Luck on affiliation, Capital Classic, coaching search
YE OLDE notebook:
The Mountaineers are planning to move to the Big 12 for the next school year. The Big East is blocking that through the courts, trying to hold WVU to its commitment to a 27-month waiting period before exiting.
On Thursday, the question of West Virginia's status was put to school athletic director Oliver Luck.
"I can't help much," Luck said. "I'm sworn to secrecy."
By school lawyers?
"Lawyers, judges ... I'm not going to comment," Luck said. "My silence is all I can offer."
So I went to three respected lawyers, who all agree that a compromise will be the answer. They point to the non-binding mediation ordered by a judge in Rhode Island.
Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein signed the order and scheduled a status conference for Feb. 9. WVU has sued in the Mountain State; the Big East sued in Providence.
In non-binding mediation, both parties huddle with a facilitator to try to resolve differences and avoid trials.
Local attorney Rusty Webb calls the case "unprecedented" in regard to dueling jurisdiction and questionable enforcement power. Another, who spoke for background, said if a ruling was made against WVU in Rhode Island, an appeal would be forthcoming from the school. That would take up to a year or two to resolve.
So all signs point to WVU jumping to the Big 12 next school year and paying damages. What's odd is neither the Big East nor the Big 12 seem to be covering their respective behinds in regard to scheduling.
That means either a compromise is being hammered out now or one set of schools, likely the Big East, will be left with 11-game football schedules.
WVU must join the Big 12 to have its full slate of games. When TCU jumped to the Big East and then to the Big 12, it left a hole in the Mountaineer schedule.
There are issues to consider. The Big East must know any injunction issued against WVU in Rhode Island would be appealed. With that hanging, the Mountaineers would jump. An army wouldn't be making its way from Providence to prevent the football team from going to, say, Lubbock, Texas. Also, if WVU loses the appeal, the order would have to be enforced here in the Mountain State. That might prove to be a problem because courts here might not adhere to the order for a myriad of reasons, including those of jurisdictional or constitutional questions.
On the other hand, WVU is highly motivated to settle/compromise because it needs to join the Big 12 and make that league's TV contract whole. Both WVU and the Big 12 might be working on a compromise. (Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas wasn't immediately available for comment.) Why? Because there's a chance the Big East could amend its complaint and add the Big 12 to the breach of contract suit.
That's the last thing West Virginia would want. Morgantown is already gaining a reputation across the nation's university landscape as Litigation City. It doesn't want to add to that and drag its new partners into a legal battle.
So it's in the best interest of all to compromise, reach an agreement and get those schedules released. Tickets need to be sold. The wound needs to be cauterized.
"Both men's and women's games have been successful," Luck said. "I think splitting up the games [from one night] was a good idea. People get home at a decent hour.
"The timing of it, though, could be problematic when we join the Big 12. The Big 12 window for non-conference games closes earlier than the Big East."
According to Bob Burda of the Big 12, an 18-game conference schedule begins Jan. 1. A glance of the Big East schedule, however, shows much of the same, with a couple exceptions. For the most part, Big East non-conference play ceased after the Dec. 31 Kentucky-Louisville game. There's the exception for the MU-WVU game and Tennessee is playing Connecticut this Saturday.
One would imagine conferences schedule non-conference games if television really wants them. But the Big 12 might be more insistent that the MU-WVU game be moved back.
If that's the case, the Capital Classic could certainly be moved to December. The understanding is it's played when the Legislature is in session to amuse those who vote on funding.
But the Legislature is like the National Guard. Aside from the 60-day session block, those within meet for a weekend once a month for interim meetings. Surely, a mutual date could be found.
Luck was asked about the ongoing search for defensive assistants to work with WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen. Specifically, the athletic director was asked if he has a heavy hand in the hires.
"Not really," Luck said. "With Dana, I trust the guy. I like to operate by hiring head coaches and not meddling. He runs names by me, but head coaches know better than I.
"He's going about the search the way I think you should. He's finding the best candidates possible. It's a thorough search in a methodical, smart, intelligent way."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.