Busy day with the press conference here shortly, basketball interviews later in the afternoon and football interviews tonight. My eye is on the press conference. It should be most interesting and enlightening.
Stewart has three times already discussed Saturday’s loss — post game Saturday and conference calls Sunday and Monday – and, since it’s worth repeating, conducted himself calmly and responded dutifully. I just think this might be different here in a few minutes. It has to get old after a while … and he has a radio show tomorrow.
I also think you may see one of Stewart’s finest hours, both today and this week. In the time between his arrival on a full-time basis and today, there have been rumblings and grumblings, and the distaste for what’s happening under his roof has fluctuated between mild to severe and often hung around the middle and leaned toward the latter.
Never, though, have the conditions around his program been what they are today.
The back-to-back losses to ECU and Colorado in 2008 could be understood and dismissed since they were his second and third games. A home loss later that year as a ranked team against Cincinnati was easier to get over, as was the loss to Pitt a few weeks later.
Last year the loss to Auburn was so self-inflicted it didn’t bother people quite as much as the more perplexing loss to USF, when the offense was again bullied by the Bulls. The loss to Cincinnati will forever be linked to that replay review decision.
Maybe the most serious rival to the current mood would be after last season’s bowl game when the Mountaineers weren’t very good on offense against one of the nation’s worst defenses and Stewart and WVU went out quietly and almost deferentially to Bobby Bowden.
All of that said, say what you will about Stewart, but the man has a way with words. His teams have been good after losses (8-1 record, collective plus-123 in scoring margin). He can light fires within people and get his guys going in the right direction.
Been that way from the beginning.
I don’t know — and I don’t think — the press conference will be grandstanding, but I trust Stewart will be confident and motivational and pointed and deal with the issues in the best way he knows. Same as he is in meetings and practices and the locker room, I’m sure.
He knows he’ll be pressed and that there is concern and there are issues that must be addressed and cured, but he knows he has to be the general. I’m intrigued by this more than anything else because this week, as a motivator — and especially after what was widely deemed by WVU an uninspired effort agaisnt Syracuse — Stewart cannot fail.
/Cannon fires in the background
Bill Stewart: No leader should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no leader should fight a battle simply out of pique. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened leader is heedful, and the good leader full of caution.
That being said, I will now take your questions. Fire when ready.
Bob Hertzel: Stew, UConn is going to sell out. It’s 40,000 people on Friday night of Halloween weekend. It’s ESPN2. They just got shutout and this is make-or-break for their season. Your teams are also 5-7 in true road games. How do you, after what happened Saturday, put all of that aside in what’s a pretty big game for you, too?
BS: If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.
Mike Casazza: Bill, you mentioned earlier this week that perhaps you’d run the ball and put more of the weight of the offense on your players’ legs than on your quarterback’s arms. At this stage of the season, how realistic is an offensive shift and, if realistic, how much of a change can we expect to see? And I tend to ramble and I haven’t yet rambled or thrown out any fancy words. Supererogatory. Mellifluous.
BS: Unhappy is the fa–
MC: Tremendous. Eschew.
BS: Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.
Colin Dunlap: Bill, I get a lot of email and four out of seven say this offensive balance you’re been trying to attain, yes, it makes it difficult for the defense, but that it also prevents your offense from hitting stride. Speak to the value of the balance as well as the pitfalls … because it does go both ways, doesn’t it?
BS: Colin, football tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards… Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
Mickey Furfari: Coach, how do you feel about being a seven-point favorite? Seems high to me since road games have been hard and your offense hasn’t been as productive. Then again, Connecticut did get shutout, so maybe all you need is a touchdown. And their quarterback is making his second start. Seems it should be higher.
BS: The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.
MF: I’m sorry?
BS: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
Answer Dude: Billy, have you figured out what it is with turnovers this season? You’re right in the middle nationally in turnovers and turnover margin.
BS: Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
Tony Dobies: How has everyone responded in the few days since the loss and how do you see your team moving forward on a short week?
BS: When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse. When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment, before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or no he is in a position to fight, the result is ruin.