High School Football

WVU-Marshall not dead yet, but may need a buzzer-beater

West Virginia and Marshall tip-off last month’s Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hopes for a 2016 Capital Classic aren’t dead, at least not from the Marshall side, which wants to continue the series and publicly stated so again Thursday.

West Virginia hasn’t finalized its nonconference slate for next season, so playing dates remain open, though the folks in the Mountaineers athletics department are treating the issue as a nuisance.

Then there’s Mike Woelfel’s still-to-be-drafted state Senate bill, a halfcourt desperation heave from the Capitol rotunda that ultimately might be the necessary leverage to keep West Virginia and Marshall playing.

Regarding the proposed legislation, one reader asked “What’s the penalty for not playing?” That’s a reasonable question and one entirely unanswerable at this juncture considering the bill doesn’t yet exist. It must be crafted and steered through committee before reaching the Senate floor. Will it have enough teeth to compel WVU to play five-on-five vs. The Herd each year?

The series is not as momentous and influential as painted by some; nor so meaningless and annoying as a faction of Mountaineers fans want to portray it. The game typically draws a near-capacity crowd to Charleston, even during December when college basketball remains in semi-hibernation.

Sponsorship promotion dollars, and statewide television affiliates could once again produce revenue if the schools decide not to give the game away to ESPNU.

The drab Charleston Civic Center, which lacks video screens and typical college basketball amenities, is not the overriding issue. If it was, West Virginia wouldn’t use the venue for games against other teams like James Madison and William & Mary.

The issue, it seems, is WVU doesn’t want to play Marshall. And it doesn’t have to, though it should. West Virginia-Marshall is a tastier dish than WVU-Northern Kentucky, WVU-Loyola or WVU-Radford.

“We’ve tried to get a date and cannot get one from them,” Marshall athletics director Mike Hamrick told MetroNews on Thursday. “All indications I’m getting is they do not want to play. We do. I just don’t understand why we wouldn’t play.”

Football scheduling is a trickier issue, especially with WVU having only three nonconference dates, so it’s understandable why the teams aren’t playing. In basketball, with 13 nonleague games needing to be filled, many of them mismatches that lack any semblance of a storyline, West Virginia and Marshall should be arranging a game somewhere each year, whether it’s Charleston or Morgantown.

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