It's Game Day! WVU opens the 2009 Season at Home against Liberty today at Noon. The video above is of Head Coach Bill Stewart's Fiesta Bowl pre-game speech to the 2007-2008 Mountaineers. When he gave this speech, he was the Interim Head Coach. Mere hours after a stunning upset victory (our head coach left like a thief in the night) over Oklahoma, the interim title was removed and Coach Stewart became the new Head Coach.
I saw pieces of this video before every home game last year, it's part of our pre-game video presentation.
I saw the whole thing again on Tuesday, and I sat at my desk and cried (I know, such a girl, geesh). I was overcome with the context and words of his speech, talking to a team of young men whose head coach had lied to them and the entire WVU Fan Base; oh, and informed potential recruits of his plans to leave WVU before
telling sending a note with a Graduate Assistant to inform his current players and boss. It was so much more than a pre-game pep talk, it was a 'life' pep-talk. It was telling these players, and us as fans, that Mountaineer Pride was not attached to a man, to a promise of a Heisman Trophy, to a promise of a national title. It was tied to playing hard, and leaving nothing no doubt at the end of the day.
In the past year, and even more so in recent days, much has come to light about that former coach that has proven maybe it wasn't so bad that he left. Yet it was horrible in the way he did it. It was horrible that he told a team that had worked so hard and come so close to a chance at a National Championship that they weren't good enough to coach for even one more game. It was horrible that he took with him, Pat White's senior year Heisman Trophy chances.
If he'd coached that game, would there have been an upset? Would Coach Stewart have been hired? Would Pat White have stayed for his senior year of eligibility? Personally, I think not. For reasons, known only to him, that coach left. He left a week after he said, through tears, on National Television "I will finish my career at WVU." And we, a year and another bowl win later, are better off.
Last season, from the first game, it was called 'a new era'.
This season, it is another 'new era'. The new system put in by Coach Stewart has had a year to work out the 'kinks'. Pat White wears a Miami Dolphins uniform now, and at WVU a new, but-not-so-new-since-he's-been-our-backup-for-three-years, quarterback, Jarret Brown, will take the snaps. This season, the sting of a national-championship-ending loss and a coach sneaking away in the night will get a little less.
This season, the hope of a national championship will start to grow again. This season, begins today.
Today, we will Leave No Doubt! It's Mountaineer Pride!
Let's GO Mountaineers!