WVU Football: Is the Marshall Game Really a Rivalry?

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIAugust 29, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 25: A student supporter of the West Virginia Mountaineers holds up a sign during the 2011 Backyard Brawl against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers on November 25, 2011 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There's always the thought of whether The Friends of Coal Bowl is truly a rivalry between the Marshall Thundering Herd and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The game is usually one-sided, as WVU has never lost to Marshall.  Throughout the series, there has been a massive comeback, lightning and a game that seemed to last forever before being called last year.

The first game of the series was played in 2006 at Mountaineer Field.  The Mountaineers dominated throughout the day and won 42-10.

While this game is an in-state tradition, is it considered a rivalry such as the one WV had with Pitt or any of the other Big East Conference schools?

The winner of the game is awarded The Governor's Trophy. 

Prior to 2006, politics and hard feelings were are that was needed to keep the two in-state teams at it.  The two teams played only five times prior to 2006.

Following 2006, WVU has won 48-23 in 2007, 27-3 in 2008, 24-7 in 2009, 24-21 in 2010 and 34-13 in 2011.

Overall, West Virginia is 11-0 in the series.

The 2010 contest was certainly the biggest scare for the Mountaineers.  At Huntington, West Virginia fell apart in the first half, needing a remarkable comeback from quarterback Geno Smith and company to eventually win it.

WVU faced a 21-6 fourth-quarter deficit. Under Smith's leadership, the Mountaineers made the plays they needed to go to overtime. Marshall would lose by three after its kicker missed a 39-yard field goal attempt. 

Besides the 2010 fiasco, the Mountaineers really haven't been threatened by the Thundering Herd since the in-state rivalry renewed in 2006. 

What is the future for the rivalry?  The in-state tradition may continue for some time as both schools are committed to this game, as is the state.

While WVU is certainly the bigger school in population boasting a nationally ranked football team, Marshall is looked at as a weak non-conference game by some fans.

So, the question remains:  Is The Friends of Coal Bowl a true rivalry?