WEST VIRGINIA University fans are undoubtedly interested in what's going on down on the Farm.No, not the one down the street from you, but the one at Stanford. The Farm is the campus nickname there, derived from the days when horses rather than students roamed in what was previously the farm of university founders Leland and Jane Stanford.There is an opening at the school now that athletic director Bob Bowlsby has been introduced as the Big 12 commissioner, and it would be silly to think WVU athletic director Oliver Luck is not on Stanford's short list of candidates. He is a terrific candidate. The name of Luck is more than golden since his son, Andrew, lit up the joint via football. And Oliver Luck knows the school's president, John Hennessy, very well.In the past five days, Luck has given a "no comment" on his candidacy. On Wednesday, I called on a different topic, but asked again. I figured much has shaken out since Bowlsby announced his move.
Luck's answer?"I'm not going to comment."It was a much different response than that given when Luck was rumored to be a candidate for the Big 12 job."I'd rather be on the search committee," he told me back on Feb. 1.He was asked point-blank if he was interested in the Big 12 job."No," Luck said. "I'm very happy with what I'm doing. We have lots to do here yet. I'm happy being on [school president] Jim Clements' team."By all accounts, Luck is still happy being on Clements' team. The two seem to have a terrific working relationship. But when Luck watched his son play for the Cardinal, many times he did so seated beside Hennessy.
Also, there's no doubt Stanford, the private university, can pay more than West Virginia, the public university. The former is simply bathed in cash. You know how WVU boasts of Rhodes Scholars? Stanford has more than 50 faculty, staff and alumni that have won the Nobel Prize.I'm not trying to downgrade WVU. I proudly attended the school. I'm simply presenting facts.Stanford is one of the most prestigious schools in the country. It is located in California, near Palo Alto and San Francisco. WVU is in Morgantown, near Fairmont.Luck certainly has a love for WVU, where he played quarterback for Don Nehlen. Yet he certainly has one as well for Stanford, where his son starred at quarterback and his daughter, Mary Ellen, plays volleyball.
The above are facts. Speculation is in the form of candidates being looked at by Stanford. The published list of those "mentioned" include Yale athletic director Thomas Beckett, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli, UC-Irvine athletic director Mike Izzi, West Coast Conference Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich and Utah athletic director Chris Hill.Oh yes, and there's former Secretary of State and current Stanford political science professor Condoleeza Rice.
My question to you: Of those candidates, which would be the home run for Hennessy? (If you're considering Rice, I have two words for you: Donna Shalala.)Obviously, it would be Luck. Donors are literally sending big checks to Stanford because of what his son did. And if Hennessy wants Luck as much as WVU's Clements did, well, watch out.We will soon see. Luck's name has not only been linked to Stanford, but to the A.D. opening at Texas A&M and (ready for this?) the opening for Big East commissioner. (To the latter rumor all that came to mind were three letters: Lol.)If Luck stays, he'll continue to be the target of bigger and richer schools. It will not stop. He is that respected.
Clements will certainly do all he can to keep Luck. But understand the university president is trying to create an atmosphere where many of his hires are desired by other schools. He will be able to keep some. With others, he won't.What happens with Luck will be interesting. He might be offered by Stanford. If not, Texas or Ohio State or - more likely - Michigan will one day come calling. It's inevitable. And, really, it's a wonderful compliment to Clements and WVU.It will just boil down to where Luck is most happy. It boils down to where his family is most happy. Perhaps he's satisfied with his contributions to his alma mater. He extracted WVU from the Big East and placed it in a more stable Big 12 environ. That's a heck of a contribution.But the majority of WVU fans I've spoken to hope Luck feels at home down on our farms. And that he sticks around until the cows come home.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.