West Virginia players sidestep coach controversy
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With their head coach and head coach-to-be embroiled in controversy, West Virginia football players said this afternoon they are unaffected by off-the-field rumors.
"I don't care, we could have no coaching staff next year," said junior offensive lineman Jeff Braun. "We're still going to field a team, and I'm still going to go out there and play."
Select players met with reporters this afternoon at the Milan Puskar Center on West Virginia's campus, a news conference that had been scheduled to discuss summer conditioning. But many questions focused on head coach Bill Stewart and offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who will become head coach at the conclusion of the 2011 season.
"We ain't focused on that right now," said senior defensive linemen Bruce Irvin. "I love coach Stewart and I love coach Holgorsen. Coach Stewart's a good dude, coach Holgorsen's a good dude. . . . It's unfortunate. You never want this type of publicity or this type of stuff around your program."
Holgorsen recently apologized for an alcohol-related incident in which he was asked to leave a casino near Charleston, W.Va. While a local news report said he was involved in other alcohol-related incidents, most of those have been refuted by the university, which has cited "blatant inaccuracies." None of the alleged instances violated any laws.
Now, the university is trying to find out if anyone within the school leaked potentially disparaging information about Holgorsen. Colin Dunlap, a former reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who used to cover the team for the newspaper, said early this morning on 93.7 The Fan that Stewart had asked him in December to dig up "dirt" on Holgorsen.
Stewart was not immediately available for comment, according to West Virginia athletic spokesman Michael Fragale.
During a separate interview with 93.7 The Fan, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck was non-committal when asked whether either Stewart or Holgorsen would be head coach come fall. He declined to discuss specifics until he learned more about the situation.
"It's difficult to know what's fact and what's not," Luck said on the show. "Before I make any comments, I've got to spend some time trying to figure out what the facts are. That's the only fair way.""
Later, he released a statement through the university.
"There have been various reports, much speculation, and rumor around our football program and coaches," Luck said in the statement. "But I want to make it clear that I consider these to be personnel matters and while I take them very seriously, I am dealing with them internally and privately -- and I will not discuss them publicly."
Luck, through Fragale, declined an interview request from the Post-Gazette.
First Published June 7, 2011 2:39 pm