Monday, December 27, 2010

WVU changes bring awkward feeling at Champs Bowl

ORLANDO - The Champs Sports Bowl news conference of West Virginia coach Bill Stewart today had an awkward feeling to it, as if everybody was walking on eggshells.

Stewart has coached West Virginia to a 9-3 record this season heading into Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. bowl game against N.C. State. He is 28-11 after three full seasons with the Mountaineers, but his time with the team will end after the 2011 season.

Dana Holgorsen is leaving Oklahoma State to be Stewart’s offensive coordinator in 2011, and then will replace Stewart as head coach in 2012. Other staffing changes also are coming for 2011.

Stewart was asked if he had any thoughts about having some of his assistants at his side for the final time.

“That’s a personal matter,” Stewart said. “I appreciate you asking and I don’t want to dodge the question, but that’s in my heart.”

N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien was similarly mum when asked about Stewart’s situation. O’Brien and Stewart have a friendship that dates back more than 20 years.

Stewart and O’Brien got to know each other while coaching rival offensive lines at North Carolina and Virginia, respectively, in the 1980s. O’Brien was asked what he thought of the coaching changes at West Virginia.

“I think I’d better keep that to myself,” he said.

Ken Tysiac