MORGANTOWN - Bill Stewart didn't take long to put together an outstanding staff after being named West Virginia University's new head football coach last Jan. 4.
What's more, his transition with a mostly new group of coaches couldn't have gone more quickly and smoothly as all of the positions were filled by early February.
"We did it very fast and very fluent because I knew the guys," Stewart recalled last week. "That's what head coaches do. They hire good people that they know real well."
He really knew who he wanted, and he lost no time in getting approval to hire what is clearly the most experienced and highest-paid football staff in WVU history. In the pickin' process, he lured some coaches almost no one thought he could get.
Foremost among those was John "Doc" Holliday, who was at Florida, which had just won the national championship. And he happened to be interested in returning to his alma mater as head coach until Stewart got the nod.
"I talked to (athletic director) Eddie Pastilong out in Arizona (a short time after WVU's 48-28 upset of No. 3-ranked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl)," he said. "I told him I was very honored and very proud to be the head coach, but that I needed help.
"I said there were some guys I had to have. (Defensive coordinator) Jeff Casteel and (D-line coach) Bill Kirelawich were going to stay, and they are two of the finest men in the business.. They not only are great coaches but darned good men. Good husbands, good fathers, good people.
"Mike Kerin and Pat Kirkland also were staying (in administrative positions). So I had a good nucleus. I told Pastilong we needed Steve Dunlap and David Lockwood to complete the defensive staff.
"While agreeing, he said, 'Gee whiz, can you get those guys?' I said, 'I know they want to come home. I just know it.'"
Both Dunlap and Lockwood, who share coaching in the secondary, not only had played at WVU but also coached here. It was the same situation for Holliday, who came back as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
"Again we're talking about good husbands, good fathers, great football coaches," he said. And they love West Virginia - not like, not fond of, but love West Virginia."
With the defensive staff set, Stewart then turned to appointing coaches for the offense. Besides Holliday, who will coach tight ends and fullbacks, Stewart talked Dave Johnson, another former WVU player and coach, into returning as offensive line coach after seven years at perennial power Georgia.
He completed the staff with running backs coach Chris Beatty and wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, two others with whom he was acquainted.
By gladly accepting a salary of just $800,000 per year for himself, Stewart was given a record amount of money to make it worthwhile for the men he wanted as assistants to come to West Virginia.
"Thank God, the university administration and 'Coach' Pastilong let me bring in those people," Stewart said.
"That's why we have the most experienced, most expensive staff WVU has ever had.
"Me? Hey, I'd come to work for free. I love this place. You can only use so much money, anyway."