The Smoking Musket Debates The Future of WVU Football

It's no small task to debate the future of a football program, but hungover this weekend and often unable to leave the couch, that's what 5th Year Senior and myself set out to do.  What started as angry text messages Friday night evolved into lots of back-and-forth e-mails Saturday, all beginning with one single question:

Charley West:

Is Stew the future?

5th Year Senior:

Will he be our coach in 20 years? No. Do I think we can win the same amount with him as we did under Fraud? Yes. Future is a touch word with an "older" coach these days.

I personally do not want to call for Stew's head while Pastilong is our AD. He would likely hand the job to Doc and I don't think he is the future either. What about Beatty or Lockwood?

Charley West:

Ick. Nothing against Beatty or Lockwood, but we should be a program above hiring more untested, lesser-known assistants.

Stew & Co. have done a fantastic job of recruiting during this "transition," which was certainly not guaranteed. It's not that I want to have Stew fired, either, it's just that I don't necessarily thing he's the long-term solution. So, what do we do? Well, your nightmare Holliday scenario certainly scares me. If we were able to score a Charlie Strong-level assistant, I think that would be perfect. But with Stew confident in his system, I don't see him even thinking about stepping aside.

5th Year Senior:

He said that he would step aside if he is not getting the job done and if we have a few more performances like last night it will that time real quick.

You talk about recruiting. Would we be able to keep the guys we have if we brought in somebody like Strong? This staff has been able to land talent we only dreamed of in years past. Strong and Doc worked together at Florida so it could be possible but highly unlikely.

Butch Jones has the Chipewas performing at a pretty high level too...

Charley West:

I think he would step aside if we went 2-10. I don't think he would step aside if we went 7-5. Stew is a stand-up guy, but everyone wants to keep their job, right? Especially a job as high profile and prestigious as this one.

And I love this staff's recruiting, but there's no one way to recruit. It's not like these guys have a monopoly on the ability to recruit to West Virginia. They've been very successful, but if you bring in the right guys, you can replicate this with a different staff.

As for Jones, I wouldn't be against him at all. He runs a high-powered offense, but how much of it is him coaching up Lefevour into a great QB and how much of it is the complete opposite? It was the Pat White argument we always heard about Rodriguez.

5th Year Senior:

I just hate even talking about replacing Stew at this point because our season is not a failure. We still control our own destiny for a BCS birth and could win out.

Anyway, I just hate how conservative he is at times. While Fraud was not the most aggressive coach of all time he was not afraid to go for it at certain places of the field. It does make me mad that pre-season he said from the 35 to the 25 would be 4 down territory and has not followed through with it.

Would you feel different this morning had Stew gone for it and not converted on 4th and 3, instead of punting?

Charley West:

No, I can respect good coaching moves that simply don't work. Not every play is going to work, but going for it on 4th and 3 from the opponent's 33 is a very easy call.

And sure, we could win out, but do you honestly expect us to? I certainly do not. Suddenly, games against both Cincinnati and Pitt seem like uphill climbs. I mean, both Cincinnati and Pitt destroyed USF, and they manhandled us. Not, not, not good.

Assume, for a moment, that we do lose those two games, but manage to win the others. We go 8-4 again, and with the bad bowl lineup this year, end up in St. Petersburg, or -- gasp -- Toronto. What happens this off-season?

5th Year Senior:

People would throw shit like monkey's in the cage at the zoo. 8-4 this year is not acceptable and would be a big disappointment. I do not think he should be fired after 8-4 this year but if he goes 8-4 in 2010, he should be fired.

I want him to succeed so badly because he is a great ambassador for the state and the program. If we did start to win, the national media would be in love with him because of his great down home personality. I just don't see us beating Cincy this year with out secondary. Pitt on the other hand, will always be a battle no matter the records of the teams.

What would take HCBS off the "hot-seat" for you? I would need a 10 win season.

Charley West:

It's not necessarily the win-loss record, it's how the wins and losses are happening. Wins aren't convincing other than the fact that they're wins.

On one hand, you have Huggins who wants to beat people by 1000. On the other, you have Stewart that is happy with beating people by one. In the end, fans gravitate towards the convincing wins, and even when things were going "well" this season, we haven't seen that. So, to answer your question, ten wins would certainly be OK in my book, but I want to see those ten wins be of high quality. I need to see a killer instinct from Stewart, and I'm not sure it's there. Because without it, I don't think ten wins is even a possibility.

Huggins is making it much tougher on Stew these days. The expectations are being raised just down the road, while they're apparently trying to be lowered at Mountaineer Field.

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