Bill Stewart, the former WVU Head Coach, passed away suddenly and surprisingly from a heart attack at age 59 seven years ago today. Stewart will be remembered by most Mountaineer fans for taking over a WVU team after Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and beating Oklahoma 48-28 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Before the game, Stewart had one of the most beautiful, passionate speeches in Mountaineer history:
Following the huge upset win in the Fiesta Bowl, Stewart was named the Head Coach of the Mountaineers. In 2010, Dana Holgorsen was hired as the offensive coordinator and head coach in-waiting. This seemed like a great idea on paper, but ultimately it led to disastrous results. Stewart was said to have asked a newspaper reporter to “dig up dirt” on Holgorsen following an incident with a drunken Holgorsen at a casino. Ultimately Holgorsen took over as head coach while Stewart was given an administrative position with the team.
Although his exit as the Head Coach was tangled and difficult, he will always be remembered for being a true Mountaineer and West Virginia hero. According to an ESPN article following his passing, Joe Manchin said of Stewart, “he was a longtime friend who leaves behind a lifetime of memories and love for our state. Bill was a proud West Virginian in every sense of the word and he was the best cheerleader this state ever had.”
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Bill Stewart was loved by his players and he bled blue and gold. Ultimately Bill Stewart loved this state and West Virginia University more than anyone and he left no doubt about that.