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Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through

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As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

OK, so Mountaineer football is effectively dead, right?

Well, maybe it's not that bad, but it's certainly on life support. Action needs to be taken now if we want to salvage the foundation of greatness that was in place a year ago. To some, these required actions might seem overly drastic. But to many, like myself, they appear to be our only option. So, what are those actions.

Step #1: Fire Bill Stewart.

It has to be done. Whatever buyout is to be paid to Stewart is worth the cost when considered against the further cost of this program's deterioration.

Ultimately, Jeff Mullen was Bill Stewart's mistake. And it was a collosal mistake. Stewart, effectively a first-time head coach (no, VMI doesn't count), hired a first-time coordinator will zero history of calling plays at any level. As if we couldn't see it coming, disaster resulted. Mullen's hiring was the exact opposite of what should have happened: hiring an experienced coordinator that could make up for any experience his head coach might lack. Instead, we got Mullen and offensive chaos. Even beyond Mullen, Stewart has shown a complete lack of competence in other facets of the game.

Try, for example, timeouts, which Stewart has shown to have no concept of their use. Mind-boggling clock management has squandered many chances this season. This was especially evident in the premature use of all three timeouts against Pitt. Saving the first tiemout until after second down would have allowed us not to waste them before a Pitt first down. This didn't happen, and we were forced to hurry down the field once back on offense.

Then, there's the team's failure on kickoff coverage, of which Stewart serves as his own coordinator. With one of the strongest-legged kickers in the country, we have continually failed to even adequately cover kickoffs, ranking dead-last at times this season. This is completely unacceptable. Our head coach, who is failing as a the head man of our program, is also failing at his very own specialty. Tell me another supposedly big-time program that would allow this to happen.

When he took over, Coach Stewart was honest and upfront with his expectations as head coach.

Our goals are to win the BIG EAST championship every year. We want to be the premier team in the league. We want to be a team of national stature, but we’re going to do it the right way with great student-athletes that buy into the plan. We want great husbands, great dads, great men of society and great men of faith. If all that ties into that winning, that means we’ve had a great program.
I’m going to be judged on the wins. I know that. What I do with these young men’s lives, I’m being judged by the master coach. And that’s where I lay down every night and sleep very well. If that ever changes than I need to get out of it. Winning is very important, it’s our life blood. Doing it the right way, all the time, and being an example.

Unfortunately, Bill, but even being judged well by the master coach doesn't win football games. In this job, you are being judged by wins and wins alone. While I obviously like having men of great character in my school and on my team, I also want to win. Winning allows us so many more opportunities than losing with men of character. Winning allows us the chance to recruit men of character that are also great athletes, rather than just one or the other. But we need to win, and you can't help us do that.

So it is time to end the Bill Stewart era before it ravages even more of the program.

Step #2: Hasten Ed Pastilong's Retirement.

Pastilong's decision to hire Stewart in the middle of the night after an emotional bowl win will be judged by time to be the most ill-advised, knee-jerk, reactionary mistakes in Mountaineer history. Instead of continuing to be deliberate with the process, Pastilong flushed an entire coaching search down the toilet. Why even go through with the search? Hell, why not just wait and see if Stewart won the game. If he did, hire him. If not, start the search. Makes sense, right? I certainly hope not -- but it probably does in Pastilong's mind.

Pastilong has done some things very right in his tenure as AD. Hiring Rodriguez and Huggins certainly rank towards the top of the list. But he has also shown a continued record of short-sided thinking. The hiring of Stewart is perfect case-in-point. Instead of hiring a younger coach with potential, Pastilong chose loyalty over reason and hired Stewart, a life-long assistant not regarded as a head coaching prospect on any level. And that decision has cost us dearly.

Instead of this terribly long transition period, get Pastilong out of office now. Bringing in a new athletic director immediately will allow a new coach to be chosen with his input. Without a new AD, we are facing this coaching decision with an interim president and an outgoing AD, who incidentally got us in this mess to begin with. While I don't have any concrete candidates, Whit Babcock, Oliver Luck, and even Jerry West immediately spring to mind. Someone with familiarity of our program would allow this coaching search to hit the ground running. With Pastilong, we face another bungled coaching hire waiting for us at the end of the tunnel. I would prefer sunlight instead.

Step #3: Hire a new coach.

Someone with unlimited upside, not necessarily confined by ties to the University. Someone young that can take us to the heights that Rodriguez achieve. Someone to bring hope to Mountaineer nation. Someone to get us through Step 7 of grief.

But who?

To be continued later today...