The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 18, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN: Let rivalry begin again

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia, let the rivalry begin.

Forget about whatever it was that went on between West Virginia University and Marshall before. Forget about scores like 81-0 and 92-6. Forget about West Virginia’s eight victories and none for Marshall.

That was the appetizer.

We now have the main course.

John “Doc” Holliday, 52, a West Virginia University graduate and former coach and player, is running the Marshall program now.

They can start throwing the rocks – or, if you prefer, the coal.

From a WVU point of view, it’s a matter of one of ours is now one of theirs and that just won’t do.

Doc Holliday has waited a long time to get a team of his own, 52 years. He had some chances, including a shot to be named the Mountaineer coach when Rich Rodriguez jilted his school and deserted his state.

“We talked to him about it,” Ed Pastilong, the WVU athletic director, said after joking about applying for Holliday’s vacancy as assistant head coach, recruiting director and tight ends/fullbacks coach, a position that paid Holliday $394,881.69 in 2008 to the $362,637.99 his boss made, according to the State Auditor’s web page. “He got consideration for the job. I can’t say how the applicants lined up in the pecking order, but we felt he had strong qualities to be a head coach.”

In the end Bill Stewart was hired, and if you think Holliday doesn’t want to show WVU that he, too, could have done that job, well then you don’t know the competitive fire that burns in people at the top level of college athletics.

On the surface, WVU people were all saying the politically correct thing. Pastilong noted what a good friend Holliday had been and predicted he will do well.

“I only hope he has one bad day a year,” Pastilong said.

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