Coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen could be the head coach of West Virginia a lot sooner than expected if the university finds out that Bill Stewart ratted out his offensive coordinator to the media.
West Virginia officials told the Charleston Daily Mail on Monday that it was putting Stewart's contract on hold while it investigated "blatant inaccuracies" about the football program and Holgorsen. While the story says the university is looking into "the football program as well as other athletic-affiliated organizations," it's clear that Stewart is at the center of this inquiry.
So why the inquiry?
On May 28, Chuck Landon of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch wrote that Holgorsen was involved in six alcohol-related incidents that the university tried to cover up. He cited sources for some of his information and now it's coming out that those sources could have been Stewart or Stewart's wife, Karen.
The university said it would not sign off on Stewart's separation agreement with the university until the investigation concludes. That separation agreement was supposed to give Stewart one more season as the head coach and then allow him to bow out gracefully as he hands the torch to Holgorsen.
If this inquiry goes against Stewart, graceful won't be the word used to describe his exit.
Stewart has tried to put a good face on the situation, but Holgorsen's public alcohol-related incident at the Mardi Gras Resort & Casino on May 18, might have served as an opening for Stewart to force Holgorsen out and ultimately keep his position.
Soon after, rumors about Holgorsen's bouts with the bottle became rampant. The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reported that Holgorsen was asked to leave Oglebay Park, a resort in Wheeling, W.Va., earlier this year, and was also removed from the Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack. The Herald-Dispatch wrote that Holgorsen was asked to leave the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, W.Va., and the bar at Morgantown's Waterfront Place Hotel, where Holgorsen lives.
The paper also reported a 2008 transgression in Charleston while Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Houston and the team was in town to play Marshall. However, the Daily Mail reported that Holgorsen could not have been involved in any incidents that night since he flew back with the team on its charter.
The university investigated all of the incidents and found no evidence to back up the claims. That's when officials started to get suspicious and believe that a possible mole was lurking inside the athletic department. And, in typical Scooby-Doo-like fashion, it didn't take long for fingers to point toward the man with the most to gain from Holgorsen's downfall — Stewart (And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids media!).
But West Virginia should have known the whole "coach-in-waiting" plan was ill-fated from the start because of other teams who have tried it with mixed results.
Bobby Bowden left Florida State on bad terms after feeling he was forced out to allow coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher to move in. Will Muschamp got tired of waiting for his turn at Texas so he took the head job at Florida prior to this season. James Franklin did the same thing when he bolted Maryland for Vanderbilt. Purdue's Danny Hope, who was named the coach-in-waiting after the 2008 season and has now been the coach for the past three seasons, might be one of the few successful transitions to date.
As for how the Stewart-to-Holgorsen changeover will ultimately play out, that remains to be seen. The Daily Mail said the separation agreement does not serve as a formal document and since it hasn't been signed by WVU officials, Stewart, if found guilty, could easily find himself out of a job a lot sooner than he expected.