Western Pennsylvania and especially passionate on the topic. “
Say what you will about this — and Kelley say a lot after the jump — but the only thing that really matters is what the ESPN family of networks has to say. In this case, they said South Florida would play host to West Virginia and quietly accept the payday.
Mountaineers Coach Rich Rodriguez has an interesting, if not simple, opinion of playing a Friday night home game.
“We won’t play one,” he said.
More…Rodriguez understands the necessity and he can appreciate the value in his program and USF’s receiving uncontested exposure among college football fans tonight on ESPN2. Yet there are consequences. Florida is the Mountaineers’ most important state for recruiting. There they are, in the middle of the state — yes, Tampa is more in the middle than in the south … discuss — and won’t be able to do any additional recruiting because any games worth watching are tonight. Then there are the high school programs. Friday is their day. Just not today. Consider Kelley’s case. He coaches in Morgantown. The Hawks are undefeated and one of the best teams in the state. Tonight, they play a road game, and while they might normally bring some casual fans with them for the short trip, that probably won’t happen for this game.
Of course, it’s not like they’ll be vastly outnumbered in the stands, either. The Hawks play at Fairmont Senior, which is in Marion County, where Rodriguez is from and where Rodriguez is as big as his paycheck. Forget the fact it’s Homecoming at Fairmont Senior. It’s the native son on national television with a chance to beat a ranked team for his 100th career victory. You know where they’ll be tonight. Kelley does, but he doesn’t blame them for being forced into this situation. “It’s out of our control,” he said. “I know Coach Rodriguez has expressed he doesn’t like it and he won’t play one at home, but it’s a fact of life. Money talks, TV talks and colleges walk. There is no doubt in my mind the Big East is going to make West Virginia have one soon.” WVU’s Deputy Director of Athletics Mike Parsons, who oversees scheduling and television and has helped prevent a Friday night home game for as long as this idea has existed, was presented with Kelley’s opinion. “I can’t tell you that won’t happen,” Parsons admitted.
The Mountaineers will resist, just as they have in the past. They’d prefer not play any mid-week games because they share parking lots with the hospital. Yet they know the sad reality is they might one day coalesce with the demands of television and conspire to dim the Friday night lights.
“Obviously the conference knows it’s not in our desire to play a Friday night home game and they are sensitive to certain areas that are more of a high school hot bed than others,” Parsons said. “But there is a certain number of games the Big East is required to provide and we may be in the situation in the future where we have to do that. We’ve made it known it’s not our desire, but at the same time it may be something we’re forced to do in the future.”