The outcry for West Virginia University to play Marshall University in men’s basketball has waned to a whisper.
Perhaps it’s because it hasn’t happened in nearly seven years.
The last time the state of West Virginia’s only two Division I basketball programs played during the regular season was in 2015 at the Charleston Civic Center. The result was an 86-68 victory for the Mountaineers.
Sure, the in-state rivals also played in the 2018 NCAA tournament regional in San Diego, resulting in a 94-71 victory for the Mountaineers in second-round play.
But again, it has been seven years since WVU and Marshall have played a regular-season game.
Why bring all this up now?
Because the issue has suddenly become relevant again.
Take a look at WVU’s 2021-22 basketball schedule. Surprisingly enough, the Mountaineers are playing UAB on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
That raises a significant question: If WVU can play a Conference USA opponent on the road in Alabama, why can’t it play a C-USA member within the confines of its own state?
Yes, WVU scheduling a road game at UAB has reopened the lid on that Pandora’s Box, and rightfully so. If a school wants to take the high road, it has to remain on the high road. It can’t take a detour onto a lower road. That simply doesn’t work.
That’s exactly why this controversial subject is back on the table. Besides that, most West Virginians want to see WVU and Marshall compete in basketball each season.
So why not give the fans what they want? What’s wrong with that?
Most fans would like to see WVU and Marshall rotate the yearly series between Morgantown and Huntington. One season the Mountaineers would host in the WVU Coliseum, the next campaign the Thundering Herd would host in the Cam Henderson Center.
In case anybody is wondering, WVU’s record vs. Marshall in the Coliseum is 11-1, while the Mountaineers’ record vs. MU in “The Cam” is 0-5.
Then, of course, there’s a third option — the Charleston Coliseum. The majority of these in-state matchups have been played in versions of that arena. WVU holds a 21-5 lead in those games.
So, perhaps Charleston could be added to the rotation. One year in Morgantown, the next in Huntington and the third in Charleston.
Are you listening, Amy Shuler Goodwin?
Charleston’s energetic mayor most assuredly would be a proponent of a WVU-MU matchup in the Charleston Coliseum, even on a rotating basis.
The bottom line is the game needs to be played, particularly now that the issue has been removed from hiatus by WVU’s decision to play UAB in Birmingham.
That was a game-changer.
And the game is WVU vs. Marshall.