Bill Stewart, who coached West Virginia for three seasons after the departure of Coach Rich Rodriguez, passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack while playing golf. Stewart, 59, was serving as a college football analyst for ESPN following his resignation from the school in June 2011.
Stewart was involved in coaching at the college level since 1977. He was an assistant at North Carolina, Salem College, Navy, Marshall, William and Mary, Air Force and Arizona State. He served as an assistant for both the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League before joining West Virginia in 2000.
Stewart compiled a 36-37 record as a head coach in his career, with stops at both West Virginia and Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
Stewart got his first head coaching job at VMI in time for the 1994 season. The Keydets struggled in the Southern Conference and Stewart had limited success with the program. Stewart went 1-10 in his first season at the school and improved to a 4-7 mark in 1995. That was progress for a school that last posted a winning season in 1981.
Stewart and the Keydets went 3-8 in 1996, which was his last at the school. Stewart resigned after the season when a report surfaced that he made a racially insensitive comment toward one of the players on the team. Stewart later said it was an isolated incident and was never an issue again.
West Virginia (2007-2010)
After eight years as an assistant with the Mountaineers, Stewart was given the head coaching position in an interim capacity on December 16, 2007. Stewart led the team to a 48-28 upset victory over third ranked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. A day later, on January 3, 2008, Stewart signed a five year head coaching deal for West Virginia.
Stewart’s first season as the Mountaineers’ head coach was an up and down affair. The school beat Auburn and Connecticut but was defeated by Colorado and Marshall, in addition to losing the “Backyard Brawl” to Pittsburgh. The school finished the 2008 season with a 9-4 mark, capped by a 31-30 victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Mountaineers were undefeated at home in 2009, including a win over Pittsburgh in the “Backyard Brawl” when the Panthers were ranked eighth in the nation. They were unable to translate that success at home to the road, as the team lost three games on the road. The Mountaineers were second in the Big East but lost to Florida State in Bobby Bowden’s final game in the Gator Bowl. West Virginia finished tied for first in the Big East in 2010 but losses to Syracuse and Connecticut prevented them from the automatic BCS berth. West Virginia lost to North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Stewart resigned on June 10, 2011 rather than completing his final season with the school. There was bad blood between Stewart and offensive coordinator and future coach Dana Holgerson. Two reporters stated that Stewart had asked them to dig up information on Holgerson and smear him in their papers. The school pressured Stewart to resign and he agreed. In return, they paid out his contract.
Stewart is survived by his wife, Karen, and their son, Blaine.