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samhuff

Sam Huff was an All-America at WVU.

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday. Here are the slightly chilled opinions of the day.

• So long, Sam.

It was with considerable dismay that I learned about the death of Sam Huff. That’s because we went way back. I mean, waaaaay back.

It was 51 years ago that the former NFL great and West Virginia University All-American reached out to the 19-year-old sports editor of The Parthenon, Marshall University’s student newspaper.

That was me.

The horrific Marshall plane crash had happened only a couple of months previously and the school was looking for a new head coach to step in for the late Rick Tolley. Huff wanted the job. I, for one, was on board with the idea.

Why not? In 1971, Sam Huff was a very big name nationwide. When it came to West Virginia natives, Huff was on a par with Jerry West. So why not give him a chance?

That was my mindset, but new Marshall Athletic Director Joe McMullen wasn’t on the same page. He barely acknowledged Huff’s interest in the job.

Which, of course, infuriated Huff, who, in turn, reached out to me to air his side of the budding controversy. It didn’t change anything, but it did allow Huff to get a few grievances off his chest.

No offense to my old friend Jack Lengyel, but I often have pondered what might have happened if Huff had gotten the Marshall job. What sort of talent might his magical name have brought to Huntington?

It makes for a worthy debate because there’s no definitive answer to the premise.

Our paths crossed again 29 years later with a telephone interview. Huff was still his engaging self, entertaining me with tales of growing up in a coal camp house with no running water, proving he still recalled the name of his first-grade teacher and telling riveting stories about Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank “Gunner” Gatski, who had grown up in the same coal camp.

A few years later we actually met in person during a banquet to honor Gatski, a former Marshall and Cleveland Browns great, and Huff was still as engaging and personable as ever.

Huff was an icon who behaved like an ordinary man. I always respected and admired him for that. And I’m sorry to have to bid him farewell.

Rest in peace, Sam. You were special … even if you didn’t act like it.

• Middle Tennessee and, apparently, Western Kentucky aren’t going anywhere.

The Mid-American Conference had toyed with the idea of expansion and welcoming the two Conference USA members into the fold. But the Blue Raiders appeared to pull the plug on the deal, deciding to grab the money C-USA was offering instead.

That led the MAC to announce it was not going to expand, which also forced Western Kentucky’s hand.

It’s not a great scenario.

• Butch Davis is upset and it’s easy to understand.

FIU’s head football coach has told his coaching staff that he won’t return. Whether or not he will coach the Panthers’ last two games vs. North Texas and Southern Miss is unclear. However, FIU already posted the job opening for a new head football coach online with the American Football Coaches Association.

According to Davis, FIU is using old uniforms and equipment, refused to offer multi-year contracts to assistants and wouldn’t allow coaches to go recruiting the past two years.

Phew.

Sounds like FIU is a mess.