Western Kentucky AD Todd Stewart is frustrated by the Hilltoppers' 1-6 start. You can tell because he used the words seven times in one answer to the Bowling Green Daily News.
"It’s been really frustrating,” Stewart told the paper. “I know our fans are frustrated and I get it. If I was a fan, I’d be frustrated too. But the athletic director is frustrated, the head coach is frustrated, the assistant coaches are frustrated, and our players are frustrated.
"It hasn’t been fun for anybody – 1-6, it’s certainly not who we have been as a program. It is right now who we are. It can’t be who we are moving forward, but I don’t believe it will be. I believe we will come out of this."
Stewart hired Mike Sanford after the 2016 season when Purdue hired away Jeff Brohm, making the 34-year-old Sanford the youngest head coach in FBS at the time. Brohm had led WKU to back-to-back Conference USA championships and a 30-10 mark in his three seasons; Sanford went 6-7 in his first year and now stands at 1-6.
Though that 1-6 mark is a source of frustration in Bowling Green, Stewart also sees it as a source for optimism.
- WKU led Maine 21-0 before losing 31-28
- WKU held leads of 14-0 and 17-13 over Louisville before losing 20-17
- WKU led Marshall 17-13 before losing 20-17
- WKU led Old Dominion 34-27 inside the game's final 20 seconds before improbably losing 37-34 in regulation
In all, Western Kentucky has held leads in six of its seven games but managed to hang on to just one of them. While it's been frustrating to watch those leads evaporate, Stewart points to the fact they existed in the first place as the reason why he's not worried about the Hilltoppers' long-term prospects under Sanford.
"I believe in our players and I believe in our coaches," Stewart said. "I believe in Mike Sanford. I really do. I truly believe better days are ahead.
"But certainly 1-6, like I said before, it’s not who we have been. It is who we are right now. It can’t be who we will be. But I don’t believe it will. I believe we will come out of this and that we have very good days ahead."