CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the 18 days since Sen. Robert Byrd died, the Mountain State has become all too familiar with jargon uttered during the game of dominos being played to find the iconic statesman's successor.
Among phrases like "special election," "acting governor" and "unexpired term," there's one more term to consider:
No disrespect intended, but Byrd's death set in motion quite a lot to deal with quickly. One of the challenges is the potential extension of a seven-year contract for a football series between West Virginia and Marshall.
At stake is the Manchin factor.
There's no question the two Mountain State programs got together annually starting in 2006 only because Gov. Joe Manchin banged some heads together.
He invited then-athletic directors Bob Marcum of Marshall and Ed Pastilong of WVU to the Governor's Mansion, fed them breakfast, had them talk, fed them lunch - and then basically told them, "Guess who's coming to dinner with an idea to end this impasse?"
Manchin twisted arms at WVU, his alma mater, and pretty much ordered the Mountaineers into what was then a 4-2-1 deal that ends with a 2012 game. West Virginia has pretty much rolled - 42-10, 48-23, 27-3 and 24-7 - in a series that the Friends of Coal Bowl sponsored for $1,029,700 for seven years.
It's Manchin's baby, but a lot has been thrown out with the bath water since then.
Of the seven principals in the room at the state Capitol for the formal contract signing on May 17, 2005, only Manchin is still in the same position. (The others were Mike Farrell, Bob Marcum and Mark Snyder for Marshall and WVU's David Hardesty, Ed Pastilong and Rich Rodriguez.)
However, the overwhelming statewide notion is that it would probably take Manchin to extend the series, and if Manchin runs as expected for Byrd's old seat and wins in November, he goes to Washington immediately after election results are certified.
If that occurs, Marshall loses its hammer in trying to forge a new deal.