Assistant Stewart To Run Practices While West Virginia Searches For New Coach

Associate head coach Bill Stewart has been placed in charge of practices

Dec. 18, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia associate head coach Bill Stewart has been placed in charge of practices as the football team prepares for the Fiesta Bowl and the administration starts looking for someone to replace Rich Rodriguez.

West Virginia had yet to name an interim coach Tuesday, two days after Rodriguez told his players he was leaving for Michigan.

Stewart is the second-longest serving assistant coach in the program. He was retained by Rodriguez when he replaced Don Nehlen for the 2001 season.

Stewart was promoted to his current title this season and coached special teams and tight ends. He relinquished his role as quarterbacks coach, which he held since 2000.

This task could be his toughest, even if it lasts only a few practices.

West Virginia departs Morgantown on Dec. 26 and will face No. 3 Oklahoma in the Jan. 2 game in Glendale, Ariz.

Stewart and WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong didn't immediately return telephone messages Tuesday.

Stewart has been an assistant at Marshall, William & Mary, Navy, North Carolina, Arizona State and Air Force. He became head coach at VMI in 1994 and went 8-25 over three seasons.

After a stint in the CFL, he joined the West Virginia staff in 2000.

Rodriguez announced that he wasn't going to coach West Virginia in the bowl game out of concern that it would create too much of a distraction. That would make him the first coach to get a team to the BCS but not coach in it.

To complicate matters for West Virginia, Rodriguez introduced two of his top assistant coaches at his Michigan news conference and said he would like to bring more from Morgantown. Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee declined comment at the news conference on his immediate plans and didn't immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.

Secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson, whose WVU contract runs through June, said he planned to remain with the Mountaineers for the bowl game.