The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 18, 2012

Luck leading WVU through transition

MORGANTOWN — You might have said, when Oliver Luck replaced Ed Pastilong as West Virginia University’s athletic director, that there was a new sheriff in town, and that would not nearly have been as much of a cliché as it seems.

He came out of the West, from Texas, to be exact, and he came to clean up the town — or, at least, the university’s athletic department.

And since he’s been here there has been nothing but gunfight after gunfight as the landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the plains of the Big 12.

Luck came in with big ideas and was quick to incorporate them, as much a victim of circumstance as anything else, but ready and willing to take bold and swift action that forever alters athletics at WVU.

“I’ve always sort of believed, and I think this is true particularly of people who cut their teeth in competitive sports, that fortune does favor the bold,” he said. “I have always been taught as a player that you have to anticipate the throw, you have to anticipate the coverage, if you throw to the guy after he gets open it’s too late ... you have to be ahead of the curve.”

Luck, of course, is a former West Virginia quarterback.

“Most coaches would tell you sitting back and waiting for things to happen is the recipe for failure,” Luck said. “It has been a busy 21 months. I’ve tried to anticipate things that were going to happen eventually, with or without us.”

He was looking at conference change before walking in the door, noting that it really didn’t begin with Pitt and Syracuse announcing they were going to the ACC but with Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College going there a decade ago.

Change was in the wind

On the day he was introduced as athletic director he talked of conference realignment, and while everyone spoke of WVU and the ACC, Luck had his eye on the Big 12. In the question-and-answer period after he was introduced, he admitted that he had been working for a couple years on realignment.

“With all the talk of conference realignment, I think our university has a tremendous opportunity because in times of uncertainty there is also tremendous opportunity,” he said. “We’d love to see the status quo continue, but like every other university we will be smart and strategic and try to figure out if x, y and z happen, what our alternatives are.”

And one of those alternatives, if you knew then what you know now, certainly was the Big 12, for Luck had been located in the heart of its territory for some time.

“Hard to say what the University of Texas may do or not do,” he said, the conference at the time being in a state of upheaval. “I’d love to see them try to rebuild the Big 12 and maintain that status as best they possibly could.”

The realignment talk began long before Luck was ever mentioned as a candidate to take Pastilong’s place.

“I remember when we (the board of governors, on which he served for two years) interviewed Jim (Clements) for the president position. Much of the talk was about conference realignment and how important athletics is to WVU and how we can’t wake up one morning and find ourselves in a second-tier conference playing second-tier teams,” Luck recalled.

“It’s been something on my mind for the two years of the board of governors, so this was nothing new.”

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