The Times West Virginian

Daily Grind

April 27, 2009

A Cinderella story

A look at WVU coach Stewart’s career

Bill Stewart’s start as the head football coach at West Virginia University has all of the elements of a Cinderella story — the hometown boy gets thrown into a head coaching job for one of the top football programs in the country. He leads them to a victory in which 84 percent of the nation thought was impossible.

However, there was a lot more to Bill Stewart’s coaching career before that remarkable Jan. 2, 2008, victory.

The New Martinsville native had his fair share of coaching jobs before landing what he has called his dream job. Stewart got his first coaching job as an assistant at Salem College in 1977. He continued as an assistant at a number of schools, including North Carolina, Marshall, William and Mary, Arizona State and Air Force. In 1994, Stewart became the head coach at Virginia Military Institute (VMI.) He had a very poor record of 8-25 at VMI and left after three seasons to coach football in Canada.

In 2000, former head coach Don Nehlen hired Stewart as the quarterbacks’ coach at West Virginia University. Nehlen retired at the end of the season, but Stewart was kept on the staff by newly hired head coach Rich Rodriguez. He continued as the quarterbacks coach and took on special teams. During his time at WVU, he was promoted to assistant head coach. In December of 2007, upon Rodriguez’s abrupt departure, Stewart was named interim head coach of West Virginia University. Stewart coached the Mountaineers to what has been often called the biggest victory in school history. The Mountaineers defeated the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners with a final score of 48-28. In his MVP acceptance speech, quarterback Pat White sold Stewart as a candidate for the head coaching job.

“Coach Stew stepped in and did an excellent job,” said White in the speech. “I think I speak for all of the players when I say that he needs to be our head coach at West Virginia.”

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