Promising Personalities

When Bill Stewart was named West Virginia's 32nd head football coach in the early-morning hours of January 3, the longtime Mountaineer assistant vowed to put together an impeccable staff around him.

Never one to shy away from hyperbole, Stewart promised a staff that would retain instant credibility in Morgantown, even with the sudden but loud departure of the successful regime which re-invented Mountaineer football over the past seven seasons.

One by one, Stewart's staff was assembled, with several familiar names (Dunlap, Holliday, Lockwood) returning home, and a handful of new faces setting up shop in the Puskar Center.

The well-chronicled credentials of the defensive coaching staff include three coaches who have served as coordinators for BCS schools, and a line coach who has turned dozens of unheralded recruits into NFL players.

What hasn't been as heavily publicized, however, is the equally-impressive staffing Stewart did on the offensive side of the ball. Conducting the symphony of success on offense is first-time coordinator Jeff Mullen.

While Mullen had never worked with any of his offensive colleagues prior to spring practice, the reputations and accomplishments which proceeded them made for a smooth transition when they all came together at the behest of Stewart.

"There are four new guys that I have not worked with," Mullen explained. "It's five guys, five personalities, five thoughts coming from five very successful programs.

"Doc (Holliday) won a national championship at Florida. Dave (Johnson) won the SEC at Georgia," he continued. "Lonnie Galloway has three (Division I-AA national titles) at Appalachian State, and I was fortunate to win the ACC at Wake Forest. Chris Beatty was one of the winningest high school coaches in the state of Virginia, and has coached Division I ball as well."

Add it all up, and West Virginia's staff on both sides of the ball is as impressive as any in all of college football. Though one critic once compared Stewart to a painter being hired to build a house, the newest Mountaineer mentor proved to be a more-than-capable architect when it came to putting together the pieces around him.

"Stew did a great job of picking personalities," Mullen acknowledged. "He didn't just pick coaches, he picked personalities. We all get each other. We all get strengths and weaknesses, and we all match well. One guy's weakness might be another's strength. It's a great group of guys to be around, and I really enjoy coming to work."

While Stewart and his staff have only been together for one set of spring drills, expectations for the coming season will undoubtedly be sky-high. On the heels of another big January win, and with quarterback Patrick White looking for one more signature season for his magnificent career, the margin for error in year one is slim for Stew's stable of successul coaches.

Then again, if this particular staff's collective past serves as any indication of things to come, there is no reason to believe that 2008 will be anything less than business (i.e. winning) as usual in Morgantown.

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories