The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 9, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- With ‘Luck,’ rivalries can be renewed

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia has renewed its rivalry series with Virginia Tech, albeit only on a two-year basis and not until 2021, but that may be the first step in setting up a very creative way of keeping all the Mountaineers’ football rivalries intact.

Athletic Director Oliver Luck, who with Tech A.D. Jim Weaver put those games together, admits he talked just recently with Pitt about finding a way for the Backyard Brawl rivals to get together, even though WVU now resides in the Big 12 and Pitt in the ACC — and isn’t that hard to say for both schools.

Nothing near completed on this, but then the date of any games may be in the future.

Then this past week in the Harrisburg Patriot-News it was revealed that Penn State is looking to add some national appeal to its football schedule and it has been reported by Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com that the Mountaineers are working on a potential agreement with Penn State.

They used to play on a yearly basis, of course, with Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions dominating, but it would be a great legacy for Luck if he could put these two back together, especially with his emphasis on local rivalries.

Here’s the deal though.

WVU already has Maryland as a local rival and an important one, a game that allows them to play games either at Maryland or a neutral field in Baltimore, which has become a key recruiting area, is easy to get to from Morgantown and easier for alumni from the Eastern part of the state.

However, playing nine Big 12 games leaves you only three non-conference games, which makes numerically impossible and a huge burden on your final record to try to play Pitt, Penn State, Maryland and Virginia Tech in the same season.

Besides, it’s crucial for a team these days to have a money game, such as this year when they face both Georgia State and William & Mary, teams that take a guarantee to give them a softer game than a conference game to work out the kinks early in the season.

But what if Luck could arrange something where WVU plays Maryland every year, a softer school every year with the third game alternating between Virginia Tech, Pitt and Penn State every two years?

Who knows, might even be able to work a network deal to carry that particular game on a yearly basis, which would make it even more valuable.

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