The first bowl game of the 2011 college football season to be nationally televised?
It's the Friends of Coal Bowl, set for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4, (that's right, Sunday) at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown. It will mark the sixth time (in a seven-year contract that expires in 2012) that West Virginia University and Marshall University will meet in the annual 'bowl' game.
WVU announced on Friday the game has been picked up for national broadcast by ESPN. That's great news both for the exposure of the teams and the revenue the broadcast will generate. (In all likelihood it also will be the first game to ever take place in Morgantown with beer being sold at the stadium.)
WVU actually made a pair of announcements Friday as the Big East Conference game at Syracuse has been moved to an 8 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Oct. 21, and will be broadcast either on ESPN or ESPN2.
You know how I feel about college football games on Friday night. But it doesn't matter how any of us feel.
It's all about the money and that is the only consideration.
No university ever has turned down ESPN and likely none ever will.
At least the athletics directors at state high schools will have plenty of warning and time to move their game that weekend to Thursday night, Saturday afternoon or Saturday night. That's what happened last year when WVU played Marshall, Connecticut and Pittsburgh all on Friday night.
Let's face it, when the Mountaineers are playing football it's the biggest happening in the state. High school games being played at the same time draw only the die-hard fans who are willing to miss a WVU game.
The four choices were athletics director Oliver Luck, football coach Bill Stewart, offensive coordinator and soon to be head football coach Dana Holgorsen and basketball coach Bob Huggins.
I usually can predict the results of our poll within a few percentage points, but I was blown away at how this one turned out.
Huggins got more votes than the other three combined. After digesting that for a while, I can see why. He's a West Virginia guy who played for the Mountaineers, and he's a hot commodity, given his team's appearance in the 2010 Final Four and its return to the NCAA Tournament this season.
Still, I figured Luck would be a major attraction given how fast he is moving to create change in Morgantown. Many WVU fans like the bold and aggressive moves Luck has made. Others are questioning those moves and the future of the athletics program.
But it's Huggins who is the crowd favorite.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org