Inside Marshall Sports

My .02 on near-dead series

Trying to beat one last pregame story out of my system today. These few days are just about the worst all season — you see the team play against itself, talk about itself on and on, and sooner or later, you want some new data on this team. We all need to see a real game.

When I saw the “August 31, 2012” flash on the screen at the start of “Today” this morning, I felt a twinge of excitement. And relief.

I’ll share one angle I haven’t written about this week. Punter Tyler Williams (the Herd’s most important newcomer) is from Indiana, and doesn’t fully know what the atmosphere will be. But he was about three classes into his college education when he shared his lessons  about the rivalry.

Now, keep in mind that Williams can blend in with the student body. After all, he’s not 6-5, 270. He looks like an average college freshman, period, so he can hear the buzz more candidly.

“A lot of people are really excited about this game, mainly because it’s the last year, possibly, we could play each other, and how high West Virginia’s ranked. And a lot of people want us to beat them. It would do amazing things for this community. Kids are talking about going down to the game — I think they’re more excited than some of the players are. They don’t want us to lose, just as much as we don’t want to.”

I was surprised by the West Virginia Poll’s finding that 76 percent of sports fans want to see the series continue — and that 71 percent of those polled identified themselves as Mountaineer fans. I thought the “sore winners” may have been a minority, but not that small.

On the way home from dropping off kids this morning, I heard a quote on the radio from MU president Stephen Kopp, and it was a beauty. Paraphrasing, he said both sides can get it done if they want, or they can come up with excuses if they want. In his own presidential way, Kopp can run a little smack.

(Straying off topic, I misinterpreted Kopp’s comment at “Paint the Capital City Green” about the Third Avenue parking garage. From Old Main, Dave Wellman tells me that only the surface lots on Third are affected by the new engineering building. BUT … I believe I clearly heard Kopp refer to the *garage* being “taken off line.” Knowing how young that building is, I reacted with a “wow.” … Hey, nothing MU does surprises me, including leaving 2,100 tickets in WVU’s custody, so why would mothballing the Third Avenue garage surprise me?)

As you may remember from this time last year, I advocate Marshall severing all athletic relations with WVU, even ending the women’s tennis and volleyball rivalries. I think the powers that be in Morgantown, including Oliver Luck and Mike Parsons, consistently view MU with disdain, and I continue to hear anecdotes to support that.

The abuse Herd fans have been subjected to goes without further mention. (If you haven’t picked up today’s Charleston paper, do so and locate a quarter-page ad WVU purchased in the sports sections. Worth your half-buck, by itself.)

Back to the field, I think I am going to throw out some nerdy stats about the series, and why WVU is dominating. These will make Herd fans cringe, for certain, but they should give you glimpse on what the Herd must do to win.

I apologize to a small extent for having Dana Holgorsen tell you Marshall coaches went to Oregon for offensive pointers. Coaches tend to visit another staff each spring, as long as the teams don’t play.

Thinking back over the past few weeks, I can see it in the times the Herd offense went beyond up-tempo into hyper-tempo. A few times, Rakeem Cato has snapped with 34 or 35 seconds left on the clock. (I have seen a thing or two to which I have been sworn to secrecy.)

(If you really want my betting advice, I’ve considered 24 points the magic spread all along. If more, take the Herd; if less, go the other way if you can stand it. As always, bet for amusement purposes only.)

When I was on Insider Sportsline with Paul Swann on Wednesday, I heard reference to some Big Green members not hearing or reading that they had access to tickets for the game. If you suffered this fate, give me a yell.

Final word: If your car is disabled and/or vandalized, call 293-COPS. You can even get a free tow courtesy of the local AAA chapter, if that service is still offered.