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Stewart knew about West Virginia's plans to replace him

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By Tony Dobies
Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bill Stewart knew on Nov. 14 that his days were numbered as West Virginia's football coach.

A day after a 37-10 victory over Cincinnati, which snapped a two-game losing streak, Stewart and first-year athletic director Oliver Luck met to discuss Stewart's future.

"I let him know I was not satisfied the way the program was going and that changes would be made," Luck said Thursday, explaining for the first time how Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen was hired this week to replace Stewart.

Holgorsen takes over as head coach in 2012 but will serve as offensive coordinator next season under Stewart. Holgorsen agreed to a six-year deal calling for him to make $800,000 in 2011 and $1.4 million every year thereafter. A full contract has not yet been finalized.

Stewart is expected to address his team Saturday. West Virginia did not make Stewart or Holgorsen available for comment yesterday. Oklahoma State also declined to make Holgorsen available.

Luck said he hired Holgorsen because he didn't believe Stewart and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen could win a national title.

"At the end of the day results matter," Luck said. "And we weren't getting the results."

Luck also cited waning support for the program after Stewart became coach and a loss in season tickets sales and attendance.

West Virginia finished 9-3 this season and plays North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28. Stewart has a 28-11 record with three bowl appearances in three years at West Virginia.

Stewart's contract was revised after meeting with Luck on Nov. 14, and he was given two options: Resign after the 2010 season, or stay through 2011 and then resign.

Luck met with Holgorsen nine days later in Kansas City, Mo., and Holgorsen visited the Morgantown campus in early December.

After West Virginia's final regular-season game Dec. 4, Luck decided to keep Stewart as coach for one more year.

After Stewart steps down, Luck said, the two will discuss his future in the athletic department.

Luck said the addition of Texas Christian to the Big East forced his hand.

"TCU is going to raise the bar of the Big East," he said. "I believe, eventually, the road to the Big East Championship will go through Forth Worth, and we need to be prepared to beat a team like TCU, on the road, to be up for a Big East title and a national title."

Luck said he doesn't expect trouble next season between Stewart and Holgorsen. Luck said the two coaches already have met.

After consulting with programs like Wisconsin and Oregon that had similar transitions, Luck decided that bringing in Holgorsen before taking over for Stewart would ease the changeover.

"Bill Stewart is a consummate professional," Luck said. "I don't think we'll have any problems."

The defensive staff led by coordinator Jeff Casteel will be retained after the 2011 season, Luck said. Holgorsen will have authority over which offensive assistants are retained.

"The responsibilities of the head coach through the 2011 season are no different than what they were in 2010," Luck said. "Bill Stewart is the head football coach. There's no question about that."

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