As a Marshall fan, I am elated.

Marshall, WVU to renew gridiron rivalry in 2006


CHARLESTON - The drive to revive a football game between West Virginia and Marshall universities crossed the goal line this morning.

Gov. Joe Manchin announced a seven-game series between the state's only Division I-A college gridiron programs in a 10:30 a.m. press conference at the state Capitol.
"This is an unprecedented day in West Virginia sports history," Manchin said, flanked by both schools' presidents, athletic directors and head coaches. "The two schools will play each other in football for at least the next seven years."

The first game will be played in 2006 in Morgantown, followed by a 2007 contest in Huntington. In 2008, the Thundering Herd will again travel to Morgantown.

The site of the 2009 game will be determined by those first three contests - whichever team wins two out of three games will play host for the fourth match-up.

In 2010, the Mountaineers will return to Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which claims a capacity of 38, 016. The 2011 and 2012 contests will be played at WVU's Puskar Stadium, which lists a capacity of 63,500 although it has seen several crowds in excess of that figure.

The visiting team will be guaranteed a minimum of $150,000 for the 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 games. Marshall will be guaranteed $200,000 for the 2008 game and $250,000 in 2012.

The payoff for the 2009 game will depend on where it is played - West Virginia would receive $200,000 for traveling to Huntington, while Marshall would get $250,000 if it goes to Morgantown.

Manchin, who made the series one of his gubernatorial campaign platforms, said he believes the game will take its place among the great intrastate rivalries like Auburn-Alabama, Michigan-Michigan State and Iowa-Iowa State.

"I truly believe it will be a game for all of America, not just West Virginia," he said.

The teams last played in Morgantown in 1997, with WVU defeating Marshall 42-31 in the Thundering Herd's return to Division I-A football. The 2007 game in Huntington will be the Mountaineers' first trip there since 1915, when they won a lop-sided decision, 92-6.

"It's really been a pleasure this past year disagreeing with Kayo Marcum every day," he laughed.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on April 13 broke the story that an announcement of a WVU-Marshall series was imminent, quoting recently retired Thundering Herd Coach Bob Pruett as saying the much-anticipated series was going to happen.

WVU's play-by-play announcer, Tony Caridi, was the guest speaker for Monday's noon meeting of the Parkersburg Rotary Club.

"Word of a WVU-Marshall football series is breaking right now,'' Caridi told those who had come to hear him talk about Mountaineer athletics.

Ever since the NCAA approved allowing its member schools to play 12 football games a year beginning in 2006, speculation has swirled around an annual WVU-Marshall match-up.

The series was supposed to have continued in 1998, but the two schools didn't have a signed contract for the game and it never materialized.

"The last time we entered into an agreement, all four games were to be played in Morgantown,'' Pastilong said. "We played one and the remaining three were never played.''