CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The name of the game has become something of an oxymoron.
If they play in the "Friends" of Coal Bowl, then why do West Virginia and Marshall act so much like enemies?
Look, I'm not naive enough to think that after Sunday afternoon's game at Mountaineer Field and a return Coal Bowl date there next season, that the Herd and 'Eers will get together again anytime soon on a football field.
I think the teams should play ... if not every year, then at least six out of 10.
As it is, there's enough rancor in this series to fill 60,000 seats ... and speaking of a sellout, maybe this is a good place to point out that the five games in the series (attendance combined) have played to 101 percent of capacity.
Marshall wants to play West Virginia. I think the Herders might even be willing to go 3-for-2 or 4-for-3 just to restore the series down the road soon. The Mountaineers don't want to play Marshall, or at least they don't want to play the Herd in Huntington, ever.
Marshall fans call WVU to buy tickets and are told none are available, and then Herdheads complain that it's not being called a sellout ... when their own school returned 700 tickets because it didn't like the location.
If this game wasn't that important, do you think Rich Rodriguez would have sent a staffer to Huntington in the springtime for something other than a trunkload of Stewart's Hot Dogs?
There's been a lot of that kind of stuff back and forth, and from the vision-corrected view of this longtime pressbox-sitter, it's tiresome, trite and childish.
WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck has said the Mountaineers are waiting on the shakeout of Big East Conference expansion - or realignment somewhere (like if Pitt and Louisville go to the Big 12) - to see what impact that might have on scheduling.
Well, even if the Big East hikes to as many as 12 football schools, the league isn't going to play more than a nine-game schedule. That leaves three openings annually, and Maryland obviously would get one of those from WVU.
With the other two dates, there's no room for the Herd, but there is room for a six-year, home-and-home with East Carolina? And WVU isn't going to get its desired seven home dates perennially anyway with Big East expansion, so that's no longer an excuse.
Asked on Thursday if there's anything brewing on the future of the series, Marshall AD Mike Hamrick said there have been "no discussions about it between Oliver and me for months."
The game has become a political football. Wait ... it's always been that.
The only reason the teams are playing now is former Gov. Joe Manchin, drawing the ire of his alma mater for which he once played football, shoved what became the Coal Bowl down the Mountaineers' throats back in 2005.
While Manchin was back then the man who made the series happen, he may also have been the guy who unraveled any hope of the series continuing.
Last year, at a Friends of Coal luncheon in Huntington on game day, Manchin - then still governor and a Senate candidate - stood before the crowd and all but promised the series would continue.
Luck, who had been WVU's athletic boss for less than three months, was on his first trip to Huntington as AD ... and felt like he'd walked into a hornets' nest.
Knowing what a whole state knows about how aggressively and strategic Luck operates, it's obvious he wasn't going to let anyone tell him how to schedule football games.