Joe Manchin is not a happy governor.

It isn't because he faces impending knee replacement surgery, either.

West Virginia's chief executive isn't pleased that the upcoming football game between West Virginia University and Marshall on Sept. 2 in Morgantown hasn't been scheduled for national television.

That's why Manchin still is working behind the scenes with ESPN in hopes of securing a national telecast.

"Oh, no, I haven't given up on this," said Manchin, after appearing at a press conference Wednesday announcing that the Friends of Coal were going to sponsor the WVU-MU game as the Friends of Coal Bowl.

"When you look at our economic development, we couldn't buy the kind of exposure that a national telecast would give our state. The job of any governor is to raise the economic opportunities. I think this game will do that. WVU and Marshall is a natural."

The intra-state rivalry also is a natural for national television. WVU officials don't seem to believe that, but Manchin certainly does.

"I understand that playing the early game on Sunday (1 p.m. on Sept. 3) would have created a hardship for people who attend church," said Manchin. "And playing the late game (8 p.m.) Sunday wouldn't have been a good situation for fans driving home.

"As for Friday night (a proposed prime-time telecast on Sept. 1), I understand the hardship it would place on our secondary schools who are playing football games that night.

"But I thought the afternoon time slot on Sunday (4:30 p.m.) was a great fit. It would have appeased the church crowd. The game would have ended with it still being daylight. And it wouldn't have been such a late night for fans driving home.

"I don't know why that afternoon time slot didn't happen."

Well, I do know. It's because WVU officials didn't want to play the game then. In fact, the Mountaineers don't want this game on national television at all.

Manchin does, however. And there's the rub. As WVU learned the hard way when it balked at even playing Marshall, the governor doesn't take no for an answer.

And he wants WVU-MU on national television.

"I'm talking to ESPN about trying to televise the game on Saturday," said Manchin of the original Sept. 2 date. "I'm hoping we can work something out."

It appears the best bet for Saturday is ESPN Classic, which means WVU would receive no revenue from the sports network. The Friday night prime-time slot isn't being considered.

As for Sunday, the 4:30 p.m. slot has been filled with Memphis vs. Ole Miss and the 8 p.m. niche has been filled by the Bluegrass battle between Louisville and Kentucky.

It didn't have to be that way, however.

If WVU had agreed in the beginning, the state of West Virginia would have been showcased on national television on Sept. 3.

What do you want to bet Manchin doesn't let this television snafu occur again?

"I'm going to do everything I can to support this," he said, "and make sure the whole country knows about this game."

Manchin wants WVU-MU on national television every year.

And, remember, the governor has a way of getting what he wants.



o o o o o o



Few people have a quicker wit than Marshall Athletic Director Bob "Kayo" Marcum.

He flashed his shootin' from the quip style during the Friends of Coal press conference Wednesday at Embassy Suites.

When Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, joked that he allowed WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong to speak first at the dais "because WVU is the home team," Marcum had a rapier response.

"Yeah," he said, "and they control the TV."

Recommended for you