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W.Va. big enough for two teams

by Chris Vannoy

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

A caller to a postgame radio show last Saturday following the West Virginia win over East Carolina mentioned that he had been tailgating at the game with Marshall president Dan Angel.

True or not, it's a refreshing change from the rhetoric that usually flows north from Huntington.

Herd coach Bob Pruett crows about WVU being too chicken to play at Marshall; the Herd sports information department takes not-too-subtle digs at the bigger school up north in game preview press releases.

The level of baloney originating from Huntington's Third Avenue is enough that you might as well slap an Oscar Mayer sign on the front of the Herd's facilities building.

These are two schools in the same state with a scheduling conflict: They're not rivals.

Heck, they don't even play each other.

There's no earthly reason why people in this state can't be fans of both programs, yet Marshall's insistence on goading West Virginia at every chance it can get only serves to polarize the fans of both programs.

There's little middle ground any more.

It seems as if you're either a Marshall fan or a West Virginia fan -- and that's the biggest injustice of all.

These teams are both in the top three in the nation in total offense.

Marshall has a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in Byron Leftwich. West Virginia has a player who should be in running back Avon Cobourne.

They're both fun to watch, with good players and good coaching staffs.

There's never been a better time to be a fan of both programs.

Now, if only people would shut up and let us.

n n n

Here's to using your quarterbacks creatively.

Last Saturday against Tiffin, Ohio, West Virginia Wesleyan had one signal caller kicking off and another was the long snapper on field goals and extra points.

"I don't like to talk about it much publicly," Bobcats coach Bill Struble said at the time. "People read this stuff, you know. We're just trying to get the best guys out there to give us the best chance to win.

"Those are the best guys for the position, so they're out there."

One more reason to love small college football, folks.

Assistant Sports Editor Chris Vannoy can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at cvannoy@exponent-telegram.com