Editor's note: This is the first of two columns on the future of the West Virginia-Marshall football series. WVU Athletic Oliver Luck shares his perspective with Daily Mail sports editor Chuck McGill later this week.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It seems foolish to make this statement after last year's twice-delayed, weather-shortened Friends of Coal Bowl, but give me the storm.
I'd rather attempt to forecast the path of Hurricane Isaac - and whether its remnants will be in the vicinity of Morgantown for Saturday's final installment of the West Virginia-Marshall football series in its current format - than predict when the Mountain State's two major football programs will meet again.
One athletic director wants the game; the other does not. The former, Marshall fourth-year Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, inherited what turned out to be a 5-for-2 series brokered by then-Gov. Joe Manchin.
It might take another political intervention before the Herd and Mountaineers get together on the gridiron again. Remember, these two played just five times from 1911-2005 before tangling seven consecutive seasons.
That run ends with Saturday's conclusion of a series that is 11-0 in WVU's favor. The Mountaineers are a 24.5-point favorite in a matchup they've won by 20.3 points over the last six seasons and 29.3 points all-time, but Hamrick's viewpoint extends beyond what happens inside the lines.
"We like the game," he said. "Obviously we haven't won it yet. We had our chance and we let it get away two years ago.
"I think it's a great game for the state of West Virginia. It's popular with the fans. It sells out. The players talk about it being a rivalry game and I've heard and read West Virginia players talk about it being a rivalry game."
Hamrick recalled how the WVU players and coaching staff exploded off the sidelines at Edwards Stadium when Marshall kicker Tyler Warner pushed his game-tying field goal attempt wide right in overtime to give the Mountaineers a 24-21 win in 2010.
"I watched them celebrate on our field," he said. "That seems like a rivalry to me."
Hamrick points to attendance figures as a sign of interest from both fan bases. On the Marshall side, the Coal Bowl has generated the top two crowds in Edwards Stadium history: 41,382 in 2010 and 40,383 in 2007. Only one other game in the 22-year-old stadium's history drew more than 35,000 spectators.
The Coal Bowl has a six-year combined attendance of 318,186 - or 100.62 percent capacity.
"It's a premium game on our ticket package and it's a premium game on their ticket package," Hamrick said.