What started as a ripple last night has turned into a full on waterfall by the close of business today. Rumored by Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last night and "confirmed" by unnamed sources to Mitch Vingle of the West Virginia Gazette this afternoon, all media outlets are now reporting that Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen will be hired as offensive coordinator for next season and to replace Bill Stewart as head coach in 2012.
While this won't be official until there's a statement from either Luck, Holgorsen, Stewart or Oklahoma State, it appears to be actually happening. Stewart was on Rivals Radio today and had nothing to say about the situation, though he said it in that homespun way we've come to know and love. Sam Wilkinson of The City of Morgantown had two great takes on the situation today, and I encourage you to go read both of them.
In the danger of rehashing things that have been said repeatedly, here are my thoughts on the situation:
1. I'm not buying that he "had it coming." I'm a big Bill Stewart fan and sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. Not only do I love the whole Bill Stewart "thing" with his hooky colloquialisms and the way he generally looks like he's always staring into a stiff wind, I also think he is a good football coach. West Virginia had the best recruiting classes in the school's history and no Mountaineer coach has won a higher percentage of his games than Ole' Stew. Instead, RichRod gets all the credit for those accomplishments because no one believes that Stewart brings anything to the table. Moreover, perception among fans is that the quality of the rest of the conference is so low, there are no good wins to be had. Since no one's writing home about a 5-2 conference record and a share of the Big East title, the only way Stew can make folks happy is by winning 'em all, which seems like a bit much to ask. Amazingly, Bill Stewart was one fumble, one interception and one punt return from doing just that, though to hear folks tell it, he was three plays away from a win-less season.
2. Is this really a sure thing? The only thing that bothers me more than how much Mountaineer fans hate Bill Stewart is how quickly they've fallen in love with Dana Holgorsen. I'll admit, it's an exciting notion, to roll back old Texas Tech highlights in your head while replacing Michael Crabtree with Tavon Austin, but do we really expect that to happen? I mean, seriously? Holgorsen currently presides over the nation's third highest scoring offense, and in light of the WVU offense's recent struggles, that's an enticing proposition. But how much of Holgorsen's success at Texas Tech had to do with Mike Leach? While Oklahoma State put up huge numbers this season, the only good teams it beat were Baylor and Texas A&M. Besides, the last time a budding offensive genius came to Morgantown, he went 3-9 in his first season, so Holgorsen is no guarantee this team improves.
3. Is this really a sure thing, part deux? By that I mean, I'll believe when I see it. Until there's a press conference at the Stadium with Stew, Ollie and Holg-y holding hands and smiling, I'm not totally convinced. I understand a lot of professional journalists are putting their reputations on the line by going with their unnamed sources, and I trust that they're accurately reporting what they're hearing. That said, who knows what will happen? Only Luck, Stewart and Holgorsen, and right now they're not talking. Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail acknowledged on that site's comment board that it's still a possibility that nothing will happen. I know I'm going to wait and see before I decide whether this is the right or wrong move.
4. Is this really the way to do it? West Virginia fans screamed bloody murder when one of their own left them for greener pastures. Yet, suddenly everybody's behind taking a guy who bleeds gold and blue and showing him the door in favor of the hottest prospect on the job market. Does something not add up there? After all the moaning about how "that's not how we do things in West Virginia," it now appears "that's exactly how we do things in West Virginia." For better or worse, West Virginians carry around with them "what it means to be a West Virginian." Protecting your own and treating people decently usually falls high on that list, yet are immediately disregarded at the idea of gaining 500 yards a game.
If Stewart's okay with all of this then I guess I am too, but right now all signs point to his being forced out and that seems like raw deal to me. I'll root as hard for the Mountaineers as I do now, regardless of who is at the helm. I'm just not sold on the idea that if West Virginia makes a change, it makes a huge difference.