It's just the way Billy was, which is why he was one of a kind.
No, he didn't always talk that way. Get on his bad side and Stewart could be brutal, but always in private. Cross him or question him for something that he felt strongly about and he would spend an eternity proving you wrong.
I still remember the criticism he took for his clock management at the end of an overtime loss at Colorado during his first season. He was roundly panned for allowing the clock to run down and wasting an opportunity to drive for a winning field goal in regulation. I was one of the few in the media who agreed with his strategy. Had he quickened the pace he risked the chance of failing and having to give the ball back to the Buffaloes and present them with a chance to win.
A few weeks later, West Virginia played Connecticut in Hartford and won big, the team's fifth straight since that loss at Colorado. That evening I was still in Hartford writing. Stewart was already home on his back porch with a cold one, watching a team on TV try exactly what he was criticized for not doing at Colorado. The team ran out of downs, had a punt blocked and lost in regulation.
My phone rang.
"Gee, maybe that's what I should have done,'' Stewart said sarcastically on the other end. "What do you think they'd have said then?''
Those times were rare, though. Mostly, Bill Stewart was about being positive and upbeat and loyal. He probably was a bit too much of all of those for a head coach, who needs to tilt more toward realism and practicality and possess a cutthroat mindset.
The bottom line is that all of that folksiness and the positive vibe were real, the way his tenure ended notwithstanding. No one cared more for the school at which he coached or the state in which he lived, period. It's not even arguable. Even Bob Huggins, whose passion for West Virginia knows no bounds, will admit that he paled in comparison to Stewart.
And there will never be another quite like him.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.