The last time West Virginia experienced head coaching turmoil before their bowl game, the Mountaineers beat Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
It was a different story this time around.
Ironically, it was the very coach hired immediately after that Fiesta Bowl, Bill Stewart, who was the source of the turmoil 3 years later.
As far as West Virginia’s 23-7 loss to North Carolina State is concerned, maybe Oliver Luck‘s decision to can offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, and eventually Stewart, to bring in Dana Holgorsen as the coach-in-waiting wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Holistically, the Champs Sports Bowl was indicative of what has plagued WVU for much of the season: no offense and too many turnovers. The defense, once again, played well enough to win the game, or at the very least, keep West Virginia in it. The offense did not.
And, despite the thematic struggles, Stewart has historically resisted changes on his staff.
So, Luck did it for him. It was a move that was certainly unconventional, and given the timing, maybe even a bit out of line.
But Luck’s decision to change the guards so soon may have had a more harmful effect in the short-term.
West Virginia simply looked uninspired against the Wolfpack. As per usual, the offensive line was sketchy, quarterback Geno Smith was running for his life and WVU’s two stellar seniors, Noel Devine and Jock Sanders, never really seemed to take the team on their shoulders and play like it was their last game.
Mistakes? Oh yeah, there were a lot of those, too. The Mountaineers committed 5 turnovers.
In short, West Virginia didn’t look like they wanted to be in Orlando.
Did premature coaching upheaval have anything to do with that? It’s possible, and it’s something that may come out in the coming days.
Of course, we’re not sayin’ this is Luck’s fault.
We’re just sayin’ …