The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

January 20, 2012

Capital Classic should be scheduled earlier in season

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins believes the West Virginia-Marshall basketball game each year should be played in November or December — not in January.

I happen to agree with the veteran Mountaineer mentor that scheduling the Capital Classic contest in between conference games is an imposition for both state institutions.

WVU already was 4-2 in Big East action and the Thundering Herd 4-0 in Conference USA before meeting Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (14-5) defeated Marshall (13-5) by a score of 78-62. It’s the biggest margin of victory over the Herd by WVU at Charleston.

Both teams now must return to conference competition without much preparation, mentally or physically.

Make no mistake, it’s a good game — and profitable — for both schools. But if it is to be continued, the state rivals should play earlier among other nonconference games before the league season starts.

There was a short stretch in the early 1980s when West Virginia and Marshall alternated playing that game on home courts. And it was played in early December.

More than not, the Mountaineers would win in Morgantown and the Thundering Herd would win in Huntington.

What’s more, nearly all of those contests were played in early December — as early as No. 2 on the year’s schedule.

But by 1991-92 the series switched to Charleston as the annual site, and it has been ever since.

That always was middle-to-late January if not February, because the game was while the West Virginia Legislature was in session.

I always have heard that was a major factor in the switch from home-and-home scheduling.

It’s been my understanding that for years, if not now, members of the Legislature received game tickets free of charge.

Bob Huggins always has been one to say what he thought, even as a player at WVU in the mid-1970s.

I think he was on target in regard to staging WVU-Marshall before conference play starts.

Some folks think that West Virginia should drop Marshall as it prepares to bolt the Big East for the Big 12.

But that’s another story for another day!

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