Oliver Luck Dips Into His Rainy Day Fund ….Again

We learned last month that Oliver Luck has no problems speaking plainly and making bold statements.  In a wide ranging interview during the lengthy rain delay of the WVU / MU game, Luck took shots at Rutgers, the current bowl system & (long before the defection of Syracuse & Pitt) made clear WVU had a wide range of conference possibilities in front of it. I’m starting to wonder if its something about precipitation that gets Luck talking because, amid a rainy backdrop he once again sounded off in a visit to the booth during the 3rd quarter of WVU’s 55-10 blowout win over Bowling Green.  The game was already out of hand, so maybe Ollie was just trying to just keep our attention. During an in-game interview with ESPN broadcast team Rob King and (Mountaineer great) John Thornton, Luck talked about the future of the Big East, took some parting shots at Syracuse and told us why the Backyard Brawl means too much to Pitt for them lose. The lesson: when Oliver Luck starts talking, it’s worth a listen. Things started tame with Luck paying respect to Don Nehlen & the scholarship fundraising event he was hosting over the weekend.  Many WVU players and alumni were in town for the homecoming festivities and Luck expressed a desire to ensure that they remain active in the program. In discussion of the state of the program as a whole, Luck said “I want to see our program relevant at a national level….that doesn’t mean we won’t be playing in the Big East.” He added “a national title should be our primary goal.” Exactly what a WVU fan would want to hear from their AD. But once the pleasantries were out of the way, it was business time. With regard to realignment, Luck seemed to indicate a preference to stay in the Big East or even move to the ACC. He said “regionality” was important (I don’t even know if that’s a word, but Ollie is smarter than me, so I’ll defer) saying he desired “bus trip” games for his fans, naming a host of ACC schools and Penn State as examples of regional rivals. He then added “The Big East can be as good as the ACC or even PAC 12 for that matter.” Soothing words for anyone who would like to see the embattled conference preserved and probably the most publicly supportive he’s been of the conference since the expansion extravaganza began. While hoping for a bright future though, he was honest about the Big East’s present situation:
“Let’s be honest, the reason TCU wants to be in this league is they see an easier path to a national championship than through Norman, Oklahoma or Austin, Texas or Stillwater (Oklahoma State).”
Taken with the previous statement about a title being job #1, you feel like Luck could very easily live in a rebuilt Big East that was able to retain it’s automatic qualifier status for the BCS. Talk then turned to potential Big East members Air Force and Navy and Luck broke out the scathing truthometer. On the prospect of adding service academies to the Big East:
“Air Force & Navy are academically excellent and we all agree they play some pretty good football. In all honesty, I would trade Air Force and Navy for Syracuse in football every day of the week…..no disrespect.”
(Here’s a life lesson for all you little kiddies out there. When you heard a person say “no disrespect,” someone’s getting disrespected.) Luck then demonstrated his mastery of the art of the cutting comment, packaging a thoughtful observation alongside an ACC dig : “Many people think the decision to take Syracuse and Pitt was about basketball. The ACC was embarassed at how strong the Big East had become in basketball.” When discussion turned to WVU’s longtime rivalry with Big East defectors Syracuse and Pitt, he turned his sights on the Orange football program, almost laughingly dismissing the need to continue the series with the ‘Cuse:
“We’ll still play Pitt. As a WVU fan I can tell you we’ll still play most likely in basketball every year and most likely in football every year. Syracuse just doesn’t mean a lot to our fan base. Nobody shows up to watch Syracuse (football) because they’ve been down. Basketball we’ll miss that game every other year in the Coleseium.”
Musket emptied. (Panther slinks away, having dodged Ollie’s magic Rhodes Scholar bullets) Not so fast my friend. Luck then spoke specifically as to why he felt so confident about the ability to continue the “Backyard Brawl.”
“We’ve played Pitt over 100 times. Now I’ve not had any discussions with the Pitt folks. Gonna let them be quite honestly after all the activity. But my sense is they’ll be very interested in maintaining the football rivalry with us. We bring twenty-five thousand fans to Heinz Field. We fill it up. And Pitt is not filling up Heinz Field on their own, so I think that game from a financial perspective is pretty important.”
Was this the best way to create fertile ground for negotiations to preserve the “Backyard Brawl”?  Maybe not, but after weeks of blowing in the winds of uncertainty, it was red meat that the WVU faithful had to be enjoying. And more importantly everything Luck said was 100% true. Anyone who caught Pitt’s upset blowout of the South Florida Bulls Thursday night couldn’t help but notice the empty stands. A sight not uncommon at Panther games, where they couldn’t even sell out a home date versus NOTRE DAME. Draw your own conclusions from the above quotes, but it seemed to me Luck was very comfortable with remaining in a reconfigured Big East, seeing it as perhaps the best path forward in the quest for a national title. Luck pointed out a fact that seems lost on many in discussions about the future of the Big East – the football programs of Air Force and Navy are equal to and perhaps beyond those of Syracuse and Pitt. And this is aside from the prestige that comes with adding service academies. On paper, the Big East could very well emerge a better product than before. Obviously there are myriad long-term issues to address from the standpoint of member commitment, but (as anyone who has actually WATCHED Syracuse or Pitt play football could tell you) the product on the field would not suffer from a downgrade. All in all a great interview. As WVU AD he has his sights set firmly on the ultimate prize and as “Big East Shadow Commissioner” he defended the honor of the imperiled conference. Not bad for a rainy day.

12 Responses to “Oliver Luck Dips Into His Rainy Day Fund ….Again”

  1. Ollie is the man. I trust whatever he does will be in the best interest of WVU.

  2. “Beat down” Syracuse kicked your ass last year and kept you from a BCS bowl. No ‘disrespect’. WVU has been full of themselves for a long time. They’re going to talk themselves out of quite a few rivalries, and then claim how “loyal” they were to the Big East because nobody else wants them.

  3. Syracuse kicked our ass? Really? They won by 5 points after our QB had his worst game of the season. Either way, a 5 point win is never, kicking someone’s ass.

  4. Brian, you lost me there buddy.. It almost seemed as though you wanted to even consider Syracuse a rival of any form. ‘Cuse has been, and will continue to be, irrelevant in football for a looooooong long long time. The Orange just went from being a bottom dweller in the BE to a bottom dweller in the ACC. Congratulations. Pitt will never abandon our rivalry and that’s just about the only true rivalry left. Most of our rivalries end when teams (mainly their coaches) no longer want to have to step foot in Morgantown. (i.e. Virginia Tech and Penn State)

  5. Brian,

    If by kicking WVU’s ass you mean that Syracuse was the beneficiary of a turnover fest in one of the worst performances by Geno and crew last year, then yes, the Orange kicked WVU’s ass. What will your response be if Holgerson’s bunch hangs 50 on Otto? Good riddance.

  6. [...] • “ In all honesty, I would trade Air Force and Navy for Syracuse in football every day of the week.” — Oliver Luck to Brandon Priddy [...]

  7. Hilarious interview considering that WVU has been denied admission to both the ACC and SEC. Good luck their Luck.

  8. ACC Fan. WVU never applied for either of the two mentioned conferences. Get the facts straight.

  9. Oliver luck is pissed and it shows. The Orange lead the series against WV 31-27. Since 1980, WV leads 16-14. Luck is simply ticked off he was rejected by the ACC and SEC. Trust me, he’s still looking. Best of Luck.

  10. Ok, Oliver Luck only meant that Syracusehas been consistently bad for 10 years. And they aren’t getting that much better. Syracuse lacks the sophistication in program marketing and building that WVU and frankly Pitt posseses. Remember the paparazzi asked Brad Pitt why he wears the WVU ball cap? Pitt doesn’t know where west Virginia is? He said, it’s a cool logo. That’s nice marketing. Syracuse? The ACC? They’ll never admit it, but my ACC friends, some who are connected with ACC programs, indicated some creeping regret over choosing the ‘Cuse. The regret started when Jim Boeheim committed some truth-telling right after the AD and prez-s announced the theft and said it was all about money. He meant to say all about big-headed college presidents who think they play with real leaders in business or the military or their financial advisor who majored in general studies. Or maybe it was marketing and they failed out.

  11. @ Sean

    Is a 26 point victory kicking somebody’s ass?

    @ RM

    A bottom dweller that has managed to beat your overrated big mouth Eers two years in a row, despite having little in the way of depth or scholarship players.

    I’m glad the Schwartzwalder trophy doesn’t mean anything to WVU, its AD or its fans, all because we went through a period of rebuilding. Because we all know WVU has been good from time immemorial right? And so has Pitt of course.

    Have fun with Air Force, guys.

  12. Have fun getting beat by Louisville next week Brian.

Leave a Reply