CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every hero needs an arch villain. Batman needs The Joker. Eliot Ness needs Al Capone.
I need the treadmill.
Marshall fans are holding an open casting call for their new chief nemesis in Conference USA, now that Central Florida absconded from the group during college athletics' Super Duper Good Time Realignment Jamboree and set up residence in the American Athletic Conference.
And what a feud it was, bolstered by Knights' 2005 football win over the Thundering Herd, which snapped UCF's 17-game losing streak. Stoked by former Herd men's basketball coach Donnie Jones, a Point Pleasant native who switched sides in the rivalry and took the same job at UCF. Inflamed by UCF men's basketball players' social media insults last January about their Huntington lodging and enhanced by the Herd's one-point win in a foul-filled grudge match.
Now all that's left is for Marshall and UCF fans to trade anonymous barbs on each other's respective message boards, because you probably won't see the two athletic programs on the same field in the regular season for a long time.
So what team in this rebooted C-USA will fill the void the Knights left? And is it really fair to even ask the question?
Rivalries like these aren't conjured. They're cultivated. They come from geography, like Auburn and Alabama or Florida and Florida State, or an organically grown enmity, like the Lakers and Celtics or Notre Dame and The Rest of Humanity.
(And we're going to focus on an intra-conference rivalry, because those teams are obligated to play each other in the college athletics' two marquee sports - football and men's basketball. Marshall would have a ready-made enemy in West Virginia, but the Friends of Coal Bowl is packed in the mothballs. And building a feud through volleyball just doesn't have the same oomph, y'know?)
So while there's no guarantee that any of the teams in the new-look C-USA will rise to the level of archenemy, there are a few teams that could become contenders to that title.
The Herd could always look back toward the Sunshine State at either Florida International or Florida Atlantic. FIU could draw scorn for the beach scene the Panthers painted on their basketball court alone. And this is the school that hired Isaiah Thomas as its basketball coach right after his debacle with the New York Knicks, then fired him just three awful seasons later.