"Just keep pounding the rock, doing what you know is right, not what you think is right," Stewart said.
Stewart acknowledged that as he prepared for West Virginia's bowl game a year ago, he wasn't thinking about being the permanent replacement for Michigan-bound Rodriguez.
"I wasn't going to be the head coach," Stewart said.
But then the Mountaineers upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia removed the interim tag the next day, even though the 56-year-old Stewart's head coaching experience consisted of going 8-25 in three seasons at VMI.
Less than a year later, Stewart will coach the Mountaineers in their seventh straight bowl appearance in what will mark the end of an era. The dynamic White, the NCAA's all-time leader in rushing for quarterbacks with 4,425 yards, will try to finish 4-0 in bowls.
"I just want to enjoy my last game with my teammates," White said. "I'm not worried about four bowl wins or whatever. It's just my last game as a Mountaineer and I want to enjoy it."
There are no questions about qualifications on the North Carolina sideline. Butch Davis and his thick, impressive resume from college and the NFL engineered one of the nation's biggest turnarounds. After going 4-8 in his first season in 2007, North Carolina started 7-2 before a rash of injuries led to losses in two of its last three games to end any BCS bowl hopes.
"When you take a look at the teams that have played for the national championship in the last couple of seasons -- the LSUs, the Oklahomas, the Southern Cals, the Floridas, they weren't programs that were built overnight. It didn't happen in 18 months," Davis said. "It's year after year, solid recruiting classes, so that what happened to us this year doesn't happen in future years.
"Being 7-2, being on track, playing good, and you lose 10 or 12 kids that are injured for the whole season. Now, all of a sudden, that's where depth comes in."
Quarterback T.J. Yates is back after missing five games with a broken ankle, and may get his last chance to throw to Atlantic Coast Conference receiving leader Hakeem Nicks.
The junior, who has caught 60 passes for a school-record 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns this season, is contemplating turning pro. Davis said he's talked to some NFL teams and will discuss it with Nicks a few days after the bowl.
"He'll definitely play a big role in my decision," Nicks said of Davis. "As of right now, I'm still a Tar Heel. I just want to go out there and play this game first."
North Carolina is in a bowl game for the first time since a loss to Boston College here in 2004. For the Tar Heels to win their first postseason game since 2001, they'll have to prevent a dominating game from White, who has accounted for 100 touchdowns in his career -- 53 passing and 47 rushing
"It's been very difficult this last month watching him practice. The last home game was pretty tough," Stewart said. "This is, without a doubt, in my opinion, the greatest winner to ever come through West Virginia University. Is he the greatest player? I don't know. I'll leave that up to the critics. But I know he's the greatest winner."
Stewart hopes to be a winner at West Virginia, too. The New Martinsville, W.Va., native has a chance Saturday to go to 2-0 in bowls, following up last season's improbable win that helped him get his dream job.
"That was a great year, that was a great bowl win," Stewart said. "But this is now."