Brian Bennett, in a thoughtful article on the Dana Holgorsen / Bill Stewart coaching change at WVU, has an interesting question. What if West Virginia wins big in 2011? That is, Holgorsen is supposed to learn the ropes as an assistant coach for a year under Bill Stewart, who then will enter into an early, and forced, retirement. But what happens if, say, WVU goes undefeated? Will the fans clamor for Stewart’s return?
Still, I think [WVU AD Oliver] Luck would have been better off just biting the bullet and forcing Stewart out now if he knew he wanted to go another direction. Let Holgorsen bring in his own staff, learn on the job as he needs to and get on with moving forward. How weird will it be, for example, if West Virginia goes 12-0 next year and still pushes Stewart aside? Or what if staff chemistry problems lead to a disappointing 2011, putting Holgorsen in a hole before he ever moves into the big office?
These are great questions, and Luck is opening himself to all kinds of second-guessing in either of those scenarios. This arrangement could also lead to an unfortunate scenario in which, if WVU encounters success next year (and particularly if it does so on the back of a high-powered offense), there might be more talk about the coaching-change subplot than there is about the team. That would be unfortunate.
Holgorsen is an exciting hire, and as Bennett points out, it’s going to be fun to see what he can do with the Mountaineers’ offense. But Bennett is also right that the decision to keep Stewart around for another year could end up being very, very awkward.