While most college football coaches are looking for a statement of support from their presidents, Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart has turned the tables. The first-year WVU head coach, who pulls no punches in his opinions, strongly supports Garrison in a letter released on Monday evening.
In the letter, Stewart does not mention the current controversy involving the WVU president. He does clearly state his support for both Garrison and Athletic Director Ed Pastilong.
Critics and cynics will likely point out a transparent motive for Stewart -- namely, that those two individuals were the ones responsible for hiring him just four months ago. They'll also likely link this to the lifetime contract given to men's head basketball coach Bob Huggins two days ago as another P.R. ploy by the school. However, there's one problem with all that -- Stewart is no one's mouthpiece.
As noted and evidenced many times already during his short tenure, Stewart is nothing if not honest. No matter the circumstances, it's hard to imagine him shilling for something or someone he doesn't believe in. So, no matter how much weight this statement of support carries, there can't be any doubt as to the sincerity of the person making the statement.
The full text of Stewart's letter follows.
I would like to take this opportunity to voice my support for President Mike Garrison. He works hard every day for each employee of this great University. He cares about the state of West Virginia and his alma mater and fights every day to ensure that WVU is a first-class institution.
President Garrison is man's man and believes in accountability. I have seen first hand how he interacts and connects with all of WVU's student-athletes. He supports the school's mission, believing they must be students first and competitors second. He cares just as much for them in the classroom as he does on the playing field.
He has my unwavering loyalty and support. I report to two great administrators, gentleman and leaders in Mr. Ed Pastilong and President Garrison. Without the support of these two fine individuals, Mountaineer football would not have reached the pinnacle of success that it is enjoying today. I would jump into a foxhole with these two classy men, any day.
Last year after our only two losses of the season, President Garrison was there for the players and coaching staff with unconditional encouragement. How he backed the team after these two tough defeats meant more to us as a program than his exuberant support following the Fiesta Bowl victory.
It's examples like this that show what a classy leader we have at West Virginia University. Bill Stewart and West Virginia Football proudly support President Mike Garrison, and we are very thankful that he is leading this great University now and into the future.
Head Football Coach
West Virginia University