Bill Stewart

Stewart situation is a disappointing one

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Bill Stewart’s short tenure at West Virginia was marked by a lot of criticisms from the 60,000 head coaches sitting in the stands of Mountaineer Field on Saturdays.

Many didn’t think the man knew what he was doing, even though Stewart can lay claim to over 30 years of coaching experience at 12 different locations.

There were those who gnashed their teeth at then-offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen’s play calling, partially blaming Stewart in the process for not firing Mullen. But Stewart also deserved credit for keeping defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and hiring several solid defensive assistants when he started his time as head coach.

Yes, there were plenty of criticisms of Stewart. Some were justified, others not so much. But Stewart’s saving grace has always been his character. No one could honestly say Stewart was a bad guy who didn’t care about his players.

He is a great family man, a good husband to his wife and father to both his son, Blaine, and the sons he coaches on the field.

Which is why the latest allegations that Stewart and/or his wife may have leaked information about Holgorsen are disappointing.

It would be more disappointing if they turned out to be true.

Such crookedness would go completely against what Stewart has stood for his entire life. Upon accepting the job at WVU, Stewart claimed he wanted his players to be great “fathers, husbands, men of faith and contributors to society.” He said his handshake was his word.

Normally, clichés such as those are scoffed at in this day and age, but there was something old-fashioned, and, yes, a bit cheesy, about Stewart that made those promises more believable.

Stewart and Jim Tressel’s situation at Ohio State are hardly similar, but they are nevertheless two individuals who have been known to be upstanding — and believable — guys. One has already crashed and burned mightily. If the words of former Pitsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Colin Dunlap are true, Stewart might not be far behind.

Stewart’s professional reputation would be tarnished as well. Stewart will never be regarded as one of the great WVU coaches, but if the Mountaineers achieved any kind of success this season, he would be remembered as the coach who successfully bridged the gap between Rich Rodriguez and Dana Holgorsen with little drop-off.

Instead, we have this situation.

To believe in the coach-in-waiting move wholly was probably naïve; a deeper look under the surface shows something insidious.

“In retrospect, we can all second guess.  Would I do it again? I don’t know,” said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck on a Pittsburgh’s 93.7  The Fan earlier today about his coach-in-waiting situation.

The melodrama of the past two weeks would suggest turning that phrase from “I don’t know” to simply “no”.

But there were opportunities to say “no” the first time. Stewart could have resigned at the end of the 2010 season as his “amended contract” gave him the option to do. Or, Luck simply could have fired Stewart without cause and paid a handsome buyout of about $2.5 million.

There was money involved, so it’s pretty obvious what the answer was going to be. Whether that answer was mutually agreed upon among Stewart, Holgorsen and Luck is still unclear.

Still, there’s a price for every decision. And not all of them amount to dollars and cents.

 

No. 10 Washington becomes Pac-12 front-runner after Friday night thrashing of No. 7 Stanford

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Quarterback Keller Chryst #10 of the Stanford Cardinal is hit as he throws by linebacker Connor O'Brien #29 and linebacker Psalm Wooching #28 of the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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All summer long, people wondered why Washington was getting so much preseason love.

After Friday night’s 44-6 thrashing of Stanford in front of a national audience, nobody is wondering anymore about the Huskies.

The sophomore backfield combo of quarterback Jake Browning (210 yards, three touchdowns) and Myles Gaskin (an even 100 yards rushing, two scores) once again powered Washington to a big win, with the offense scoring on all but two full drives on a night where everything went right for the purple and gold.

Defensively is where the Huskies really impressed though. The team swarmed to the ball on every snap, forced two fumbles, racked up eight sacks and kept Stanford under three yards a play for most of the night. The normally reliable Christian McCaffrey was kept in check in remarkable fashion, rushing for just 49 yards on 12 carries.

Just six days after a remarkable comeback win at UCLA, there wasn’t much left in the tank for a Stanford team that was missing two starting cornerbacks and just couldn’t get anything going offensively on the road in a hostile environment. Quarterback Ryan Burns did throw for 151 yards and a touchdown but was under siege most of the night thanks to some shaky play up front from the normally reliable Cardinal offensive line.

The win by Washington certainly establishes Chris Petersen’s team as the Pac-12 favorite — at the very minimum — with a chance to all but punch their ticket to the conference title game next week at Pacific Northwest rival Oregon. If the Huskies continue to look like they did on Friday in Seattle though, a berth in the College Football Playoff is certainly going to be in the cards as well.

No. 10 Washington putting on a show with big first half against No. 7 Stanford

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal looks on prior to the game against the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On the first offensive play of the night for Stanford, the Cardinal picked up a first down thanks to a face mask penalty.

It was all downhill from there for the Cardinal.

No. 10 Washington lived up to their high preseason billing on Friday night by manhandling the defending Pac-12 champions in just about every way possible to jump out to a 23-0 halftime lead.

Quarterback Jake Browning threw just three incompletions on his way to 167 yards and two touchdowns and the Huskies looked every bit the part of a top five team in a wild, vintage atmosphere on Montlake. While the offense was impressive, the Washington defense was swarming as well, racking up six sacks in the game so far.

Stanford couldn’t get anything going offensively, averaging just 2.8 yards per play in the first half. Superstar Christian McCaffrey was held mostly in check, with just eight yards receiving and 31 on the ground.

To add injury to the insult of that first half, the Cardinal’s best defender — defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — was injured in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. The team is already without both its starting cornerbacks for the game so it could be a long second half for the visitors.

The game isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of #Pac12AfterDark potential but that was quite a statement made by Chris Petersen’s Huskies in the first half in establishing their credentials for the College Football Playoff.

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes reportedly dealing with shoulder sprain

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Patrick Mahomes II #5 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders stiff arms Daniel Wise #96 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half on September 29, 2016 at AT&T Jones Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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Texas Tech may be without its starting quarterback just as Big 12 play is picking up.

Patrick Mahomes II injured his shoulder on a scramble in the third quarter of the team’s romp over Kansas on Thursday night and did not return to the game. While he was shown on television attempting to throw on the sidelines after returning to the sidelines, he watched the rest of the second half with a headset on instead of a helmet.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports there’s a reason Mahomes didn’t return: he’s dealing with an AC joint sprain in the shoulder of his throwing arm. Mahomes’ father posted on social media that the quarterback would not need surgery to correct the injury but it’s still something that could sideline the Red Raiders’ signal-caller for a few games.

Texas Tech does get a little extra rest before traveling to Kansas State next week on Saturday and then host West Virginia at home the following week.

Mahomes entered the week second in the country in passing, third in passing efficiency, and first in total offense. If there is any positive for Tech it’s that there might not be such a huge drop off to backup Nic Shimonek considering the junior came in and threw four touchdown passes in relief of Mahomes in a little over a quarter’s work against the Jayhawks.

Still, Mahomes is one of the most dynamic players in the country at the quarterback position and they’ll certainly need him back behind center if they stand any chance at beating some of the upper tier Big 12 teams to close out the month of October.

Ohio State OL Demetrius Knox out 8 weeks with another broken foot

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Storm clouds roll in over Ohio Stadium in the second quarter of a game between the Tulsa Hurricane and the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 10, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. The second half was delayed because of severe weather.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Aside from his feet, Demetrius Knox simply can’t catch a break.

In February of 2015, the Ohio State offensive line broke his foot and miss all of spring practice.  A year and a half later, ElevenWarriors.com initially reported that Knox had again sustained a broken foot and would be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

An OSU spokesperson subsequently confirmed the redshirt sophomore recently underwent surgery and will be out for eight weeks, although it’s unclear if it’s the same foot he broke last year.  Such a timeline means Knox’s regular season is all but over, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll play in the postseason.

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Knox was rated as the No. 5 guard in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Texas.  On 247Sports.com‘s composite board, Knox was rated as the No. 97 player overall in that class.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Knox played in 13 games in 2015, mostly on special teams.  This season, he’s been listed as a backup at right guard while maintaining a role on special teams.