Marshall, West Virginia Agree To Football Series

The rivalry that brings 12,000-plus to the Charleston Civic Center every year to watch basketball between MU and WVU will be on in football for the first time since 1997, and only the sixth time all-time. Governor Joe Manchin brought Marshall University and West Virginia University Presidents, Head Coaches and Directors of Athletics to the State Capitol Tuesday to announce the renewal of a series between the Thundering Herd and Mountaineers in football.

The seven game contract will mean West Virginia will travel to Huntington to play Marshall in football in 2007 for the first time since 1915 and only the second time ever.The series will include a 2-for-1 setup to begin: playing in Morgantown at Mountaineer Field in 2006, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington in 2007, and back to Mountaineer Field in 2008. The 2009 game will take place at the home of the school that wins two of the first three games in the renewed series. 2010 will be at Marshall, while 2011 and 2012 will be at West Virginia.

Governor Joe Manchin, a graduate of WVU, had this about the resumption of the rivalry in football. "Thanks for coming, it's a great day to be a West Virginian. I truly believe in my heart that this deal that we now have in place will take its rightful place among the great in-state rivalries," said Manchin. "I truly believe it will be a game for all of America, not just West Virginia. This is an unprecedented day in West Virginia history. I said in the campaign for governor it was important WVU and MU meet. Thanks to NCAA for giving us the 12th game. Thanks to (former Marshall coach) Bob Pruett, who did not let a day went by he wasn't in my ear. Thanks to West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, too," said Manchin, who also saluted new MU coach Mark Snyder. "Don't look for partisan politics, because this game will be best time you every had in WV…legally. No matter which side you are on, let's get behind this."

West Virginia governor Joe Manchin (center) signs the contract between Marshall and WVU in a Tuesday ceremony at the capitol in Charleston.

The 2009 match up is a unique situation. The winner of two of the first three games will get to claim the home field advantage for the fourth contest, unprecedented in NCAA Division I-A football. Rodriguez admits it's unique, but says it's more of an excitement generator for fans than for the team. "From a fan's standpoint, there'll be a little extra juice added, but as far as coaches and players you're always going to play as hard as you can to win every game," said Rodriguez. The WVU coach is a former Mountaineer football letterman from 1982-84, appearing in three bowls as a starting defensive back including: the Gator (1982), Hall of Fame (1983) and Bluebonnet (1984) bowls. He has been head coach since 2001, replacing his college coach and the former WVU head coach in Don Nehlen, who coached the Mountaineers in the 1997 game against Pruett's Herd.

Marshall's Snyder, hired in April of this year from his job as Defensive Coordinator at The Ohio State University following the March retirement of Pruett, likes the idea of making a determination of the site on the field. "I think it's unique. I think there's a little pot of gold out there for the fourth game. It will be interesting what take the rest of the country has on it." Snyder was a starter in the defensive backfield (MU and Southern Conference record 10 interceptions) for the Thundering Herd, helping lead the Herd to the 1987 National Championship game in NCAA I-AA football, and was excited about the series when introduced. "What a great day for Marshall University and the Herd nation," said Snyder. "Rivalries usually come at the second to last weekend of November," said the former Buckeye assistant, remembering past Ohio State-Michigan match-ups. "Now Sept 2, 2006, MU plays WVU!" Snyder then noted the Herd's former head coach. "Thanks to Bob Pruett, you made this thing happen."

Marshall Director of Athletics Bob "Kayo" Marcum, a 1959 graduate of Marshall and former Thundering Herd football player, told about how Governor Manchin facilitated the series. Manchin did step in, inviting the athletic directors of both schools to Charleston on Friday and almost literally locking them in a room at the Governor's Mansion and not allowing them out until something was done. "They had all the coffee and water you wanted," said Marcum, "but if you stopped talking, they stopped bringing the water. We started with breakfast, we worked through lunch, we were headed into supper, but we got it done." Manchin also joked that he had beds ready for the two groups if they were needed for the night last Friday. Bad blood had thwarted other efforts to bring the two sides to an agreement in recent years. Past bickering over who was to blame for the breaking of what was said to be a verbal agreement to play three more games after the 1997 contest, all in Morgantown, that existed between Dr. J. Wade Gilley, President of Marshall (1991-1999) and former AD Lance West (1995-2002) of Marshall and the WVU administration, left hard feelings on both sides.

West Virginia Director of Athletics Ed Pastilong, a 1966 graduate of West Virginia and a former quarterbacks for the Mountaineers, said it was not all bad over the past years in discussions about renewing the series. "It's really been a pleasure this past year to disagree with Kayo every day for the last two years," said Pastilong. "We are two people who have such passion for our state, and who brought this game together. I am very proud of what we have accomplished with our football team and hope both have a great fall. We look forward to (the game)."

Signing deal this morning guarantee teams will play seven years. Here are the Marshall football future schedules, through 2013 (MU-WVU in bold), with all times TBA:

Sept 2 at WVU
Sept. 9 at Kansas State
Sept. 16 TBA
Sept. 23 at Tennessee
Conference USA Games(dates TBA)
at Southern Mississippi
at East Carolina
at SMU
at UAB

Sept. 1 at Miami, Fla.
Sept. 8 WVU
Sept. 15 at Wisconsin

Sept. 13 at WVU

Sept. 5 Tennessee
Sept. 12 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 3 WVU @ TBA (at winner of first two-of-three in 2006-07-08)

Sept. 4 at Tennessee
Sept. 11 WVU

Sept. 3 at WVU
Sept.10 Miami, Fla.
Sept. 24 Virginia Tech

Sept. 1 at WVU
Sept. 22 at Miami, Fla.

Sept. 21 at Virginia Tech

The contract includes the following points:
1) Officials appointed by home team's conference.
2) Payouts to visitors are $150,000 2006-07-10-11; $200,000 in 2008; and $250,000 if at WVU or 200,000 if at MU in 2009.
3) 5,000 tickets for visitors; schools have been asked by Governor Manchin to not raise ticket price over normal increase for "premium" game, like Marshall game with Kansas State in 2005.
4)Home team can negotiate TV rights and authorize live broadcasts as they see fit. Rights fees distributed according to existing or future agreements between the Big East and Conference USA.

All-time series between MU & WVU:
October 28, 1911, in Morgantown. 17-15, WVU. College Football and MU Athletic HOF QB Cy Young nearly leads Marshall to victory over 6-3 WVU in first year of full college-level schedule for Herd, who finished 5-1-1.
October 3, 1914, in Morgantown. 20-0, WVU. Opening game for teams in meeting of teams who end season with both at 5-4, under WVU's Sol Metzger and Marshall's Boyd "Fox" Chambers.
November 6, 1915, in Huntington. 92-6, WVU. Mountaineers' only loss is to national championship contender Penn and WVU was expected to shutout Marshall (who would end up 1-7), but trick play, the "Tower Pass," wins money for smart Huntington bettors. Herd back Dayton "Runt" Carter climbs on shoulders of lineman Okey "Blondie" Taylor in end zone and Marshall QB Brad Workman throws him pass for touchdown. Metzger is furious, but loses protest to "Father of Football Rules," former Yale coach Walter Camp, and "Fox" Chambers uses the play again versus Ohio in next game, before "Tower Pass" is outlawed for 1916 season by Camp.
October 20, 1923, in Morgantown. 81-0, WVU. Mountaineers, 7-1-1 this season, outscore opponents 297-41, trouncing a 1-7 Herd team, who hired former Marshall Normal School grad Russ Meredith off '23 WVU team to coach Herd to 4-4 mark in 1924 and initial WVIAC title with 4-1-4 Marshall team in 1925, tying MU mark for ties.
August 30, 1997, Mountaineer Field in Morgantown. 42-31, WVU. Marshall's first game in I-A since 1981 starts with Herd in 28-0 hole (including blocked punt returned for score). Chad Pennington, now with the New York Jets, rallies for 31-28 MU lead with two touchdowns to Randy Moss, now with the Oakland Raiders. Two late interceptions, however, allow Marc Bulger, now of St. Louis Rams, to bring Mountaineers back for win in front of sellout crowd of over 65,000.

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