“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.
Filed under: WVU Football