23 May 2012
There’s no easy way to talk about the untimely passing of former Mountaineer head football coach Bill Stewart. The man poured his heart and soul into his job, his players and his family.
And while his eventual departure as head coach at West Virginia was clearly a less-than perfect situation, he did spend several months working with his successor Dana Holgorsen who expressed his condolences Monday night on the MetroNews Statewide Sportsline.
“My immediate reaction was just about the family that was left behind,” Holgorsen said. “One thing that Coach Stew always preached from the day that I met him was to make sure that everyone puts family first. It’s something that he did in his life and something that he did around the football department as well.”
Holgorsen and Stewart, of course, worked together during spring practice in 2011 where Stewart was still the head coach and Holgorsen the coach in waiting.
“It was fine, we all understand the situation,” Holgorsen said. “It wasn’t the perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination, but we got along fine and communicated well, which was good. His biggest thing was how much West Virginia meant to him. He’s a West Virginia guy and took the program when it was in a bad time.”
And perhaps that initial time period in 2007-2008 is what most will remember of Coach Stewart when looking back. It was the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma where he made a name for himself among Mountaineer faithful and ultimately earned the job of head coach.
“I remember watching the Fiesta Bowl just like everybody else did,” Holgorsen said. “What a great time that was for him to step up and do his state right and do his football program right. It just laid the groundwork for what we were able to accomplish last year and we’re all very proud of that.”
Holgorsen, meanwhile, met with the team on Monday afternoon to talk about Stewart’s passing.
“They were just kind of shocked,” Holgorsen said. “They remembered a lot of the times (with Coach Stewart) and why they came here, which was to be around a father figure like him to be able to talk to everyday. A lot of the things the guys remembered was Coach Stew getting downstairs in the weight room and talking with the guys, being upbeat and energetic. He was the same guy everyday."
And it was that energy and enthusiasm that Stewart took to work with him all the time, not only as a coach, but as a family man as well.
“What Coach Stew would have wanted is for everyone to get back to work and try to win a championship next year, so that’s what we’re going to try and accomplish,” Holgorsen said.
(Article by sports staff at WV MetroNews.com)
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