While WVU athletic director Steve Lyons has made it clear he would like to see the return of the Backyard Brawl, another rivalry seems less likely at this time.
During his interview on MetroNews Sportsline Lyons stated that he was not sure how a series against Marshall would fit into what WVU is trying to accomplish. “It’s out there, but I’ve got to look at the big picture, at what’s best for West Virginia University and our scheduling model,” Lyons said.
Baylor saw their playoff hopes crushed last season in part to a weak out of conference schedule, at least according to the playoff selection committee. Lyons will not willingly let that happen in the future. Marshall is predicted to have the weakest strength of schedule in college football next season ranking 128 of 128 by Phil Steele.
The Thundering Herd argued throughout last season they were not receiving the respect they deserved for going undefeated for the majority of the season, and were probably correct to a certain extent. However, the unfortunate truth for Marshall is that they play in a conference that does not garner many high profile opponents. While this is something The Herd cannot control, it is a reality they must live with.
Lyons finished off the question regarding the Friends of Coal Bowl by saying, “We’ll look at it, (but) I’m not sure how that fits”. Before leaving to take a new position with the NCAA, former WVU AD Oliver Luck secured future out of conference games against Virginia Tech, NC State, BYU, and Tennessee.
Lyons went on to say that he is a fan of neutral site games, something that simply would not be realistic in a series against Marshall as it would have to be played out of state to find a venue large enough. While Lyons stopped short of totally dismissing the return of the Friends of Coal Bowl, he left little doubt that it is probably not in the Mountaineers future.
WVU is 12-0 all time against Marshall including 7-0 since the inception of the Friends of Coal Bowl. The two teams have not played since 2012 when the then #11 Mountaineers beat the Herd 69-34.
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