After a week or so filled with speculations, possible back-stabbings and rumors that West Virginia’s coaching staff might spontaneously combust at any given moment, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck finally went public about the apparent tension between current coach Bill Stewart and coach-to-be Dana Holgorsen.
Luck appeared on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan at around 10:20 this morning — yes, the same station which former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Colin Dunlap appeared on last night to talk about Stewart’s request to “dig up… dirt” on Holgorsen — to address the issues and the following are a few notes from the interview.
“I’d be the last one to deny that we’re in a little bit of a controversy,” said Luck. “We are having a little bit of drama. I think the program is in pretty good shape. We can get this all sorted out.”
Luck mentioned that he and university officials have been working hard to figure out if there has been any truth to the rumors that Holgorsen had been involved in as many as six drunken incidents. Whether those rumors began from Stewart, Luck wouldn’t say.
“It’s difficult to know what’s fact and what’s not. I’ve got to have to me to figure that out. I can’t really say much at this point beyond that,” Luck stated. “My information has left me with a high level of confidence that there were a number of blatant inaccuracies of these allegations (with Holgrosen).
“I have a high level of confidence in his (Holgorsen’s) persona and discipline.”
Then, Luck had to answer the bombshell: if he had the chance to do it over again, would he choose to take the coach-in-waiting path?
“I thought it made sense at the time. Dana was given the opportunity to come in and focus on the offense, act as the mentor, give him a bit of understanding of Mountaineer football. In retrospect, we can all second guess. Would I do it again, I don’t know.”
At the time of Holgorsen’s hiring, there were many media members, myself included, who felt if there were ever a coach who could make this situation work, it was Stewart. While we’re not going on the record to say Stewart had anything to do with these allegations, it would be a real disappointment if he did (more coming on that later).
Regardless, Luck’s decision and timing to bring in Holgorsen already cost WVU their bowl game and to think this whole thing would have gone over smoothly — even with Stewart at the helm — may have been a bit naive.
Even on Luck’s part.
(Thanks to footballscoop.com for the quotes)
UPDATED 12:15 p.m. ET:Here is a statement by Luck released by WVU Sports Information:
“There have been various reports, much speculation, and rumor around our football program and coaches. But I want to make it clear that I consider these to be personnel matters and while I take them very seriously, I am dealing with them internally and privately – and I will not discuss them publicly.
“What I will say is that our athletic department coaches and staff are clear that their focus is on the program, the team and a successful season.
“My expectations of all our coaches and staff have not wavered; that is to run a clean and honest program with the utmost integrity and professionalism. Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”