As someone who aspires to write about sports for a living, I do the best I can to be as objective and fair as possible, despite the fact that “objectivity” and “fairness” aren’t exactly in CFT’s mantra; we tend to write with a little bit of an edge.
However, born and partially raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, I would be lying if I said the Mountaineers’ recent struggles didn’t at least hit a little close to home.
With a 16-13 loss to Connecticut, West Virginia is now 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the
watered-down sub-par atrocious Big East. For Mountaineer fans, that just won’t cut it. There were grumblings in Bill Stewart’s first year, in which the Mountaineers went 9-4. There were grumblings, albeit slightly fewer, in Stewart’s second year, in which the Mountaineers, again, finished 9-4.
Now, as I sit in my apartment in Austin, I can hear them from 2000 miles away. WVU fans have tasted success and now they want more of it.
There are a solid group of Mountaineer loyalists who believe Stewart’s hire was an emotional one. I was at the Fiesta Bowl when West Virginia beat Oklahoma 48-28 and I heard Pat White‘s (in)famous words that Stewart deserved the head coaching job. Less than 12 hours later, Stewart was announced as the new coach.
Was it emotional? That’s not for me to decide. Who knows what was running through then athletic director Ed Pastilong‘s head at the time.
Emotion, jubilation, logic — whatever it was that led to Stewart’s hiring, three years later, it’s wearing off. I received a text last night from a friend saying that traveling back from Storrs was like a death march.
It seems, at least to me, that coaches on the hot seat always get involved in firsts — and not in a good way. The loss to UConn was West Virginia’s first. The loss to Syracuse the week before was the first in nearly a decade. The Mountaineers probably should have lost to Marshall in what would have been the first time in school history.
I’m not advocating a firing — no one died on Stewart’s watch — but given the talent of West Virginia and the lowliness of the conference, the last two weeks have been head-scratching.
And there’s nothing subjective about that statement.