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Chuck Landon: Unnamed sources not always who you assume

Jun. 11, 2011 @ 10:20 PM

The scenario is absolutely stupefying.

Here is the time line.

WVU coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen is escorted from a casino in Cross Lanes, W.Va., by police officers at 3:20 a.m. on May 18 for allegedly being intoxicated.

Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck classifies the incident as "unacceptable behavior."

I write a column on May 28 revealing Holgorsen was involved in at least two other incidents and, perhaps, as many as six, according to informed sources.

WVU goes into major damage control, contradicts all the allegations except the casino incident and initiates an internal investigation for leaks to the media.

An accusing finger is pointed at WVU lame-duck head coach Bill Stewart and his wife, Karen, as my sources.

In one of the greatest examples of public relations spin doctoring imaginable, all the attention is diverted away from Holgorsen's casino incident toward Stewart, who is portrayed as the bitter purveyor of a smear campaign.

At 1 p.m. on Thursday, I break the story on Twitter that sources say WVU is planning to fire Stewart on Friday.

At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, a WVU press release says Stewart has resigned although The Sporting News reported sources indicated Stewart was dismissed for "conduct detrimental to the university" and allowed to publicly resign.

At 9 p.m. on Friday, WVU holds a press conference to introduce Holgorsen as the Mountaineers' new head football coach, which means during a span of 24 days he went from being ejected from a casino to being promoted to head coach.

This would be farfetched as fiction, but as fact? Why, even if Rob Zombie teamed up with writers from the "Jerry Springer Show," they couldn't create a script this bizarre.

What makes it even more surreal is Matt Hayes of The Sporting News quoted Luck as saying, "WVU has not substantiated any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Stewart or his wife Karen."

There's a reason for that.

The truth of the matter is neither Stewart nor his wife were among my sources. I have never met or spoken with Karen. As for Bill, the last time I talked to him was on Sept. 22, 2010.

That's the day an outraged Stewart telephoned Herald-Dispatch sports editor Rick McCann, asking for my phone number. He complied and Stewart immediately called to berate me for writing a column saying he didn't shake hands with Marshall coach Doc Holliday after the Herd's 24-21 overtime loss to WVU on Sept. 10.

I've never spoken to Stewart since.

I do stand by my real sources, however. They certainly were accurate on Stewart's impending departure on Friday.

As for WVU, officials and fans alike are hopeful that this embarrassing circus of plots and sub-plots, allegations and innuendo will end now.

But will it?

An article written by Karen Crouse in Friday editions of The New York Times provided an interesting viewpoint centered on Mario's Fishbowl Bar and Grill, a popular hangout in Morgantown.

"The walls and ceiling of Mario's," wrote Crouse, "are papered with proclamations from customers of big successes -- of beers consumed in record time or in record numbers.

"One piece of paper, dated March 31 of this year, made it known that Holgorsen had consumed his first beer in the goblets big and deep enough to fit softballs. 'The first of many,' it read."

Bottoms up.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. Email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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