INSTITUTE, W.Va. - There's a phrase where I'm from that indicates a person occupying the attention of another without even trying.
It's called "Renting space for free," and it's exactly what Ryan Switzer, Elijah Wellman and Eugene German are doing this week.
The trio -- and let's face facts, Switzer is the crown jewel of the three -- starred at the North-South All-Star Football Classic media luncheon at West Virginia State University on Tuesday without even being in the room.
Heck, two of the three aren't even in the state, and none of their names were mentioned in official remarks.
Yet, the respective winners of the Kennedy Award (Switzer), Huff Award (Wellman) and Hunt Award (German) from the 2012 season -- none of whom are playing in the game -- found their identities laced throughout comments made by game organizers and coaches throughout the early afternoon.
It began with Mark Montgomery, who stepped to the podium inside the Wilson Student Union at State to make a bold and proud proclamation.
"I'd like to welcome everyone, and congratulations to you guys for being the best football players in West Virginia," said Montgomery, the assistant director for the game.
"I mean it. If you're not here, I don't consider you one of the best."
It wasn't simply the inaccuracy of the statement that raised eyebrows. It was the venom with which it was delivered.
The statement was made in front of an assembly of both teams that will play in Saturday's game at University of Charleston Stadium. The sports world is full of rabble-rousing rhetoric used in order to excite teams and individual athletes about one thing or another in order to maximize their performance.
In this case, however, there were also plenty of people within earshot of the words who had no stake in anyone's performance and no interest in the success of the game itself as a moneymaker or even as an historic part of Mountain State sports lore.
North Coach Jodi Mote, who played in the game at the end of his days at St. Marys High School and now serves as the Blue Devils' coach, was less brash about the subject but nevertheless "went there."
"People have asked because a kid didn't come, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. These guys that are here, both the North and the South, what they're going to experience this week is very special.
"Our society is all about 'me.' These guys -- at least I've been around this group for just a short time -- it's not about them. It's about their team and that says a lot about the future of society. It's not all bleak, so to speak."
Mote didn't leave things off at that point.
"I want to address this because reporters have asked me, about colleges and stuff. One, I think that's a question you need to ask college coaches, why they would ask a young man not to be here," he said.
This brings to mind another phrase, typically used by my kids.