Perfect Recipe

What do you get when you mix together one team from the West, one team from the East, a live Buffalo, a live Mountaineer, a family of national television networks, and a combined four open spots on the schedule?

A two-year series between complete strangers West Virginia and Colorado. With an assist from ESPN, the Mountaineers and Buffaloes have agreed to a deal. All that's left is the signing of a contract, which at this point is nothing but a formality.

It all started when longtime Mountaineer foe Maryland asked for a two-year recess from its contract with West Virginia, leaving the blue and gold with a openings in the schedules for 2008 and 2009. Recently, North Carolina asked out of a two-year deal with Colorado, also scheduled for 2008 and 2009. When the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader In Sports" put two and two together, a cross-country series was born.

"Kudos to ESPN for putting this together," said David Plati, the longtime assistant athletic director for media relations at CU.

"(North Carolina) just asked out of the contract, which is more common than you would think in college football," he noted. "That contract was so old. When ESPN got involved, it seemed like things would work out well for both (West Virginia and Colorado)."

While the cross-country trip for both schools may not seem very feasible on the surface, Plati says that it fits in perfect with the long-term plan put in place by second-year head coach Dan Hawkins.

"We were trying to get future games in places all across the nation," he said. "Hawk wants to recruit throughout the country. I'm not saying he's going to start recruiting a bunch of players from West Virginia or Western Pennsylvania, but we'll be within a six hour drive or so of a lot of places. It's exciting."

The game in Morgantown will also allow Colorado alums all over the East an opportunity to watch their alma mater on the gridiron.

"Our alumni have little pockets in New York, Washington D.C., Boston, and other areas in the East," Plati explained. "I'm not sure what the ticket allotment or anything like that will be yet -- typically it's around 5,000 for the visiting school -- but (alumni) will be able to come watch us in Morgantown."

As for Mountaineer fans traveling to the Rockies, that won't be a problem either. As representatives from virtually every road opponent on West Virginia's recent schedules will tell you, selling out the visitor's section is never a problem when the Mountaineers come to town. According to Plati, that fits in perfectly with what Colorado has come to expect with Big XII foes at Folsom Field.

"That won't be new to us," acknowledged Plati, who has held his current role in Boulder for nearly 23 years. "It's just like playing Nebraska every year. I'm sure (West Virginia fans) are a lot like us. People will get in the car and drive somewhere just to see them play."

Presumably, this is the first meeting between the two schools in a major sport.

"If we've played them in anything, then it was something like swimming or gymnastics that I can't remember off-hand," Plati admitted.

However if things were to work out well, might there be possibilities for a continuation of the series in the future? If so, it likely would not be anytime soon. Future CU schedules include the likes of Arizona State, Cal, Florida State, Hawaii, LSU, Minnesota, Utah, and Wyoming.

"We're pretty full through 2014," Plati noted. "We've been very aggressive in our scheduling. I'll never say never (to another series with the Mountaineers), especially with the influence of network television involved, but as of right now I would say it's too early to tell if anything could be worked out in the future."

The Buffalos will sandwich the 2008 game with West Virginia between contests with Florida State and Texas.

"If that's not the death march, I don't know what is," joked Plati.

If nothing else, it fills voids in the schedules of both programs. With the hands-on approach in negotiations taken by ESPN, one can logically conclude that at least one if not both of the games will be nationally televised. And most of all, it's a new face for both programs to see. Add it all up, and the deal looks mutually beneficial for both sides.

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