West Virginia offensive tackle Jeff Braun spoke for many of his teammates when he said Saturday afternoon that there was an incredible sense of relief around the program, one day after Dana Holgorsen took over as head coach.
The rumor, speculation and innuendo of the past week were not lost on the players, many of whom took to Twitter to voice their frustration. They saw their school and football program being portrayed negatively, and there was nothing they could do about it. But now that Bill Stewart has resigned and coach-in-waiting Holgorsen is in, everyone can finally move on to the business of trying to win a Big East championship.
Stewart and Holgorsen each addressed players who were in Morgantown on Saturday morning. Braun said Stewart had a smile on his face and thanked his players for giving him the opportunity to coach them.
"Coach Stewart said himself that these past six months were tough and it would be tough for anybody to have a dream job in your hometown basically and to know that in the back of your mind this is going to be it for you," Braun said in a telephone interview. "It’s tough. I think everything fell into place the way it should have at this point. We got rid of any problems and I think for the program itself, it’s going to help us move forward."
Stewart recruited Braun, so he had mixed emotions about the move. "He’s one heck of a man," Braun said. "He teaches you how to walk the daily walk as he used to say." But Braun agreed the decision for Stewart to leave was the right one.
Players found out Friday when athletic director Oliver Luck sent everyone a text message. Braun said players had been going about their daily workouts as normal throughout the turbulent past few weeks, though they did discuss the turmoil surrounding their program in the locker room.
"We knew in the end our athletic department would take care of everything and we, as players, are the ones who are going to have to play," Braun said. "No matter how great (Holgorsen's) offense, we still have to play and still have to execute. We’re the ones who are going to produce a Big East championship. It’s going to have to come through us."