Having been born in 1953, I can honestly say I was not around to see the beginning of the West Virginia University-Marshall football series that began with a 17-15 victory by the Mountaineers in 1911.
I may not be able to say the same, however, when it comes to the end of the series as a contract to renew the present seven-year agreement between the Mountain State's two NCAA Division One programs is no closer to being signed than it was 12 months ago when WVU recovered from a 15-point deficit with 8:28 left in the game at Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Stadium to pull out a 24-21 overtime win.
The drama surrounding the Mountaineers' come-from-behind victory, as well as the Thundering Herd's inspired play, had many in the state wondering if, or when, a new contract would be signed between the two schools.
But, while there have been talks between WVU's Director of Athletics Oliver Luck and his counterpart at Marshall, Mike Hamrick, that is all there has been-talks. With the present series slated to conclude in Morgantown in 2012 and both schools having no room on their future schedules, it appears to be more-and-more apparent that the Friends of Coal Bowl is headed the way of the dinosaur.
Can, or will, there be games between the programs in the future?
The possibility remains, but the probability doesn't. The addition of TCU in 2012 takes away one non-conference opportunity for West Virginia and expansion rumors continue to circulate with the Big East and could involve the loss of one or two more non-conference contests.
Add to that Luck's determination to provide the Mountaineers more national exposure by playing games at neutral sites in stadiums used by the NFL and it makes the idea of WVU making another trip to Huntington even more unlikely.
Without that trip, it is more-and-more doubtful that Marshall's Hamrick will agree to any contract that has the game being played in Morgantown every year.
Then, there is the question of "if" the series should be continued. Internet message boards as well as talk radio shows around the Mountain State have been witness to every debate for and against renewing the series.
With no professional football team, West Virginians have developed a fanatical support for their favorite college and high school programs. Debating the pros and cons of this series becomes a near impossible task given the love each fan base has for its school.
On the field, there have been exciting contests such as last year's overtime decision as well as WVU's 42-31 victory over a Thundering Herd team that featured two future NFL players in Chad Pennington and Randy Moss in 1997.
But, there have also been the non-exciting games and they far out-weigh their counterpart. It's unlikely that Sunday's game will match the lopsided scores of 1915 (92-6) and 1923 (81-0), but it is just as unlikely that Marshall fans will get the opportunity to celebrate their first victory over WVU.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org