The Mountaineers are embarking on a great experiment in the coming years. When Bill Stewart was first hired, I'm sure that wasn't the idea, but experiment we shall. What is that experiment?
Take a huge power vacuum, insert a relatively unexperienced but very well liked guy, surround him with the absolute best assistants in the country, stir, and see what happens.
I am unaware of a situation quite like this one in recent college football history.
Usually, when an outwardly uninspiring hire is made, the school usually makes equally uninspiring hires on the assistant front. Basically, they just go cheap and give up. WVU, on the other hand, was sure they had found their man in Bill Stewart. Then, knowing that the hire would be greeted by a general, nationwide thud, they backed the Wells Fargo truck to the Puskar Center loading dock and started looking for some assistants.
Is there an assistant coach in the country that makes half of what the head coach makes? Only at WVU, where Doc Holliday, not even a coordinator, makes $400,000 to HCBS's $800,000. Look at the staggering change from last year:
Head coach (Rodriguez): $1.78 million All assistants: $1.36 million
Head coach (Stewart): $800K All assistants: $2.05 million
Like I said, staggering.
If this works, it could signal a change in thinking for many college programs. Instead of basing your program on one superstar coach -- who could leave for another job at the drop of a hat -- you find an experienced caretaker who is well liked and build around him. Find assistants who are good at their job and each have a great niche in recruiting.
Look at what Beatty is doing in Virginia; what Holliday is doing in Florida. These guys are absolutely killing it in recruiting. Plus we have a very good coordinator in Casteel and a promising upstart in Mullen. Not to mention guys like Johnson, Dunlap, and Galloway.
It may not have started as an ideal situation, but WVU's methodology seems rock-solid. 2008 should be a blast, if only to see all this play out. And, you know, win a national championship.