ON a converted cow pasture on Nov. 28, 1891, West Virginia University played its first football game, a 72-0 blowout against Washington & Jefferson.
The Presidents, not the Mountaineers, won.
Intercollegiate football was part of physical education then. In 1906, the National Collegiate Athletic Association began as a regulator of what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry.
This reflects the public's appetite for college football as entertainment. Fans want to see the games on television and the various television networks are only too happy to provide the games, which attract lucrative advertising contracts for the networks.
While W&J continues as a non-scholarship football team, WVU's football program is big-time, generating more revenue for the school than the team spends. As part of the Big 12, WVU will get one-tenth of $2.6 billion from ESPN and Fox alone.
This explains the million-dollar contracts for the coaches.
But what about the players?
Their football scholarships are worth thousands, true, but playing football is a full-time job for which there is no legal means of compensation.