PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Last May, Bill Stewart joined his colleagues at the Big East spring meetings to tackle league business and catch up with old friends.
One of them, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, was particularly saddened by the news of Stewart's sudden and tragic passing Monday. When Jones took a job as receivers coach at West Virginia in 2005, Stewart was there as quarterbacks coach. The two grew close in the two seasons Jones spent with the Mountaineers. They then had the opportunity to face each other on opposite sidelines as Big East head coaches.
"Just one year ago, he was sitting in the meetings with us and we were sitting on the beach together talking," Jones recalled Tuesday. "Things like this put things into perspective in all aspects."
Here is the way Jones will remember his good friend:
You think of Bill Stewart the man and how much his wife Karen and his son Blaine meant to him. The best word that describes him is family man. They were everything to him. That was first. Him and I have been through a lot of wars together on the same team and also competed against each other. He was an individual of high integrity. We had that special bond from the positions we coached, and our friendship really grew. He was one of the guys who took me under his wing. He was a mentor to a lot of people. A father figure but extremely competitive. He had a love and passion for the state of West Virginia and that university. He used to talk about the old blue and gold, so I will always think about the passion and the affinity he had for Morgantown and the people in that community.
USF coach Skip Holtz also shared his fondest memory of Stewart.
He’s one of those guys that when you would have a big win, your phone would ring and it would be Bill Stewart. But the thing that makes Bill so classy is when you had that heartbreaking loss, your phone would ring and it would be Bill Stewart. I have great respect for him not just as a football coach but as a man and the way he handled everything. We lost one of the good people in this business, without a doubt. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the entire West Virginia family because he was a special individual.