Bill Stewart could soon receive greater recognition


Bill Stewart has been deceased for nearly four years, but his spirit can live on forever.

That’s especially true if a new piece of legislation is called into order.

According to the Associated Press, “Several West Virginia state senators want to name an Interstate 79 exit in honor of late West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart. The resolution introduced Tuesday would request that the state Division of Highways name Exit 153 in Monongalia County the “Coach Bill Stewart Exit.”

It’s the least the state could do for someone who helped bring West Virginia’s flagship football program up from the darkest place it had ever been.

On Dec. 1, 2007, the Mountaineers fell, 13-9, to the hated Pitt Panthers. The loss infamously kept WVU out of the National Title game. A week after the deflating loss, Rich Rodriguez left the program for Michigan.

Bill Stewart, who was the quarterbacks coach at the time, was promoted to interim head coach.

He only had a month to cool the criticism from fans and players, alike, and prepare the Mountaineers to take on a highly-regarded Oklahoma team in the Fiesta Bowl.

Many predicted the Mountaineers would get their doors blown off by the Sooners. In fact, it was the other way around.

WVU earned a 48-28 win over OU and, after the game, Stewart was hoisted up by his players. In his postgame speech, after earning game MVP honors, WVU quarterback Pat White gave his endorsement that Stewart should remain head coach.

And that’s the way it was.

Stewart went 28-12 as head coach of the Mountaineers, a mark that fell considerably short against the lofty expectations the program was used to after competing for the National Title. He was forced out of the program and Dana Holgorsen was brought in to get WVU back to the heights it had seen under Rodriguez.

That hasn’t been the case.

Stewart got somewhat of a raw deal from West Virginia, based on the results we’re seeing today. However, he is not totally innocent of being the noble man many thought he was. Yes, Stewart was a good representation of the university because of his happy-go-lucky attitude and friendly demeanor.

But there was a controversial incident that ultimately led to his demise.

Then, without football, Stewart left this Earth much too soon. Had he not passed away on May 21, 2012, Stewart very well could be a part of the football program today. In a coaching aspect, no, but in an administrative position where he could put his public relations skills to good use.

By naming an exit after him, in which hundreds of thousands of motorists will see, West Virginia is taking a positive step in honoring a man who helped the Mountaineers more than anyone ever has.