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Actions do speak louder than words

January 20, 2008
by dave poe
PARKERSBURG — He’s been disparagingly referred to as a transition coach, the painter who replaced the architect, and one national columnist even went so far to say he lacked the credentials to coach a Division II program.

Rather than reacting to his detractors, West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart is letting his actions speak much louder than the words of any journalist or disgruntled booster.

Just look at what has happened since the day Athletics Director Ed Pastilong asked Stewart if he could hold things together for the Fiesta Bowl.

Stewart took what staff was left and began game preparations. The game plan and the execution of that plan were brilliant. WVU stunned Oklahoma, 48-28, and Stewart quickly was elevated from interim coach to the real deal. He inherited a program that had just two assistant coaches willing to stay and one that was about to lose several recruits who previously had committed to WVU.

What did Stewart do? He made hiring a staff his first priority. While there still remains some slots to be filled — including the crucial offensive coordinator’s position — the results of his efforts not only are quite satisfying, dare we say WVU will enter 2008 with a stronger staff that it took into the 2007 season? That could well be the case.

The impact of luring John ‘Doc’ Holliday away from Florida can’t be underestimated. This was a huge hire. It gives WVU an experienced, proven recruiter whose reputation with high school coaches and their potential recruits is rock-solid. Plus, his connections in the talent-rich state of Florida are invaluable.

Already, Holliday is attracting some big names into considering WVU when the Mountaineers weren’t on their radar screen just weeks ago.

Plus, the defensive staff has three men — Jeff Casteel, Steve Dunlap and David Lockwood — who have served as successful Division 1 defensive coordinators.

In a short period of time — Stewart wasn’t hired until the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 3 —Stewart has assembled a group of men who have the talent, experience, knowledge and energy to continue the elite status of West Virginia University football.

With Holliday and most of the other staff members on board, the focus now has turned to recruiting. Just look at the list of recruits visiting Morgantown this weekend and you can’t help but be impressed.

WVU is doing everything it can to attract Parkersburg High School lineman Josh Jenkins. Stewart doesn’t want to lose the most sought-after Mountain State player in decades. And if he does lose him, he doesn’t want it to be because the Mountaineers didn’t work hard enough to secure his services.

Stewart is proving to be a great hire. Those who attended the Fiesta Bowl will tell you the media loved him. Not just the West Virginia media but the national media and dare we say, the Oklahoma media. He was candid, charming, witty and downright impressive.

Rather than listen to what others have to say, I’ve always found it best to observe someone for myself. And I haven’t found a thing about Bill Stewart I don’t like. He has no ego. He looks you in the eye and tells you what he thinks. His approach to each of the major aspects of his job has been first rate and first class.

Let others hurl insults at WVU and its new coach. I’ve read what they have had to say, but coach Stewart’s actions speak much louder than any of their words.

Contact Dave Poe at



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