Mitch Vingle: MU and media rights, WVU hoops news and the Power

Ye olde notebook:

n Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick knows.

If there ever was a time for Conference USA football to make a statement, it’s this coming season.

“No question,” Hamrick said.

The reason: C-USA’s three media rights deals are set to expire at the end of the 2015-16 school year. It’s time for the league to make a mark in regard to the TV ratings.

In case you’re unaware, Conference USA has deals with Fox Sports, CBS Sports and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s American Sports Network. Locally, WCHS-TV is part of the latter.

Change, though, hasn’t been all that grand for the league. Those in charge are hoping for growth from football programs like Old Dominion, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Texas San-Antonio. Right now, though, the best programs seem to be Marshall, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech.

MU has made its mark of late. WKU has a recognizable coach in Jeff Brohm and a good quarterback in Brandon Doughty. Tech is coached by Skip Holtz and will feature QB Jeff Driskel, a transfer from Florida.

But is that enough to lift the league? Is it enough to hang financially with the over $100 million contracts of Group of Five leagues American Athletic and Mountain West?

“Negotiations are ongoing,” Hamrick said. “The conference has a consultant that is working on it too. During our spring meetings, our partners were with us in Destin, Florida. They gave every indication they are still interested. Look at our markets. We have San Antonio, Charlotte, Houston, Miami and the Tidewater area. Also, we at Marshall don’t have the biggest market, I’m told was we have a good brand. People watch Marshall.”

Leverage, however, is earned with victories. And C-USA has plenty of opportunities. The Sunday, Sept. 6, matchup of Purdue at Marshall is one.

“We play that on a Sunday when there’s no NFL,” Hamrick said. “We play Western Kentucky on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Those are two good time slots, probably the best of our league.”

It would help C-USA if MU wins those statement games. But it would also help contract talks if some other league teams step up as well.

“It’s important,” Hamrick said. “It’s important we get good television exposure and the money is important.”

The AD said the current rights holders “have the first shot. If an agreement can’t be made, then it opens up. We are in that window of negotiation.”

n In case you’re wondering, no, C-USA teams don’t sign away their “grant of media rights” to the league. “If we left,” Hamrick said, “there would be a penalty, but we don’t do that.”

The reason is self-explanatory.

n Word out of Denver is former Marshall star Mike D’Antoni interviewed for the open coaching job with the NBA’s Nuggets. D’Antoni last coached the Los Angeles Lakers in April of 2014.

n Flashback. When Hamrick was looking to replace Mark Snyder, he flew in then-Central Michigan coach Butch Jones for a couple of days. Jones, of course, moved to Cincinnati and has now found success at Tennessee. (WVU fans might remember him as an assistant in Morgantown to Rich Rodriguez.)

Hamrick, though, seems very happy these days with his hire — Doc Holliday.

n OK, so the other day I told you WVU is looking for a big man in its next men’s basketball recruiting class to go with Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler.

Well, the one they are chasing hard is 6-foot-9 Emmanuel Malou of Yuba College (Calif.). The Mountaineers have company, though. According to recruiting reporter Brad Winton, Malou has picked up offers from WVU, Iowa State, Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Marquette, among others.

n While on the subject of Mountaineer basketball, you might know I host a show each Tuesday in the Valley. It’s moved to Grumpy’s Waterfront in St. Albans and this coming Tuesday’s guests will be ex-WVU stars Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones.

Anyway, this past Tuesday’s guests were John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla, both former WVU Final Four team members. Mazzulla is now an assistant coach at Fairmont State and was the lead recruiter in the signing of former Mountaineer Chase Connor.

Meanwhile, Flowers (also very well known for his rendition of the “Dougie” dance) has been playing professionally in France. His contract has expired and he’s awaiting word on more opportunities. In this window, however, he’s putting on an alumni game that should draw very, very well.

Flowers rented Morgantown High’s gym for Aug. 1 and will play hoops along with Butler, Jones, Devin Ebanks and Truck Bryant, among others. Mountaineer announcer Tony Caridi will be there. Also, part of the proceeds will go to the Norma Mae Huggins cancer fund. Should be neat.

n Kudos to Jim Justice and the gang at The Greenbrier for landing Lee Trevino as golf pro emeritus. Some were speculating Tom Watson would be followed in the job by Nick Faldo, who owns a home at the resort.

Trevino, however, has a much more upbeat fan reputation. He should prove a very popular choice.

n And finally ...

We’re getting to the true West Virginia Power baseball season in these parts. That comes around when the summer seriously sets in and the high school season is complete.

And here’s some good news for the casual Power fans: The team is pretty good.

The Pittsburgh Pirate affiliate isn’t loaded with home run hitters. Bombs aren’t flying out of Appalachian Power Park. Yet the team was No. 3 in the South Atlantic League both in hitting and pitching this week. Also, it does a lot of the little things well.

Like minutiae? The Power went into Wednesday’s game against Greensboro with 38 sacrifice bunts, the most in professional baseball. And in that game, the total went up to 40.

Give the team a look.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.

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