As the Couch Burns: Reporter claims Stewart asked him to dig up ‘dirt’ on Holgorsen

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart may have heard his coaching career come to an abrupt end.

Colin Dunlap, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and the paper's former West Virginia beat writer, told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh -- around the midnight hour -- that Stewart called him on Dec. 18 and asked him to dig up "dirt" on newly named coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen.

Holgorsen was hired and given the coach-in-waiting title on Dec. 15.

"It was the day he was going to the bowl game because I distinctly remember there was a coaches convention in Pittsburgh with high school coaches," Dunlap recounted on the radio. "He was flying from down from Pittsburgh to Orlando for like pre-prep work.

"He tried to flame-throw the guy in December by calling me and at least one other reporter because the other reporter and I discussed it. [Stewart] said, can you get the word, I think it was scumbag or something, tattooed on the front of the sports page? You need to dig up this dirt; you need to get it out on this guy. And I said, 'Hey man, I'm not a part of some witch hunt.' But I understood the guy was like backed in a corner and was in a tight spot."

On Monday, the Charleston Daily Mail reported that West Virginia was seeking leaks that might have contributed to inaccurate stories about Holgorsen and several alcohol-related incidents.
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 it was later speculated that those sources could have been Stewart or his wife, Karen.

Landon's story came on the heels of Holgorsen's public alcohol-related incident at the Mardi Gras Resort & Casino on May 18. 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 Daily Mail 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 university investigated the incidents and found no evidence to back up the claims, which led it to not only conduct its own investigation into a potential mole, but also put the completion of Stewart's separation agreement on hold.

Radio host Chris Mueller then asked Dunlap why he waited until now to speak about his conversation with Stewart.

"The reason is, No. 1 at the time I kind of gave the guy the benefit of the doubt because I knew he was backed in a corner and kind of scared, and in a sense, I sat on a story," Dunlap said. "That's a pretty big story that I could have written. So that's No. 1, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But why now is because there's a pattern forming. And, no one had really ever asked me until you just asked me if Bill Stewart had ever had a problem with truth, and I answered your question truthfully."

If there was any question about animosity between Stewart and Holgorsen, Dunlap provided the answer. He did come under fire for his information.

However, he was quick to say he doesn't know whether Stewart or even someone close to Stewart was the leak to the latest stories about Holgorsen. However, Dunlap said, if Stewart was involved in any way, he's coached his last game for the Mountaineers.

"This makes a second instance where he's trying, if -- if -- it's true that he's even involved with assailing Dana Holgorsen's character or attempting to, this would make the second instance thus a pattern would form of him going after the same man.

"I just think that the [coach-in-waiting] situation is doomed to fail."

What to Read Next