to Syracuse for the first time since 2001 and for the first time in program history to Connecticut.
Stewart was told he was to be replaced four days after the team's victory in the following game against Cincinnati. Luck allowed for the possibility Stewart could be retained for just the 2011 season, and that was granted when Stewart then won three more games to end the regular season.
Stewart and Luck met with Holgorsen days after the end of the regular season. Stewart was told by Luck to inform then-offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and then-offensive line coach Dave Johnson they'd be fired after the bowl and replaced by Holgorsen's picks. Stewart never did.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.