IF YOU check out NBCSports.com, you'll see a list of the college football coaches on the proverbial hot seat. On Wednesday afternoon, the hottest seat nationally belonged to West Virginia's Bill Stewart. He was right ahead of his former boss, Michigan's Rich Rodriguez.
The two men seem hopelessly intertwined, from the last WVU staff grouping to the aforementioned hot seat list to the NCAA allegations being dealt with by WVU and UM.
Some, though, are suggesting WVU leaders look away from Michigan and at its Big Ten peer Minnesota.
In case you're unaware, the Golden Gophers fired head coach Tim Brewster and made offensive coordinator Jeff Horton the interim coach for the remainder of the season. The thought, apparently, is the school is getting a jump on others in regard to candidates.
WVU could do the same, the thinking goes, by naming defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel interim coach and begin an earnest search - unlike that undertaken when Stewart was named. Of course, names have already been thrown out there - Houston's Kevin Sumlin, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Tulsa's Todd Graham, North Alabama's Terry Bowden, etc. - in regard to the Mountaineer job. A "Gus Malzahn for WVU head coach" Facebook page has already been created supporting Auburn's offensive coordinator.
Odds are, however, no trigger will be pulled any time soon. For a few reasons. First, of course, the Mountaineers are in last place in the worst BCS league, but could go on a serious roll and finish the regular season 9-3. The team Brewster coached was 1-6 when the ax fell.
Second, Stewart's contract runs to Jan. 3, 2014. That is no small matter. If WVU fires the coach after this season, he would be owed around $2.475 million.
What about the fine print within the contract? There's a part of it that says Stewart could be terminated "without further obligation" if there's a "commission by Coach of a serious or major violation."
Well, it is there in black and white. Anyone can obtain a copy of the contract and check it out. If WVU officials, however, wish to invoke that clause they'll probably have to wait until after this season's round of hiring/firing. The reason: No determination by the NCAA will be handed down until, probably, next March, April or May.
See, Michigan, which began its investigation in August of 2009, still hasn't received the final decision from the NCAA. The allegations against WVU, which include Stewart, came as a by-product of those from UM via Rodriguez. The charges didn't hit Morgantown until August of this year.
Also, you may remember the recent report that WVU was given an extra couple of weeks, until Nov. 19, to respond. After that, a hearing will be held in front of the NCAA committee of infractions. UM's was in Seattle this past August. A call to Michigan confirmed a final decision still hasn't been rendered. ("It could come any day," said a UM representative. "We're just waiting.")