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The future of the Coal Bowl explained

Written by Colin Dunlap on .

There has been speculation about the future of the West Virginia-Marshall football rivalry, and some conflicting reports on what will happen in the future with the game.

Here is what we can all agree on:

* The seven-year contract expires with the 2012 game.

* West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin told a gathering at a brunch on Friday before the West Virginia-Marshall game that night in Huntington that the series will continue.

OK, that is how much is fact at this point.

But I think I've got some things pinned down about what will be announced in the future; about what Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick and West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck have kind-of, sort-of agreed to.

Here are the conflicting reports from Friday:

First, Chuck Landon of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch reported in a piece on the web that, "WVU will host four of the next six games with two of the Marshall-WVU games being played in Huntington. Overall, six of the games are expected to be played at WVU with four at Marshall."

I am told by a source within the West Virginia athletic department that this is "absolutely not going to happen." A quick count of the games Mr. Landon reports would have you arrive at 10. Again, I am told by someone within the WVU athletic department -- who has working knowledge of the negotiations -- that the agreement right now, even as most of the particulars are still being worked out, "is absolutely not and will absolutely not be for 10 games."

Now, let us visit something else written Friday, it is by Jack Bogaczyk on the website of the Charleston Daily Mail.

In his piece, Mr. Bogaczyk writes, "One source said the series could continue with five games from 2014 through 2020. Another source said five games would be played from 2014 through 2022. Multiple sources said Marshall would play a third game at Mountaineer Field in a five-game series, if the series goes home-and-home before that game. Sources said no future WVU-Marshall series longer than five games was seriously on the table.

As you can see, Mr. Bogaczyk reports the future of the series involves an agreement whereupon five games will be the number played in the arrangement, not 10.

When I asked the person -- who, again, has working knowledge of the negotiations -- if the parties were working on a five-game deal, if there was validity to Mr. Bogaczyk's report, I was met with this response:

"Jack is dead on it."

So, I think that should settle things. Seems to me, when this contract is signed for an extension of the series (and no one knows when that will happen) it will be for five games, not 10.

Also, pay attention to something in all of this --- how the addition of Villanova to the Big East, if that happens, the implosion of the Big East in its current form and/or West Virginia moving to another conference, impacts the future series with Marshall. A provision could be written into the contract for one, or all, of those situations. 

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