The present contract doesn't conclude until the 2012 campaign, but time is running out on whether or not the Friends of Coal Bowl series between West Virginia University and Marshall University continues beyond that point.
"Both schools are holding dates," WVU Athletics Director Ed Pastilong explained prior to the beginning of Saturday's fourth football meeting between the Mountain State's two major universities.
"But, at some point, we need to address those dates. We need to relatively soon bring closure to this."
WVU's stance - and it has been the same stance since the present contract was signed prior to the beginning of the 2006 campaign - has been a 2-for-1 deal with the Thundering Herd playing in Morgantown twice for every one time West Virginia travels to Huntington.
"We haven't changed," said Pastilong. "Our contentions have always centered around the fact that we are a self-sustaining athletic program and we must have seven home football games a year to pay our bills."
A feeling not echoed by first-year Marshall University Athletics Director Mike Hamrick. The two have met once to this point face-to-face and have made several phone calls to one another. But, the newest leader of the Thundering Herd's athletic program doesn't appear prepared to budge from his hard-line stance for a 1-for-1 exchange with WVU.
"I've known Mike for a long time," Pastilong said. "I've known Mike's dad (former WVSSAC director Jim Hamrick) for a long time. We've been buddies for a long time."
A friendship that will not end, but will undoubtably face some strain as the end of the present 7-year deal creeps closer and closer.
"The present contract is a good contract," Pastilong said. "It's a contract that we could live with. If they (Marshall) would agree to extend that contract, then we would have to give it some serious consideration."
The present deal called for seven games, four in Morgantown, two in Huntington and the 2009 game going to whichever school won the majority of the first three contests.
WVU won all three. The Mountaineers captured a 42-10 victory at Mountaineer Field in 2006, then traveled to Huntington and came back to Morgantown with a 48-23 win to secure Saturday's home contest.
WVU owns an 8-0 mark against its instate rival following last year's 27-3 decision.
Even though Marshall brought a 4-2 record to Morgantown on Saturday, it once again was a huge underdog, with the point spread at game time favoring WVU by 21 points.
Another obstacle standing in the way of a renewal of the contract is the timing of the contest as this is the latest in the season the schools ever have met. WVU was coming off its first Big East contest of the season and its players and coaches had to spend most of the week switching gears to play a game that only has meaning in the Mountain State.
"We have a responsibility to our school to pay our bills and we just can't accomplish that by playing only six home games a year," Pastilong concluded.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com