Posted on September 5th, 2011 by Brandon Priddy
Here are the highlights (I apologize for any innacuracies. I was literally driving through North Carolina, listening to Tony with one ear and “Thomas the Tank Engine” in the other – family beach trip. Am trying to be as accurate as I can. Hopefully MSN makes a podcast available soon.)
Luck on the current state of flux in WVU athletics:
(paraphrasing) “I remember when people were against the new field and wanted to renovate the old field and stay downtown.” A clear shot at the old school camp who aren’t too happy about changes Luck has made, from coaching to beer sales. And also a very good defense for forward looking change in general – no way does the current incarnation of WVU Football exist without the new stadium construction in 1980.
Luck on conference realignment:
This was the biggie: Luck was amazingly open here. Said in the near future the Big 12 could “dissolve.” I was shocked to hear him say this. Maybe not a bold statement for a guy in a bar, but far from the platitudes we’ve become accustomed to from people in Luck’s position. He went into further detail, saying he felt Texas was “looking east” with regard to future and Oklahoma was “looking west.” Notable given his knowledge of the region through his past in Houston.
With regard to WVU, Luck pointed out that geography keeps open the possibility of 4 leagues. Big East (obviously), ACC, SEC & Big Ten. Nothing really groundbreaking here. What stuck out to me was the candor with which he discussed WVU as an SEC team. Admitted they would have to “build depth” and then went further in noting Kentucky and Mississippi State as teams who have had similar challenges.
When the discussion turned to what WVU brings to the table, Luck seemed to take a issue with those who feel WVU doesn’t possess an adequate population to be a real asset from the standpoint of TV markets. Then he astutely pointed out that West Virginia’s market (including the Pittsburgh area and the outskirts of the DC metropolitan area) actually provided more access to TVs than recently snatched-up Nebraska.
When the discussion turned to what WVU brings to the table, Luck seemed to take a issue with those who feel WVU doesn’t possess an adequate population to be a real asset from the standpoint of TV markets. First he quite gleefully threw major media marketer Rutgers under the bus, pointing out that their athletic department lost money (I seem to remember a number in the high millions and originally wrote $17mi. here, but can’t verify the actual amount and don’t trust my memory as that number seems awful high) even AFTER their share of TV money. (it’s worth nothing here that skepticism as to Rutger’s ability to generate money is nothing new.
) Then he astutely pointed out that West Virginia’s market (including the Pittsburgh area and the outskirts of the DC metropolitan area) actually provided more access to TVs than recently snatched-up Nebraska.
Luck on bowl games:
Luck was at his most candid talking about bowl games. Here I admit my memory is a little foggy as to the particulars of who said what between Luck vs. Caridi, there was a lot of back and forth. The gist was a dubious attitude towards the financial benefit bowls provide schools, and at one point Luck pointed out that schools would make much more by simply hosting another home game. Caridi added a nice zinger saying something along the lines of “heck, play the game and then you can afford to take them to Disney World yourself.” At this point Luck made the statement he felt there were currently “too many bowls.” I was surprised at an athletic director at a school that has made so many recent bowl trips to both major and second tier games would be so blunt in criticism of the current system.
All in all a candid albeit unexpected prolonged sit down with a sharp, sharp guy. He had clearly given a lot of thought to realignment and WVU’s conference position for the future. He’s realistic about challenges membership in the SEC could bring, but (as evidenced by referencing the old stadium debate) unafraid to push the boundaries of what the program is capable of.
Additionally he holds a critical view of the current bowl system insomuch as he’s challenging established assumptions and not simply bowing to the status quo. One wonders how quicky the gears in that big brain get turning when he looks at potential revenues that could be generated by a playoff.
Earlier today Mark Ennis, a manager of BigEastCoastBias.com (follow him on Twitter @Mengus22) jokingly referred to Luck in a tweet as “Shadow Big East Commissioner.” it was one of those “funny because it’s true” jokes. Funny because the silence of on-paper commish John Marinatto amid realignment turmoil has been deafening. True because Luck’s vocal leadership of the conference’s most important athletic department makes him in many ways a de facto head. After hearing his comments today, I’m once again confident that WVU is in good hands as college football seems on the threshold of major change. The Big East should be so lucky.
Filed under: WVU Football
It’s not often that I find myself fortunate to not be at a WVU game (but instead in the middle of nowhere, NC) but today was that rare opportunity. In an effort to simply kill time during an extended rain delay, Tony Caridi fell into an interview with athletic director Oliver Luck that was as notable for it’s length as it’s candor.
Luck was all over the map, hitting on everything from the current state of WVU sports to conference realignment to a public jab at a conference partner.