Stewart situation is a disappointing one


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.


David Beaty elevates Cassius Sendish from GA to Kansas safeties coach

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It didn’t take long nor did David Beaty have to look far for Kansas’ new safeties coach.

The school confirmed on Thursday morning that graduate assistant Cassius Sendish, a former Jayhawks team captain and defensive back, would be taking over as the team’s new safeties coach to complete the staff for 2018.

“I am honored and proud to represent the University of Kansas football program,” said Sendish in a statement. “I hold this place near and dear to my heart and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at my alma mater. I can’t thank Coach Beaty and the rest of the football staff enough for allowing me to come aboard and be a part of something special.”

Sendish replaces Todd Bradford on the staff after he made the rather head-turning move to leave coaching and take a new job in the oil industry. Recently hired Bill Miller will continue to coach linebackers while the newest hire will team up with defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to handle the secondary.

There will be plenty of time for everybody to settle into their new on-field roles as the Jayhawks will open up spring practice on March 31st.

Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s NFL comeback makes stop at San Diego Pro Day

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Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold held his Pro Day on campus Wednesday and likely solidified himself as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Less than 24 hours later though, a former first round pick seemed to draw just as much attention a few hours south of Los Angeles.

That’s because Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel was down at FCS powerhouse San Diego’s Pro Day throwing passes and helping out a few of the Toreros’ NFL hopefuls in decidedly un-Southern California type conditions.

Few players had a more buzzed-about Pro Day than Johnny Football did back at Texas A&M and while he’s not throwing passes for a team just yet, at least it was cool to see the former superstar return to a campus with a football in hand Thursday. No word on if this gets Manziel closer to a comeback at the next level but it sounds as though it certainly didn’t hurt one of the most excited college football players in recent memory.

Willie Taggart making single-digit numbers at Florida State up for grabs in spring practice

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Spring practice for a new head coach brings tons of changes for a team as they get used to a new way of doing things. One of the bigger culture changes might be the transition Florida State is undergoing from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart.

While rap music at practice and a quick tempo are noticeable, so too are the numbers players are wearing at practice. It seems there’s a reason behind that change as Taggart is making players earn single-digit numbers instead of being able to carry them over from last season.

“I know when I was growing up the single digits went to the dudes. That’s kind of how we want it,” the new head coach said, according to the Associated Press. “Not everyone can be a single digit. Getting it is being one of the best.”

Taggart, who was No. 1 when he played back in the day at Western Kentucky, is not playing favorites at all when it comes to stripping the single-digits from jerseys. According to the AP report, former five-star and current star running back Cam Akers was wearing No. 23 instead of the No. 4 he wore in 2017.

Credit to the sophomore as he said that he liked the tactic but that kind of thinking might change by the end of spring practice if he doesn’t get his number back.

Dan Mullen is running gassers with the Gators when Florida players miss class

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If you’ve been a part of a football team at any level, chances are high that you are intimately familiar with running a gasser. Depending on how many you were forced to run, you might even have some traumatic memories of running down to the line and back.

New Florida head coach Dan Mullen is trying to instill a new culture in Gainesville with his first spring practice and one of the ways he’s trying to do that is establishing penalties for Gators players missing class. In a unique twist though, the coach isn’t just blowing the whistle and watching guys run up and down the field —  he’s joining them.

“Yeah, they weren’t real happy,” Mullen told 247Sports’ GatorBait site. “That was pretty simple, it’s about going to class. I don’t control that, they control that. If you’re late for class, everybody that’s late for class we run a gasser for. So if they don’t want to run gassers, then just show up on time for class and we don’t run gassers. We’ll get extra work in.

“I’m part of the team, so I should run the gassers too… Hey, if we make mistakes, we’re all going to pay the price. Whether it’s discipline issues, academic issues, football issues, training issues, we all pay the price. So I’m going to pay the price just like them.”

Not many head coaches would take the same path as Mullen but kudos to putting his hand in the dirt and running with his team. Something says a few of his players who struggled to get up and down the field were not to thrilled even if they had their head coach running alongside them though.