MORGANTOWN - The reason Oliver Luck felt it necessary to make a change in West Virginia's coaching staff was simple.
Under Bill Stewart, the program did not have a chance to get to where he wanted it to be.
"I didn't believe we had an opportunity to win a national championship,'' Luck said Thursday.
Thus, WVU's athletic director decided more than a month ago - on Nov. 14 - that Stewart's days as WVU's head coach were numbered. He told Stewart that the day after the Mountaineers won the first of four straight games, beating Cincinnati. Stewart even signed a contract modification that day.
The only variable was when Stewart would be forced out. After the Mountaineers finished strong by winning three more games, Luck decided to give Stewart a lame-duck year if he wanted it. But he would have to do it with a new offensive coordinator of Luck's choosing. On Wednesday, Luck hired Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who after next season will replace Stewart as the head coach.
So what was it that led Luck to believe that West Virginia could not compete at the highest level with Stewart at the helm after seasons of 9-4, 9-4 and 9-3? Well, obviously offense was a concern - thus the pursuit of Holgorsen - but Luck wouldn't go into specifics. He also said that the season-ending crowd of just 48,386 for a win over Rutgers played a part.
"At the end of the day, results matter. And we weren't getting results,'' Luck said. "And there was also a financial component to this. Our season ticket base has declined from Coach Stewart's first year to the present time.
"We've had only two crowds since 2004 under 50,000 at Mountaineer Field. Both of those took place [during Stewart's tenure, the other being Pat White's final game in a snow storm at the end of the 2008 season]. Can you blame the weather? Sure. But that, to me, is an indication that our fans aren't satisfied with the product. And that factors in as well.''
Under Holgorsen, Luck said, fan apathy shouldn't be an issue. Nor, he said, should WVU's current players be alarmed.
"I think for our players - guys like Geno [Smith] and Tavon [Austin], Brad Starks, Shawne Alston - I think they should be excited about what kind of an offense they'll be playing in,'' Luck said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for them.