Fans of the Friends of Coal Bowl may be looking for another game to attend when the present contract between West Virginia University and Marshall University ends in 2012.
"Obviously, our focus is on the Big East and with TCU coming in 2012," first year Director of Athletics Oliver Luck explained. "We will have to wait and see what the Big East is going to do schedule-wise before we commit ourselves to another contract like the one we have now."
Not to say that the Mountaineers' head man wouldn't sit down with Marshall's Mike Hamrick and discuss a continuation of the present agreement, that calls for a 7-game series with the winner of the first two-out-of-three getting a home game in year number four.
West Virginia owns a 10-0 mark against the Thundering Herd, including a 24-21 overtime victory in Huntington this past season. The series moves back to Morgantown for the final two games of the agreement and talks have been sporadic at best between the two Directors of Athletics since Luck took over the program last June.
"We just don't know how many conference games we are going to have in 2013, 2014 or 2015," continued Luck. "I know for a fact that the Big East has been authorized by the commissioner to look for a 10th member.
"There could be nine conference games if we have 10 members or there could be more. We are just going to follow orders from our conference, which is to hold off on scheduling because we-the Big East-have got to figure out what our competition is going to be."
Not exactly the words those in favor of a continuation of the series want to hear.
A quick perusal of the 2013 slate of games find WVU taking on Florida State, Maryland, East Carolina and William & Mary in the non-conference portion of its schedule with the final eight games against Big East members TCU, Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and South Florida.
Big 10 member Michigan State replaces the Seminoles the next two seasons with the only other change in the Mountaineers' non-conference slate being home encounters with Towson State in 2014 and Liberty the following year.
If the Big East does expand to 10 teams WVU would more-than-likely opt out of its contests with William & Mary, Towson State and Liberty. Villanova, which has been a conference member for a very long time, but has opted to play football in the NCAA Division I-AA, has been encouraged by league members to move up to the D-I class, but has yet to make its intentions public.
Several other programs have been approached as well and it appears that the Big East will continue to grow over the next years.
"Obviously, that is going to have an affect on what we are going to do with our football schedule," added Luck.
The earliest season that fans hoping to see a continuation of the Friends of Coal Bowl can point to is 2016 when WVU's non-conference schedule has the Mountaineers taking on East Carolina, Maryland and BYU.
Even that date may be more of a dream than a reality, especially if the present "expansion fever" that has hit the Big East pushes it to add more that just the Horned Frogs from TCU.
One thing is a reality, however.
Despite rumblings from former governors, present lawmakers and even loyal fans from both schools, the Friends of Coal Bowl is destined to end.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com