Stewart will be remembered most for his turbulent turns as a head coach. The low points include his three-year post at Virginia Military Institute, where he was forced to resign over using a racial slur with a player, and his slightly longer tenure leading West Virginia University, which ended with him being forced to resign after trying to smear the reputation of his designated successor. On the other hand, while an interim coach he led WVU to an upset win over a vaunted Oklahoma squad in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, which ultimately netted him the WVU job. Even his dismal stay at VMI is notable in one positive regard, as he hired current Pittsburgh Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin to his first coaching job.
Those who knew and worked with Stewart seemed to have difficulty believing that such a man was capable of achieving these career extremes. The lows contradicted the affable and relaxed posture he maintained in public and private life. The highs (particularly the Fiesta win and his subsequent promotion to unequivocal head coach) seemed beyond the reach of a journeyman coach who’d spent most of his career bouncing between a dozen assistant gigs with various colleges and CFL teams. Whatever the seeming contradictions, Stewart was responsible for some of the strongest memories in the history of Mountaineer football.