Musings of a Mountain Man: September 1, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings of a Mountain Man: September 1, 2011

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© West Virginia Illustrated © West Virginia Illustrated
September 1, 2011 -

MORGANTOWN -- It sometimes doesn't appear so during a WVU athletic event, but generally speaking, we denizens of the Mountaineer Nation are an easygoing, friendly, peaceful, giving bunch -- full-fledged charter members of the human league.

  If one of our neighbors is in a jam, we are there to help. If we see someone stranded on the road, we will stop to lend a hand, or at least call 9-1-1. If relatives or friends show up in our town, hey, come stay at our place, even if one of us has to sleep in a bathtub.
 A lot of us don't have all that much, but we'll give you half of it if we think you need it more. We tend to give what we can to charities, to tithe if we can at our place of worship and to slip a dollar to a couple of local kids for a dime's worth of barely drinkable lemonade. We habitually buy enough Girl Scout cookies each year to require shots of insulin.
 We can be generous, all right, but also we are nobody's fools. We tend to be gifted with well-developed fertilizer detectors that sooner than later go off in the presence of a flim-flam. We have our limits and when you cross them the goodwill and altruism go out the proverbial window.

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 WHICH BRINGS US to the WVU-Marshall football series, in which WVU has done most of the giving and Marshall has done most of the getting.
 If getting on the last collective nerve of Mountaineers far and wide was their goal, the Marshall program and Gang Green fans have accomplished that and did so early throughout this unhappy process.
 To start, their suggestions that this series has provided equal value to both programs are loaded with more bull than you could pile up on our cousin Bobby's farm in Greenbrier County. Take our word for it, that's a lot of bull.
 The opinion here is that the series has provided much more benefit to Marshall than it has for WVU.
 The aid the series has given the Marshall football program financially, politically and in prestige is obvious. We ask, however, what has it done in those areas for WVU?

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 TO US, THE ANSWER IS NOTHING
 For instance:
 *Financially, we fail to see evidence that the Marshall series has added anything more than would five home games and two away games with other opponents. It could be argued that the five home games is a financial plus, but it's hard to claim that Marshall attracts more spectators than another team when statistics show otherwise.
 In 2009 -- the last year the Thundering Herd were in Morgantown -- the Marshall game had the smallest crowd of any home game WVU played that season. Where was the financial bonus in that?
 *Politically, the series has been a loss for WVU from the beginning. It is, in fact, a political creation that likely  would not have happened without arm-twisting by West Virginia's monolithic political force, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. Why then-Governor Manchin force-fed the Marshall series on WVU is a subject for debate, but it is safe to say he was the one who made it happen and WVU got dragged along without much say in the matter.
 *Prestige-wise, Marshall is the only team that stands to gain in the series. If the Herd beat the Mountaineers in a game, it would go down as a significant win for them, a headline-grabbing upset and an embarrassment for WVU. When WVU beats Marshall, as it has five time in a row by a combined 165-64 score, there is a ho-hum response because the Mountaineers are supposed to win and the only real news would be if they lost.
 Even if the series was providing something closer to the same value for WVU as it does Marshall, at this point we should be against continuation of it past 2012's game because of the ill will it has engendered due to the way the Marshall program conducted itself before the series was initiated and after.

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 WE DIDN'T ALWAYS FEEL ANTAGONISTIC
toward Marshall. There was a time when many a WVU fan would not have minded playing Marshall in a football series. For years, it was a sympathetic program that literally had risen from the ashes and West Virginians everywhere reveled in the success.
 We think it safe to say that most WVU fans pulled for Marshall back when it was making appearances in Division I-AA championship games. Most of us were happy when the Marshall kicker made a title-winning field goal against Youngstown State and we were at least a little disappointed when it lost title games to Youngstown, Montana and Northeast Louisiana.
 We had no problem cheering when guys like George Stone, Bob Redd, Randy Noll and Dan and Mike D'Antoni of Mullens led Marshall to the NCAA and National Invitational basketball tournaments back when the NCAA tournament was harder to get into and the NIT was the real deal and not the consolation tournament that it is today.

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 BUT THAT WAS BEFORE A CADRE of Marshall athletic administrators, a few agendized members of the state sports press and a significant part of the Herd fan base that believes Marshall gets the stepchild treatment embarked on a steady stream of drum-beating about how Marshall was equal to or better than WVU as a football program.
 Their heads seemingly swelled by the Herd's newfound football success, they began agitating for a spot on WVU's schedule and the prospect of playing a series here and there hasn't been enough love for these people. They want a home and home series and have for years.
 No doubt emboldened by the seven-game series wheedled through Manchin, they have continued in this quest with what today looks to be a silly, make that supercilious, belief that if they kick up enough dust and direct enough vitriol WVU's way they somehow can make the Mountaineer brass go against the program's better interests and keep playing Marshall.

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AS THE SERIES WINDS DOWN with the sixth game just days away, we cheer WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck's apparent reluctance to continue the series and applaud that Manchin -- soon up for re-election -- gives hints that he will stay out of Mountaineer football decisions this time around.
 This is not good news for the keepers of Marshall's scheduling dreams, some of whose indignity we trust will reach such a level over perceived slights that you'd think someone at WVU put a Herd booster's cat in a freaking microwave.
 We don't know exactly how this will pan out, but we suspect that the 2013 WVU schedule will not have a Marshall game on it.
 We also suspect that Marshall will go out with more of a whimper than a shout after WVU blows them out this year and next in Morgantown.
 All of these things happening would please us immensely. When it comes to Marshall, we are not very charitable.
 In Marshall's case, WVU should not giveth, but taketh away.

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