CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Oliver Luck found a way to link fracking to football in his Thursday morning speech to the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.
The second-year West Virginia athletic director artfully tied the Mountaineers' pending Big 12 Conference entrance to the subject at hand at the Marcellus to Manufacturing: Ethane Development Conference.
While it is inaccurate to say Luck was a real gas, he told a Charleston Civic Center audience that an "unusual parallel ... very positive" exists between WVU's conference address change and the Marcellus movement, and what the latter could mean to the state and region in development of natural gas.
He talked about the "upbeat attitude" he senses and compared it to WVU's move to the Big 12. Like development stemming from the Marcellus Shale, the school's move is "an opportunity that does come with challenges."
Luck told the audience that like the natural gas business, WVU athletics now has strong ties "with Texas, Oklahoma and even Kansas ... all of a sudden, we're part of that network."
He also threw out a challenge to the Mountaineer faithful in the audience, speaking of "the chance to change the image of our fan base," with newcomers from Texas and Oklahoma headed in future seasons to Mountaineer Field.
"They have no preconceived notions of some of the things from over the years ... We've got to be more hospitable," Luck said afterward.
The WVU athletic director also said plenty more after his keynote address ...
He said that Holgorsen's formal contract still isn't finished, but "would be done before the season." Huggins' contract has a clause relating to the veteran coaches staying in the upper half among Big East coaching salaries. "Obviously, that has to be redone," Luck said. "I'd imagine we'll get it done by the start of the (2012-13) school year."
Asked if Holgorsen would have a "non-compete" clause in his contract that would prevent the former Texas Tech and Oklahoma State assistant from leaving for another Big 12 job, Luck said he didn't think that was necessary "and I doubt Dana will go for a non-compete ... but there will be a buyout in there."
He said WVU ranks "mid-tier ... upper-middle ... fourth or fifth" among 10 schools in Big 12 football assistant coaches' salaries. The nine Holgorsen assistants total $2.45 million. Texas is at the top, at $3.2 million.
Luck said he wants to do coaching contracts relating to the Big 12 salary scale, and try to rework operational and recruiting budgets in similar fashion.
"Just a few days I ago I asked one of our people to run all of the Big 12 baseball coaching salaries, operating and recruiting budgets," Luck said. "We're woefully behind in those, way behind. I think (Coach) Greg Van Zant makes about $60,000. I think the lowest baseball coach's salary in the Big 12 was about $200,000."