It has been just over one year since Oliver Luck assumed his position as athletic director at West Virginia University.
When president Jim Clements announced Luck as the AD, he stated that Luck would be eased into his new duties at WVU while finishing his responsibilities at his former position with the Houston Dynamo. Luck had been president of the Dynamo since 2005.
Clements compared Luck’s first six months in Morgantown to a NASCAR rolling start.
At first, that analogy was laughed at and seemed improper for an athletic director assuming his new duties. A year later, it seems that maybe Clements should have compared Luck’s start with a space shuttle launch.
Few, if any, athletic directors have done more in their first year to change the landscape of the athletic department they preside over.
Coaching changes in multiple sports, a complete reformation of the game day experience at Milan Puskar stadium, studies into the feasibility of renovations at Milan Puskar stadium, adjustments to future schedules in multiple sports, and the list goes on.
It seems a month never goes by that Luck does not announce another major overhaul in Morgantown.
Had Mountaineer Nation taken a closer look in the beginning, the proverbial writing was on the wall. After all, Luck is the same man that tried to introduce NFL football in Europe where soccer is king, and then came back to the United States and did his best to improve the sport of soccer in a country where the NFL is king.
Neither endeavor is for the faint of heart, or for an individual who questions their abilities.
That has not stopped many questioning Luck’s vision of the future of WVU.
Luck most recently proposed that WVU move their home game in 2012 with James Madison University from Morgantown to FedEx field in Landover, Maryland. FedEx field is home to the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
The proposal has received mixed reviews in the Mountain State.
The side any Mountaineers fan chooses to take in this debate will not matter; apparently, the die has been cast. Future games at NFL venues are now part of the Mountaineer landscape.
Along with the proposed move of the JMU contest came the announcement that WVU had finalized their football schedule through the 2014 season.
While mentioned in the announcement, it can be easily concluded that the Coal Bowl matchup between Marshall and WVU will end. Marshall does not appear on the Mountaineers’ 2013 or 2014 schedules.
As it stands, the 2012 Coal Bowl will be the last in the series.
Much to the chagrin of Herald-Dispatch columnist Chuck Landon: no doubt, Landon represents the majority view from Marshall Fans.
The irony is that approximately twenty years ago, WVU was in the same position that Marshall finds itself today. Penn State had chosen to forgo their series with the Mountaineers.
Leading up to this decision, members of the WVU press were less than objective towards the decision. Penn State dominated the series with WVU in football—a series that WVU considered a rivalry and Penn State did not.
Over the years, the debate about the Penn State series has come and gone several times, as is certain to be the case with the Marshall series.
In retrospect, the negative approach taken by members of the West Virginia media of the time did nothing but help secure the outcome.
I have often wondered if a different approach for those members of the Mountaineer media would have resulted in a different outcome in the series with Penn State, just as loyal Marshall fans should be asking themselves right about now.
Penn State’s decision to drop the Mountaineers was nothing more than a business decision, and a decision that has been good for both schools.
Luck was hired at WVU to make the hard choices, popular or not, a directive for which Luck has shown a great propensity.
Ironically, Marshall with Landon as their spokesperson may have made the decision about the Marshall series an easy one for Luck.
I hope Marshall Fans realize that Landon may have done them a great disservice.
Certainly, Landon, and the Marshall faithful, are entitled to their opinions on the future of the series. Animosity from both is to be expected.
Marshall backed out of scheduled football games in 1998 and 1999. At the time there were no future games scheduled between the two schools.
Where were Marshall’s ideals for the series then?
Just as it was Marshall’s prerogative to forgo the series in the late 90's, Luck is entitled to forgo the series now.
Luck is entitled to his opinion regarding the series, too.