Though he's only been a Mountaineer for a year, Bruce Irvin has become a guy to go to for a quote, something which makes him one of the most endearing players on the team. Following yesterday's announcement of Bill Stewart's resignation as head coach, Irvin didn't have anything controversial to say, but, as always, he didn't hide his personal opinion.
"I think it brings us together, hearing all the negativity around the program," Irvin began before the bombardment of heavier questions. "Everybody thinks it's going to be a distraction. Honestly, it's probably good that it happened so we can move on and handle our business this fall."
Over the past six months, the West Virginia football program has been nothing but a series of "what nows" and "whodunits." A clean sweep of the offensive staff was made, with the exception of Lonnie Galloway (who later left for Wake Forest). The program is coming off an NCAA investigation which is awaiting a final ruling, including the announcement of penalties. And over the past month, the powder keg this staff and administration was trying their best to render harmless finally blew up, leading to the eventual resignation of Stewart on Friday.
There is much that is unsubstantiated regarding the controversy that expedited Dana Holgorsen's elevation from offensive coordinator to head coach that may never come to light. What is known is that Oliver Luck and the powers that be were fed up with the controversy -- in Luck's words, the 'totality of innuendo'. The daily reports on national media outlets certainly grated on Luck, as well as on the players.
"I'm glad they got it out of the way because it was starting to get annoying," Irvin bluntly stated of the swirling rumors and the tension within the program. "It's just a bunch of 'he said/she said' stuff going on. It's good they got it out of the way so we can start our season."
After Holgorsen and Stewart, the parties most directly influenced by this are the players. According to Irvin, he and his teammates were aware that something was going on, but weren't sure exactly what it meant.
"Obviously we hear about it and we talk about it in the locker room. It's nothing we have any control over. At the end of the day it's about going out, working and getting better every day, trying to prepare for the season. A lot of people have stuff to say about Oliver Luck, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes."
Irvin understands his own responsibilities as a player, and what level of control he has over himself and the team – which is to play, regardless of who is calling the shots.
""All of this is new to me. There's a lot about the business side of things I don't understand. I mean, I never had this kind of situation in junior college. I always woke up knowing who the coach was going to be. That doesn't really matter. We don't have control over who wears the headsets on the sidelines, we just have to go out and play. At the end of the day, it's a business. You get it done or you don't."
Because Stewart was still the man in charge, Holgorsen was dedicated to his duties as offensive coordinator and had limited dealings with defensive players. This is something he is quickly looking to rectify as his role has expanded over the entire program. Holgorsen touched on that in his remarks on Friday night, and Irvin said the process was already underway. The senior has developed a bond with Holgorsen before now, so that should to make the transition easier.
"He's been talking to Julian (Miller) and Keith (Tandy) and he texted me last night asking, ‘Are you on board?' I told him, 'It's my senior season and it's a big deal to me. I'm on board.' We're going to have a team meeting Tuesday and talk more about it and then go from there.
"I'm just happy it's over with. Now we have one head coach and we can move on. I have a lot of respect for Dana. We talk to each other a lot," Irvin concluded.
For now at least, the program can move on without the perceived division and distractions that have prompted so much change in such a short amount of time. Summer sessions are underway, and the first game of the 2011 season is less than three months away. There may yet be more on the horizon for the program to battle through, but the future, in the form of Holgorsen, is now in Morgantown.