Chuck Landon: Xs, Os, Hugs, Kisses

I would like to send some X's and O's to the X's and O's. Because I miss them. That realization suddenly dawned on me last weekend.

We have been so caught up, so transfixed and, most of all, so distracted by all the controversies that have swirled around Marshall this football season, we aren't paying enough attention to what is really important.

The games.

We aren't enjoying the games as we should. We aren't enjoying this Marshall team as we should. We aren't enjoying Marshall football as we should.

That's why I'm sending those hugs and kisses to the X's and O's.

It's my way of trying to make up for not giving them as much of my attention as they deserve. I'm just grateful those X's and O's aren't female or I'd have to send jewelry.


The bottom line is one situation after another has stolen the 2001 Herd's thunder.

First and foremost, there is the ongoing saga of Conference USA. Will Conference USA extend a membership invitation to Marshall football? Will MU leave the Mid-American Conference for this greener (Kelly, if you please) pasture?

The Conference USA situation has taken precedence over everything else.

And when we weren't discussing the C-USA ramifications, we were talking and writing about Narshall's NCAA controversy. Ever since the NCAA mandated the suspensions nearly on the eve of Marshall's opener at the University of Florida, they have held our attention.

Every week there has been a "Suspension Watch." Every week everybody wonders which Marshall players will have to sitout this game. Every week a quick inventory is conducted prior to the opening kickoff.

Then, there was the terrorist tragedy on September 11. That diverted everyone's attention. It also forced the cancellation of Marshall's game at Texas Christian.

That meant Marshall went three long weeks -- Sept 8 to Sept. 29 -- without playing a game. That only pushed football even further onto the back-burner.

Next, star wide receiver Darius Watts was charged with felony malicious wounding and misdemeanor battery. That stole even more headlines and even more air time from the team. And it promises to swipe even more.

What a shame.

Marshall has a 4-1 record, including a four-game winning streak. Quarterback Byron Leftwich is putting on an absolute show. The Herd is playing exciting, crowd-pleasing football.

And we're hardly noticing.

"Hey, the Herd won big today."

"Yeah, I know, but what's the latest on Conference USA?"

That's how the conversations are going.

Which is unfortunate, because we sure are missing a fine football team and a fun football season.

The Herd deserves better.

The Herd deserves a bigger share of the spotlight.

And I, for one, am prepared to start giving it to them. I'm ready to start writing more about Josh Davis than Mike Slive. I'd rather interview Chris Crocker than Rick Chryst. I'd rather wax poetic about "Lord Byron" than speculate on NCAA sanctions.

I am ready to fall back into love with the X's and O's.

And I'll prove it with my closing. See you on Saturday, Herd.



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