CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- According to the West Virginia Poll, which was published in Thursday's Daily Mail, 76 percent of sports fans in the Mountain State want to see the West Virginia-Marshall football series continue.
Staggering and, perhaps surprising figures, even without the fact that 71 percent of those polled identified themselves as fans of the Mountaineers.
Let's assume WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck wasn't one of the 401 persons polled by R.L. Repass & Partners, the company that conducted the survey for the Daily Mail.
Luck, however, has a vote in this matter that carries significantly more clout.
Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, an advocate for the continuation of the series in some form, opined in this column space earlier this week. He listed what he believes are the many positives of the series, which ranged from tickets sold to the statewide economic benefits of the intrastate series.
Hamrick shared those thoughts with me on Aug. 21 in his Shewey Building office in Huntington. Later that day I left my cubicle inside the Charleston Newspapers building and met Luck in a suite at Appalachian Power Park.
The third-year WVU athletic director had a drastically different viewpoint than his in-state counterpart.
"I think it's been a nice series," Luck said, "but our fan base kind of shrugs their shoulders. My responsibility is to my school and not necessarily to the state or the economic impact of the game.
"I've ultimately got to take care of what's best for our football program."
Luck has a diffident approach to scheduling because of the Mountaineers' conference affiliation change and the uncertainties surrounding the abolishment of the Bowl Championship Series.
A four-team playoff will debut in 2014, which will be WVU's third season in the Big 12.
"We really need to figure out this new playoff system and how important strength of schedule will be," Luck said. "Do we really need to load up? Everybody is in the same boat because we are waiting to see the details. That has to play out first."
And, to Luck, there's the Big 12 and then the Big 4. As in Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Those are four schools to watch as potential non-conference opponents for WVU in the future.
"When I was at a Pirates game a few weeks ago, Mountaineer fans who saw me asked about Pitt and Penn State," Luck said. "When I'm in the southern part of the state, people ask me about Virginia Tech."
Currently, WVU has three non-conference games and nine Big 12 games. Luck had five non-conference slots to fill in the Big East, so shoehorning Hamrick's Herd is more of a challenge these days.