The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 7, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: Luck stunned by lack of NCAA rule regarding weather

MORGANTOWN — Blue skies smilin’ at me

Nothin’ but blue skies do I see

Bluebirds singin’ a song

Nothin’ but bluebirds all day long

— Blue Skies, written by Irvin Berlin

MORGANTOWN — Just figured it was time for a reminder that someday the skies will be blue again and the sun will shine.

Not yesterday, of course, and certainly not Sunday, when West Virginia University’s football game with Marshall was halted just as the third quarter turned into the fourth, an endless barrage of lightning bolts forcing play to end for the sake of safety ... and linebackers, guards, tackles and running backs.

It is now Wednesday and it hasn’t stopped raining yet, and the last time I looked at Stephanie Abrams in the morning on The Weather Channel it appeared it might not for some time.

Which leads us to wonder just what in the world went on down there in the bowels of the Puskar Center as the fate of the Friends of Coal Bowl was decided off the field, not on it.

But first, this to help make your day a little brighter.

Oh, it ain’t gonna rain no more, no more

It ain’t gonna rain no more

How in the heck can I wash around my neck

if it ain’t gonna rain no more

— It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, written by Wendell Woods Hall

Now back to the events of Sunday night ...

BULLETIN: Let us interrupt this for a moment by saying the entire debacle could have been avoided by playing on Saturday, as college football is supposed to be played, and giving up some of the TV swag, but the new way of doing things is to play whenever the networks want and to call a stadium in Washington, D.C., the home field. Now, back to your regularly scheduled column ...

This is a shocker, so much so that Oliver Luck, the WVU athletic director, admits he was stunned by it when he went to discuss the game situation with officials and Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick.

“It was news to me, there is no NCAA rule on how much game needs to be played to have a complete game,” Luck told 93.7, The Fan, in Pittsburgh during a Labor Day interview.

Run that through your mind for a moment. A team kicks off; the opposing team fumbles on the 1 and loses the ball. The opponent scores on the next play. Twenty seconds have run off the clock.


Lightning. The weather worsens, the report is bad, they call the game and the team with a 6-0 lead claims victory.

Never happen, you say. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty.

So, let us first pronounce the NCAA has got to define a complete game in its rule book, just as baseball has in its rules.

“With no NCAA rule it means that the A.D.s of both schools have to agree on a completion of the game,” Luck said.

Yeah, right, you can’t get the A.D.s from West Virginia and Marshall to agree it’s raining out, let alone to allowing the other team to walk away with a victory in a non-completed game.

As you can guess, this was a mess, one that needed something to brighten the day ... and here is that something.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

My, oh my what a wonderful day!

Plenty of sunshine heading my way

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

— Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, written by Allie Wrubel and Gilbert Ray

The athletic directors chatted amiably, according to Luck, although there were some shaky moments.

“In sports, the scoreboard matters,” Luck said.

BULLETIN: Oliver Luck admits the scoreboard matters. Probably puts it right below the bottom line on the budget sheet. Now, back to your regularly scheduled column ...

“There were no long, drawn-out, hostile discussions,” he said. “We both signed a document that based on the forecast, discussion with our league and the medical people, the smartest thing to do was to call the game with the final score being the final score.”

And so it was that another bizarre chapter has been added to the non-rivalry that is Marshall vs. West Virginia, a game that was doomed since its inception and that probably can’t survive past next year’s final scheduled meeting.

If, somehow, they do figure out a way to keep the series going, there’s only one song to sing:

Raindrops keep falling on my head

And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed

Nothin’ seems to fit

Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

— Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, written by Burt Bacharach

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